GUNNISON—Coach Patrick King’s “gritty team from Gunnison” is looking all grown up.
The Gunnison Valley football team moved to 3-0 last week with a 52-12 bulldozing of Rich last Friday night in the Bulldogs’ home opener, marking the first 3-0 start for the Bulldogs since 2007. King’s squad posted the first 50 plus point outing for Gunnison since 2013, and scored over 40 points in back to back contests for the first time in more than 18 years after last week’s 42 points against Monticello.
The offensive prowess shown by the Bulldogs has been a departure from their usual identity, but it’s no surprise to King.
“It’s not a surprise at all,” King said. “We force people into tough situations…when [other teams] are not using a free safety and not using defensive backs, just stacking the line, it allows us to attack in other ways; and when you have a senior quarterback, these are the kind of things that can happen.”
Senior quarterback Jack Hansen completed 6 of 15 passes for 151 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception. Hansen also ran for 50 yards on nine carries, and on defense, he nabbed his first interception of the season and took it all the way back for another touchdown.
Junior Brogan Christensen was lethal in the receiving game, catching three passes for 64 yards, all of them touchdowns.
Gunnison’s rushers totaled an impressive 201 total yards on the ground. Junior Tyrek Hopkins had an explosive game with seven carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns to lead all rushers. Senior running back Dylan Anderson returned to action from injury and carried the ball three times for 13 yards. King said the senior starter will be back in full action this week.
With Gunnison already experiencing historic levels of success for the program, King said the key to maintaining that level and continuing to rise is simply focusing on the next game.
“They’ve won a game before,” King said. “We’re looking at it as 1-0. We’re trying to win every game every week, so when you look at it as just winning ‘this game this week’, it adds up by the end of the year.”
Senior Carson Tucker put Gunnison on the board first with a safety on defense.
Rich found the end zone first with a 61-yard touchdown pass to put the Rebels up, 6-2, with four minutes remaining in the first quarter. Three minutes later, Hopkins busted through a pair of tackles for a 17-yard touchdown run to retake the lead, 9-6, a lead the Bulldogs would not give up.
Tucker made a 26-yard field goal for the Bulldogs to extend the lead to 12-6. Then, later in the second, Hansen leapt in front of a desperation throw by Rich’s quarterback and returned the pick 32 yards for the score. With a run by Hopkins ensuring the two-point conversion, the Bulldogs took a 20-6 lead into halftime.
The third quarter saw Gunnison completely take over, beginning with a 51-yard touchdown rumble by Hopkins 20 seconds into the half, flattening a tackler on the way. Four minutes later, Hansen found junior Peyton Jackson in the middle of the field and zipped a pass between two defenders to lead Jackson untouched into the end zone.
After a touchdown by Rich to make it 32-12, Hansen and Christensen put on a show for the remainder of the game. Hansen first connected with the junior on a 5-yard score to go up, 39-12, then after a forced fumble quickly returned possession to the Bulldogs, Hansen delivered an arcing throw to the end zone for Christensen late in the third, which he caught sideways around his defender for the score.
Late in the fourth, Hansen hit Christensen again, this time for a 26-yard touchdown, making it 52-12 and sealing the deal for Gunnison, notching the widest margin of victory for the Bulldogs since beating Beaver, 54-7, in 2005.
The Bulldogs schedule will get significantly harder the rest of the way through their schedule. They have a bye this week, but will be on the road up north to take on a resurgent Layton Christian Academy on Friday, Sept 10.