Over the course of the 2017 season, stellar tackling by Cameron Fury, bone rattling blocks by Casey Orange, stellar defensive plays by Matthew Broughton, perfectly throws by Justin Purkat and jaw-dropping hits by Forest Pejsa brought local fans to their feet.
So, too, did the on-field exploits of the above-named catch the attention of coaches throughout Colorado, who voted each of the five players to the all-state team in their respective classifications.
Cameron Fury – Second TeamLeading the way for local all-state selections was Mancos senior Cameron Fury, whose work as an offensive guard and defensive end earned him a spot on the second team for Colorado’s 8-man classification.
Although statistics for Fury’s season were not available, since the Mancos team does not maintain such numbers, fans and coaches who saw the senior play were consistently impressed by the senior’s ability to open lanes for Mancos running backs and pressure opposing quarterbacks.
Known as one of his team’s leaders, Fury helped Mancos finish its season with an 8-3 record overall and a 5-1 record in the Southwest League. Fury also played a key role in the Bluejays’ 64-28 victory over Rocky Mountain Lutheran, which marked Mancos’ first playoff victory since 2002.
“We have a lot more positively this year, that’s for sure,” Fury said. “I just try to keep creating holes and getting us into the end zone.”
Casey Orange – Honorable MentionLining up beside Fury throughout the season was junior center/nose guard Casey Orange, whose unique combination of size and quickness allowed Mancos’ offensive and defensive lines to dominate throughout the season.
Known as one of his team’s heaviest hitters, Orange consistently came face-to-face with opposing running backs and quarterbacks, who, after being plowed by the exceptionally strong junior, were less likely to run the ball up the middle on subsequent plays.
“Our defensive line, Casey Orange, Cameron Fury, and Roan Russell, work so hard,” said associate head coach Adam Priestly, after the Bluejays defeated Del Norte on Sept. 15. “All three of our linemen made a huge difference.”
Matthew Broughton – Honorable MentionRepresenting Montezuma-Cortez High School on the Class 2A all-state team, junior Matthew Broughton solidified his status as one of the West Slope League’s finest defensive players during a stellar 2017 campaign.
Rotating between cornerback, safety, and linebacker, Broughton registered a team-high 95 tackles, sacked opposing quarterbacks three times, forced two fumbles and recovered three fumbles.
Broughton’s most impressive performance came against Delta on Oct. 12 when the junior seemingly covered the entire field in route to a season-high 19 total tackles.
Forest Pejsa – Honorable MentionOne year after leading Colorado in tackles, Dolores junior Forest Pejsa appeared on Class 1A’s all-state team for the second consecutive season registering 92 total tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries.
The exceptionally strong junior also made his presence felt on the offensive side of the ball by rushing for 320 yards and registering 199 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.
“For our defense, (our mentality) is really fill and kill,” said Pejsa prior to the season. “We have some really good starters and we’ve just got to put in work.”
Justin Purkat – Honorable MentionAlso named to the Class 1A all-state team was Dolores senior quarterback/safety Justin Purkat, who, despite missing three games due to injury, put up impressive numbers and led his team to several victories.
As the Bears’ starting quarterback, Purkat threw for 783 yards and 10 touchdowns in just five games, while rushing for 370 yards and three touchdowns. The senior was especially impressive during a game against Dolores Huerta Prep on Sept. 15 when he threw for 262 yards and four touchdowns.
“I couldn’t ask for a better quarterback to run our balanced attack,” said Dolores head coach Chris Trusler, after his team defeated Whitehorse 44-0 on Sept. 22. “The great part is that Justin is getting better every week, and he is becoming more confident. That confidence is starting to shine down on our other players, and it’s helping our team.”