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METRONORTH NEWSPAPERS > AUGUST 30, 2012 > FALL FOOTBALL & SPORTS PREVIEW > PAGE 11

OURCOLORADONEWS.COM

WHO THEY ARE MOUNTAIN RANGE MUSTANGS

Mustangs ready for next level Return to playoffs, winning record goal for Mountain Range sports@ourcoloradonews.com

Mustangs continues on Page 22

PLAYERS TO WATCH RB/FS Preston DeHerrera 5-8 165 Sr. RB/LB Tom Commander 5-9 200 Sr. RB/LB Gabe Gillespie 5-10 215 Jr. DT Keonte Moore 6-1 240 Sr. NT Jorge Morales 6-0 275 Jr. OL/DL Tylor Goodson 5-11 205 Sr. QB Andrew Wamsley 6-0 165 Jr. WR Kyle Dunbabin 6-1 170 Jr. RB/CB Elisha Rocha 5-4 130 Sr. RB Ben Waddell 6-0 185 Jr.

By Craig Harper Mountain Range’s rise to respectability in Class 5A football was a gradual process since its move up from 3A in 2009. In fact, until last year - when the Mustangs went 5-5 and made their playoff debut — stagnant was a more accurate depiction with three straight 3-7 seasons. But, buoyed by its breakthrough season, Mountain Range has its sights set on greater achievements, despite the loss of its quarterback, No. 1 rusher and seven defensive starters. “Our goal last year was to reach .500,’’ said fourth-year coach Bryan Davey. “This year it’s .500 or better and win a playoff game, which I think is manageable for us.’’ The 2011 Mustangs went 3-2 and tied Rocky Mountain (a team they beat 23-21) for second place in the Front Range League. They had a chance to tie Horizon for the conference title but lost 30-0 to the Hawks in the final regular-season game, then fell to 57-21 to Highlands Ranch in the playoffs. “We want to be in contention for the league championship and get the win this time,’’ said Preston DeHerrera, a senior two-way starter. “We kind of got punched in the face by a long TD on the first play (against Horizon). We need to persevere through things like that. “But we had a real good off-season and I think talentwise we can play with them. There’s more of a team feeling this year.’’ “We have a good-sized senior class,’’ Davey added. “We’re coming off the best record we’ve had (in 5A; the ‘08 team went 8-2 but missed the 3A playoffs) and played Horizon for the league championship. We got blown out, but I think we built some excitement.’’ If The Mustangs can build some defensive consistency, their goals could be attainable. They return eight offensive starters along with a bevy of running backs, but lose seven regulars on defense. That’s why Davy sees DeHerrera’s role changing somewhat. The Mustangs’ No. 2 rusher and tackler last year, DeHerrera is the top returnee in both categories. He figures to be a mainstay on both sides of the ball, but Davey believes the 5-foot-8, 165-pounder is more valuable as a defensive leader. “He’ll play both sides, but his primary focus probably will be defense,’’ Davey said. “If he goes down defensively, we take a step back. He’s one of our fastest players - he just ran three 4.7’s (40-yard dashes) - and just has to learn to use his speed.’’ DeHerrera (80 carries, 460 yards, 5 touchdowns) and fellow senior Tom Commander (88, 345, 3) essentially were co-No. 2 rushers last year behind Anthony Apodaca (791 yards, 6 touchdowns), who has graduated. But the emergence of Gabe Gillespie and other juniors should enable Davey to reduce DeHerrera’s load and keep him fresher for defense. Davey said DeHerrera was on the field for about 75 percent of Mountain Range’s offensive plays, and the goal this year is for 60-75 percent. “That’s what I understand,’’ said DeHerrera, who plays a roaming free safety and last year had 70 total tackles

Class 5A Front Range League Coach: Bryan Davey, 4th season 2011: 5-5 Last Playoffs: 2011 Home Field: Adams 12 North Stadium

Mountain Range seniors Tom Commander (5) and Preston DeHerrera (8) practice a handoff at Adams 12 North Stadium on Aug. 14. Photo by Pam Wagner.

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