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Football: Move to I-25 Division has Longmont Christian confident despite preseason woes

LEWIS GEYER
Longmont Christian junior Parker Liske lines up for a drill during practice this week.

LONGMONT — A rash of preseason injury and illness has left this year’s Longmont Christian football team with a look it didn’t expect.

Among others, senior backup Aaron Rodarte will start the season at quarterback against Haxtun until Michael Rampson is back at full strength from illness. He won’t be the only Warriors player jumping into a foreign position.

“Overall, I’m kind of nervous about it since I’ve never taken a snap as QB in a game,” Rodarte said. “But I’m excited for league because I think we’re gonna take that. We definitely didn’t expect having this eight starting lineup to start, but I want this team to have confidence. Any of us can hit.”

Having just 10 players with the requisite practices to participate, the Warriors were forced to call off their Zero Week game against Caliche, which was originally scheduled for Friday. They’ll try to fill their Week 5 bye to get back to eight games.

Adding to the team’s new look, the Warriors are switching divisions.

For the past six years, the Warriors have been in the North Conference Plains Division, which regularly produces the 8-man state champion. The Warriors won two games last season, one of which was a forfeit.

The Warriors are joining the North Conference I-25 Division, which includes Rocky Mountain Lutheran, Gilpin County, Belleview Christian and Justice.

“It should be a competitive league for us,” Martin said. “We stand a good chance against those teams. We feel like we should finish one or two in the league but we’ll see.”

The first three games will be an important test for the Warriors. They’ll take on tough non-conference opponents Haxtun, Kiowa and Vail Christian.

Martin is hoping the difficult stretch will better prepare the younger Warriors for the conference schedule.

“Getting through these non-conference games, they’re gonna have a ton of experience and they’re gonna have a chance to be comfortable in positions,” Martin said. “They should have all doubts aside as to what it’s gonna be like and what their job’s gonna be.”

Perhaps the biggest hole to be filled is the absence of linebacker James Dick, last year’s only first team all-conference player. He will miss the season with a knee injury.

The task of leading a Warriors defense that averaged 46.2 points allowed last season has fallen to senior linebacker Caleb Flowers.

“Our defense has been weak the past three years,” Flowers said. “We’ve been getting run over so that’s something we’re trying to fix and we have a better mentality about it this year. We’re getting everyone’s heads in it early and doing extra things in practice.”

The Warriors need only finish among the top four in the five-team I-25 Division to earn a Week 9 crossover game against a Plains Division foe for a state playoff berth.

Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi