The following is a look at the marquee games this week in softball, volleyball and boys soccer in Classes 5A and Class 4A. (All rankings and records are current as of Monday.)
Douglas County (6-5) at Legend (6-6), 3:30 p.m. Wednesday: In a Continental League showdown, first-year Huskies coach Dane Craig looks to his captains, senior second baseman Abbey Montoya and junior third baseman Alley Kim, to earn a statement win over the No. 8 Titans, whose deep lineup is highlighted by senior Hailee Swanson’s .621 average and four home runs.
Pueblo West (7-2) at Thomas Jefferson (10-1), 10 a.m. Saturday: No. 5 Pueblo West is coming off consecutive blowout wins over Pueblo East, Pueblo Centennial and Pueblo County, and the Cyclones look to carry that momentum into a road showdown against Thomas Jefferson. This will be the biggest test yet for senior pitcher Zoya Robbins and the No. 10 Spartans following their Wednesday game against Conifer (10-2).
Mountain Vista (8-1) at Castle View (8-1), 6 p.m. Tuesday: This Continental League battle is not only important in terms of conference title implications, it could be a preview of a potential state tournament pairing. The No. 1 Golden Eagles are bouyed by senior libero Sam Novak and the blocking ability of senior middle hitter Amanda Keller, who will be crucial against the No. 2 Sabercats’ attack led by senior outside hitters Kate Menz and senior middle hitter Ashley Echols.
Eaton (8-0) at Lewis-Palmer (8-0), noon Saturday: In a cross-classification clash between two reigning state champions — Eaton in 3A, Lewis-Palmer in 4A — and a pair of programs that have combined for 14 total titles, managing momentum swings will be key for the team aiming to stay undefeated. The top-ranked Reds are led by junior outside hitter Mackenzie Harris, who will be opposite a varied No. 1 Lewis-Palmer attack.
Denver East (7-0) at Thomas Jefferson (6-0), 4 p.m. Tuesday: A cross-classification Denver Prep League clash pits 5A No. 1 Denver East against 4A sleeper Thomas Jefferson. Senior striker Sam Carson will no doubt be the biggest worry for the Spartans’ defense, but Thomas Jefferson also has viable offensive firepower in senior midfielder Malek Abusnina and sophomore striker Randy Soetedja.
Broomfield (5-1) at Fairview (5-1), 6:15 p.m. Saturday: This match will do much to clear up the early, crowded Front Range League title chase, as Fairview sits alone atop the standings at 3-0. Junior Cooper Harmon has paced the No. 5 Knights with five goals, while senior Michael Mooney has the same number of scores for No. 3 Broomfield. [...]
Over the past three years, senior Victor Garnes has steadily made a case for himself as one of the best athletes in Eaglecrest history.
That case continued to build Friday night in a high-stakes Class 5A rivalry at Legacy Stadium, where the wideout had two game-changing touchdown receptions in the No. 3 Raptors’ 21-14 victory over No. 7 Grandview.
“Obviously, we’d be dumb if we didn’t try to get him the ball when we can,” Eaglecrest coach Mike Schmitt said. “We put him in those types of game-changing situations, and then if the defense over-adjusts to him, we have other guys who can make plays. But as we saw tonight, Vic is plenty capable of making plays on his own.”
First, Garnes made a diving 27-yard touchdown catch at the pylon in the second quarter to build Eaglecrest’s lead following senior Kenny Wantings’ 2-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter. The heave from senior quarterback Jalen Mergerson on fourth-and-11 gave the Raptors a 14-0 advantage and all the momentum heading into halftime.
How ’bout the catch by Victor Garnes? Eaglecrest takes a 14-0 lead on Grandview.
WATCH LIVE: https://t.co/VRPViMNhMv #copreps pic.twitter.com/gtkLULe2SM
— Denver Post Preps (@postpreps) September 16, 2017
Then, after Grandview re-energized its crowd and sideline with an Aaron Harris punt block and touchdown recovery midway through the third quarter to make it a 14-7 affair, Mergerson found his favorite weapon once again.
Mergerson escaped pressure on third-and-6 to find Garnes on a slant route. He then proceeded to cut across the field and blow by the defense for a 34-yard score and a 21-7 lead the Raptors did not relinquish.
“Jalen gets his eyes downfield every play, and he constantly works on that in practice,” Garnes said. “He does a pretty good job at it, so I just always try to reward him for breaking the pocket and still looking for receivers, which is what he did tonight.”
Mergerson to Garnes.
Eaglecrest up 21-7 on Grandview in the 4th quarter.
Watch Live: https://t.co/wMXpANAm1G #copreps pic.twitter.com/2183UJ8s9j
— Denver Post Preps (@postpreps) September 16, 2017
Meanwhile the Eaglecrest defense, headlined by senior middle linebacker Kyante Christian and junior nose guard Matt Youngblood acting as a 324-pound plug in the middle, limited the Wolves. It wasn’t until garbage time in the fourth quarter that Grandview senior Andrew Turner’s 17-yard touchdown reception ruined the Raptors’ defensive shutout.
“There were some times there that I felt like we could have taken more control of the game, but we knew we’d be good on defense,” Schmitt said. “They’re a good offense — kudos to those Grandview guys, because they showed us a lot of formations and a lot of different schemes, but our boys were able to adjust on the fly.”
With the win, Eaglecrest proved last season’s 36-29 shootout win — at that time the Raptors’ first victory over Grandview since 2009 — was no fluke as the program continues to display a new brand of physicality to match the talent that it has long possessed.
And if Garnes — who also played a pivotal role in Eaglecrest basketball’s run to the state championship last winter and ran in multiple relays during this spring’s state track championships — keeps making plays at this rate, Eaglecrest is more than capable of building off its 2016 quarterfinal appearance.
That is, of course, provided the Raptors continue to come together around their star.
“We have a lot to work on,” Schmitt said. “I think penalties were a pretty obvious concern tonight, and also some of the losing of our heads in key situations. But mainly we have to focus on the mentality piece right now — we still have a lot of talented individuals, and we’re close to being a really good team.”
Eaglecrest (3-0) hosts Cherokee Trail next Friday, while No. 7 Grandview (2-1) plays at No. 5 Cherry Creek that same night. [...]
Here’s how the teams in the latest Post Preps Power Rankings fared in Week 3 action. The next set of Power Rankings come out Monday afternoon.
No. 1 Valor Christian (3-0) had a bye.
No. 2 Pomona (3-0) beat Ralston Valley (0-3) 44-20 in a Jeffco rivalry behind five touchdowns from senior do-everything and Washington State commit Max Borghi.
No. 3 Eaglecrest (3-0) beat No. 7 Grandview (2-1) 21-14 thanks to two receiving touchdowns from senior Victor Garnes as well as a stout defense featuring 324-pound junior nose guard Matt Youngblood.
No. 4 Regis Jesuit (2-1) beat Rangeview (0-3) 35-12 in a game in which the Raiders jumped out to a 21-0 halftime advantage.
No. 5 Cherry Creek (1-1) played Arapahoe (1-1) on Saturday.
No. 6 Highlands Ranch (3-0) beat Chaparral (1-2) 20-13 behind rushing touchdowns from Tyler Dobbs and Dominic Bettini in the wake of a season-ending hand injury to freshman quarterback Jake Rubley earlier in the week.
No. 7 Grandview (2-1) lost to No. 3 Eaglecrest (3-0) 21-14 despite a blocked punt and score from senior Aaron Harris as well as senior Andrew Turner’s touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter.
No. 8 Columbine (3-0) beat Bear Creek (0-3) 50-0 in a game that showed the undefeated Rebels are more than ready for their showdown against longtime Jeffco rival Chatfield this week.
No. 9 Mullen (2-2) beat Westminster (0-3) 41-16 thanks to four passing scores from junior quarterback Dominic Depizzol, plus rushing touchdowns by seniors Alonzo Moon and Zach Krause.
No. 10 Doherty (2-1) beat Palmer (0-3) 63-12 on Thursday as senior running back Julian Cooks racked up 102 yards and three scores on the ground and sophomore quarterback Logan Siffert tossed three touchdowns.
No. 1 Pine Creek (2-0) plays Fountain-Fort Carson (1-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m.
No. 2 Ponderosa (3-0) beat Gateway (0-3) 49-0 on Thursday as the Mustangs’ defense posted its second straight shutout while limiting the Olympians to just 155 total yards.
No. 3 Broomfield (1-2) lost to No. 6 Windsor (2-1) 40-14 as a 26-0 halftime deficit at home never allowed the Eagles to be competitive in the game.
No. 4 Chatfield (2-1) beat Wheat Ridge (1-3) 52-7 behind four touchdowns and 235 yards rushing from senior Ben Frenette, not to mention stout defensive play that shut the Farmers out in the second half.
No. 5 Monarch (3-0) beat Denver South (0-3) 21-0 thanks to senior linebacker Ben Fuchs and a lockdown defense as the Coyotes raced to their first 3-0 start since 2013.
No. 6 Windsor (2-1) beat No. 3 Broomfield (1-2) 40-14 with a big first half highlighted by senior quarterback Connor Apodaca’s two touchdowns by air and one by ground.
No. 7 Fruita Monument (4-0) beat Palisade (2-2) 24-8 thanks to a pair of rushing touchdowns from senior Braeden Graham.
No. 8 Pueblo South (2-0) lost to Pueblo West (3-0) 55-54 in double overtime after West rallied from a 35-21 halftime deficit to force dramatics in southern Colorado.
No. 9 Vista Ridge (2-1) beat Dakota Ridge (1-2) 28-16 via two passing touchdowns from junior Rowan Neal, plus a big interception from sophomore defensive back Ryan Poolman.
No. 10 Rampart (3-1) beat George Washington (0-3) 55-7 after falling behind a touchdown early, whereupon the Rams’ defense shut George Washington out for the final three quarters and the offense pumped out seven rushing scores. [...]
Eaglecrest beat Grandview 21-14 in 5A high school varsity football at Legacy Stadium on the Cherokee Trail High School campus Friday, September 15, 2017. [...]
Lindsey Horan and Mallory Pugh had the same big question in front of them, albeit five years apart: Is turning professional worth the risk of passing on a college scholarship?
It’s a question both said yes to, and it’s also a question that — prior to the U.S. Women’s National Team duo acting on it — had never been considered before. Horan and Pugh are the only female players in U.S. Soccer history to bypass college to turn professional, and their boldness has opened the door for other big-dreaming, cleat-wearing girls in the future.
“It’s a huge decision, and now it’s kind of out there where it’s a thought,” Horan said. “And other young female players who are maybe thinking about making the jump can look and see that we’ve done it, and they can see that we’re in a good place and it’s worked out for us.”
Horan is a 2012 Golden High School graduate who elected to sign with Paris Saint-Germain out of high school, while Pugh, a 2016 Mountain Vista graduate, redshirted during her freshman season at UCLA before deciding to turn professional and sign with the National Women’s Soccer League’s Washington Spirit three weeks later.
The Coloradans are back home for a friendly against New Zealand on Friday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park as the USWNT continues to fine-tune its side ahead of the 2019 World Cup. And the match gives Horan and Pugh a chance to soak in an environment where both of their youth clubs — Colorado Rush and Real Colorado, respectively — will be out in full force to support their homegrown stars.
“My youth club bought out a whole section, which is the coolest thing in the world,” Horan said. “They’ve done everything for my development, and I give all the credit in the world to them and how much they influenced me and motivated me to be where I am today.”
While in town, hitting up local favorites such as Little Man Ice Cream are on the off-the-field to-do list for the pair, which has grown increasingly close since Pugh was called up to the national team in January 2016 and, at 18 years of age, became the second-youngest Olympian in USWNT history in Rio de Janeiro later that year. (Cindy Parlow was the youngest in 1996.)
Pugh talked extensively with Horan before making the decision to leave UCLA, which she said wasn’t motivated by money. Under the new collective bargaining agreement ratified by the USWNT Players Association and U.S. Soccer in April — and because U.S. Soccer underwrites salaries for national team players competing in the NWSL — Pugh is estimated to make anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000 in annual salary, not including endorsement deals such as the one she signed with Nike in May.
“For me, I got the right amount of experience that I needed (at UCLA),” Pugh said. “Leaving was an emotional decision for me, just because I do have so many close friends on UCLA. Not much of it was motivated by (the financial piece). It was more about what I could do to put myself in a good environment to grow as a player and as a person, too.”
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Horan describes Pugh as a little sister — “I’m so proud of the way she handled everything at such a young age,” she gushed — and said the way Pugh burst onto the international stage when she became the youngest American to ever net an Olympic goal is in large part a credit to the phenom’s relaxed mindset on the pitch.
“Mal is someone who doesn’t think a lot,” Horan said. “Coming from my past experiences, I’ve been the player who used to worry all the time, and I’d get so nervous and frantic when I was young. My gosh, she comes into her first national team game (in January 2016), scores, and I don’t see nerves at all — she’s just going out and having fun and playing, and for a young player to do that at such a high level is incredible.”
And when Horan and Pugh take the pitch for Friday’s 8 p.m. match as trailblazers, they’ll do so with the hopes that their risk-taking was just one catalyst for a quickly morphing women’s soccer world in which development academy programs have spawned for girls, and the USWNT continues its push for a pay structure that is [...]
In Chatfield’s second year in Class 4A, the Chargers are expected to be a state championship contender after making a semifinal run last season.
Coach Bret McGatlin’s squad looked the part during Thursday night’s Week 3 showing at Jeffco Stadium, as the No. 4 Chargers ran past Wheat Ridge 52-7 thanks to overpowering play in the trenches and four rushing touchdowns on 235 yards on the ground from senior standout Ben Frenette.
“I always know that to win championships, you’ve got to run the football well, so we always work hard on our running game and we pride ourselves on it even though we run a tempo offense,” McGatlin said. “I was a little disappointed we didn’t get our passing game going early, and I think we need to work on that because it’s really important for us to be balanced.”
Frenette catalyzed Chatfield with a 42-yard scoring scamper to make it 7-0 in the first quarter, but the Farmers responded early in the second quarter by marching the length of the field and capping the drive with a touchdown pass from junior quarterback Anthony Tate to senior wideout Naishon Thomas.
“We definitely gave up some plays in the first half that we felt were uncharacteristic of us,” McGatlin said. “We have four seasoned defensive backs, and we got beat a couple times in the secondary, which is rare for us.”
But after Tate’s touchdown toss, the game completely belonged to Chatfield.
Frenette tacked on a couple more scoring runs in the second quarter and junior Charlie Wildermuth hit a late field goal to give Chatfield a 24-7 lead heading into the locker room.
The Chargers continued to extend their advantage in the second half, using a Frenette 75-yard touchdown run on the third quarter’s first play from scrimmage en route to the blowout victory. Chatfield seniors Chandler Callejo and Brandon Andersen also chipped in scoring runs.
Chatfield (2-1) takes on longtime Jeffco rival and Class 5A No. 8 Columbine next Friday, Sept. 22, while Wheat Ridge (1-3) enters a bye week and is in action next at home against Dakota Ridge on Thursday, Sept. 28.
“A team like (Columbine) is always one of the most physical teams you play every year,” McGatlin said. “They’re bigger than anyone I’ve seen, so we’ve got to play our best football and we’ve got to match their physicality to have a shot to win it. Our guys are excited for it, because it’s always a big week in our community.”
Next Thursday, tune in to Denver South at Heritage on the Game of the Week. Access the full Post Preps Radio schedule here.
Listen to the archived broadcast: [...]
Colorado prep football programs are partnering with MaxPreps and Pledge It, a performance-based crowdfunding platform, to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to fight childhood cancer through Touchdowns Against Cancer.
The 2nd annual program raised over $100,000 across nearly 200 high schools nationwide last year and is put on in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
For each touchdown a participating team scores from Sept. 14 to Sept. 30, fans can make a donation that directly supports St. Jude’s.
Local programs from 8-man all the way up to Class 5A are participating throughout the rest of the month, including but not limited to Alamosa, Chatfield, Columbine, Dakota Ridge, Gilpin County, Haxtun, Holly, Pueblo Central, Pueblo South, Wheat Ridge, Widefield and Wray.
For more information on how to donate to the program that helps raise funds for the estimated 16,000 American children who are diagnosed with cancer every year, visit touchdownsagainstcancer.com. [...]
The oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi River and the biggest football rivalry in the state of Colorado is garnering attention once again this fall, as “The Bell Game” between Pueblo Central and Pueblo Centennial has been selected to the 2017 Great American Rivalry Series schedule.
It’s the 117th meeting between the two teams in a series dating back to 1892. Central leads the series 56-51 and the schools have also tied nine times in a game that regularly draws over 15,000 fans out to Dutch Clark Stadium.
This season, both teams are looking for their first victory heading into the game. Central (0-2) is hungry to retain “The Bell” and repaint its cart blue following last season’s 31-7 loss to Centennial (0-2).
First-year coach Kris Cotterman and the Wildcats are highlighted by junior wideout/safety Nico Martin, while first-year coach Jeff Wilkerson and the Bulldogs are led by junior quarterback Patrick Gonzales.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. [...]
No. 3 Eaglecrest and No. 7 Grandview meet on Friday at 7 p.m. at Legacy Stadium as the longtime district rivals battle in a prime-time non-conference affair.
The game will be streamed live in HD, as well as archived afterward on The Denver Post site.
Cory Lopez and Marty Cesario have the call starting at 6:50 p.m.; you can also tune into the game and our Post Preps Gameday show featuring preview analysis and player interviews on Friday around noon via our Facebook page.
The Raptors (2-0) topped Grandview (2-0) 36-29 in a slugfest last season, and early indications are this year will be another shootout. See the full Post Preps TV schedule here.
Don’t forget to “like” our Denver Post Prep Sports Facebook page and turn on notifications to make sure you get a heads up every time Post Preps TV goes live. [...]
Denver Post preps editor Kyle Newman breaks down the biggest games to watch in Week 3 of the 2017 Colorado high school football season.
Wheat Ridge (1-2) at Chatfield (1-1), Thursday 6 p.m. Jeffco Stadium: Wheat Ridge is coming off a hard-fought 28-14 loss to Broomfield, and coach Stacy Coryell will lean on senior running back and linebacker Payton Dietrich to set the tone against the No. 4 Chargers. Meanwhile, Chatfield looks to continue its momentum following its 57-0 Week 2 thrashing of Palmer, and Wheat Ridge will no doubt be keying in on senior quarterback Colton Arne and senior running back Ben Frenette in order to limit the Chargers’ offense. Listen to the live stream of this game via Post Preps Radio.
Eaglecrest (2-0) at Grandview (2-0), Friday 7 p.m., Legacy Stadium: The No. 3 Raptors meet the No. 7 Wolves in a district rivalry that the Raptors won in a shootout a year ago, and all indications point to another close game. Senior wideout/returner Victor Garnes is the X-factor for Eaglecrest, while Grandview — which will be without the services of star senior wideout/defensive back Gunner Gentry for at least a few more weeks due to a hand injury — will no doubt look to establish the run early and often with junior Jordan Billingsley. Watch the live stream of this game via Post Preps TV.
Windsor (1-1) at Broomfield (1-1), Friday 7 p.m. Elizabeth Kennedy Stadium: Senior lineman Zach Watts leads No. 6 Windsor into its second straight top-five matchup coming off a 10-0 loss at home to Pine Creek last week in a game that proved the Wizards have work to do offensively. The battle in the trenches will be key as the No. 3 Eagles look to establish tempo in the run game with junior Dylan Torres in a rematch of Broomfield’s 25-13 win in the 2016 4A semifinals.
Fort Morgan (2-0) at Holy Family (2-0), Friday 7 p.m. Mike G. Gabriel Stadium: Two of the top teams in 3A square off in a game that Holy Family won decisively last season, 45-28. Junior Tigers quarterback Stone Samaras has a potent downfield weapon in junior tight end Kyle Helbig, not to mention a balanced defense led by senior middle linebacker Dilan Gonzalez. Fort Morgan has skill and physicality to match, though, as the often-overlooked Mustangs are headlined by senior tight end/defensive end Trey McBride.
Fairview (2-0) at Rocky Mountain (1-1), Saturday 11 a.m. French Field: Fairview has rolled through its first two games thanks to strong performances each week from senior running back Mariano Kemp, who has logged 343 yards and four touchdowns so far as he continues to fill the large shoes of older brother Carlo, now a sophomore at Michigan. But Rocky Mountain will be hungry for an upset, as the Lobos also boast talent in the backfield by way of junior Tyreese Adler, senior Cameron Morrongiello and senior Jordan Yancey. [...]
The following is a look at the marquee games this week in softball, volleyball and boys soccer in Class 5A and Class 4A. (All rankings and records are current as of Monday.)
Pueblo Central (6-2) at Pueblo County (8-0), Tuesday 6 p.m.: In a South Central League showdown, sophomore second baseman Thalia Amaro, sophomore first baseman Kyleigh Espinoza and senior pitcher Taylor Puga — who’s big bat matches her explosive arm — lead Central against undefeated County, one of 4A’s sleeper teams, as highlighted by the talents of sophomore centerfielder Kaylin Mares and senior shortstop Makaila Bueno.
Legend (5-5) at Mountain Vista (8-2), Friday 4:30 p.m.: Legend’s .500 record deceives, as the Titans lost three games to Top 10 teams and two more to a pair of Oklahoma prep powers. The going doesn’t get any easier for coach Kristen Shirk and No. 8 Legend, whose second Continental League game comes against Bret Grammerstorf’s well-coached No. 5 Golden Eagles team featuring two viable senior arms in Erin Kerby and Makayla Hoselton.
Castle View (6-1) at Rock Canyon (6-1), Thursday 6 p.m.: Castle View is one of the biggest surprises of the 5A volleyball season so far, as coach Scott Dowis and the No. 5 Sabercats already boast quality wins against No. 9 Chaparral and 4A No. 3 Holy Family. Senior outside hitters Kate Menz and Laney Hershiser lead the team into its Continental League opener against No. 2 Rock Canyon, whose elite offense is powered by junior setter and captain Abi Leitner.
Niwot (5-1) at Longmont (7-0), Thursday 6:30 p.m.: Early returns indicate Niwot has what it takes to make a repeat 4A state tournament showing, as senior Mackenzie Fidelak and junior Emma Falk give the No. 5 Cougars ammunition at the net in what will be a well-contested Northern League rivalry match against Longmont. The Trojans have flown under the radar so far despite an undefeated record and the high-level play of senior outside hitter Rachel Kusbel.
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Hinkley (2-1) at Gateway (4-0), Thursday 4:30 p.m.: Hinkley posted impressive wins over No. 7 Cherry Creek and Legacy to open the season, and now the Thunderbirds aim to regain their momentum from a loss last week to No. 9 Grandview. The East Metro Athletic League battle against the Olympians is sure to test the Thunderbirds again, as Gateway enters the match undefeated thanks to junior forward Josh Guzman and an array of other potent scorers.
Golden (4-1) at Denver North (4-0), Friday 5 p.m., NAAC: This enticing non-conference showdown pits two of the most underrated sides in 4A against each other. Coach Luke Vanderglas’ Demons are paced by three goals apiece from forwards Alex Huston and Colton Gomez, while coach Clay Porter and the Vikings’ chances in the match and throughout the rest of the season rest squarely on the shoulders of senior striker and team captain Uriel Rico. [...]
Arapahoe Warriors played the Heritage Eagles Friday, September 8, 2017 at LPS Stadium. [...]
LITTLETON — The Arapahoe student section was hitting the Heritage student section with the “LITTLE SISTER” chant all game Friday night at Littleton Public Schools Stadium in the latest rendition of the Battle for the Brookridge trophy.
And after a closely contested first half, Arapahoe’s tight defense and acquisition of game-changing turnovers enabled the chant to stick, as the Class 5A Warriors defeated 4A Heritage 28-13 for their third straight win over their crosstown rival and seventh victory in the last eight Milk Jug games.
“We left a lot of points out here tonight, and they probably think the same thing,” Arapahoe coach Mike Campbell said. “But the difference was they had a couple deep drives where we got picks in the red zone, and we were able to get the running game going when we needed it in the second half as our defense settled in on the other side of the ball.”
Senior quarterback Joe Weigang threw a 55-yard pass to senior wideout Josh Martin on the Eagles’ first play from scrimmage to put Heritage in the red zone, but Arapahoe junior free safety Cade Segura came up with an interception in the end zone a few plays later to eliminate the early scoring threat.
Arapahoe also had its chances during a first quarter in which each defense continually answered the bell.
A promising first drive following Segura’s interception featured several third-down conversions before the Warriors sputtered out near the 50-yard line. Later in the first quarter, junior quarterback Kevin Lukasiewicz drove Arapahoe down the field but senior Nathaniel Rapue’s field-goal attempt of 42 yards was wide left.
The game remained scoreless late into the second quarter, when Heritage was again knocking on the door of a touchdown only to be stymied by another timely Arapahoe interception by junior Bobby Baltzer at the goal line.
“That was huge,” Campbell said. “They were about to take control of the game, and our defense made a clutch play.”
On the next drive, Arapahoe marched the length of the field and, set up by a 45-yard scamper by senior Matt Phelan, scored the game’s first points with a 5-yard Alex Smith touchdown run to give the Warriors a 7-0 advantage with 1:29 to play in the first half.
“We made some adjustments before that drive on the sideline with our schemes based off what Heritage was doing,” Kevin Lukasiewicz said. “We cleaned up our counters and zones, and those little tweaks made a huge difference to finally get us the lead.”
The Eagles then responded with a scoring drive of their own, nickel-and-diming down the field with efficiency to set up a 32-yard field goal from Christiano Palazzo that made it 7-3 heading into halftime.
The Warriors regained momentum in the third quarter. Arapahoe stalled on its first drive of the second half, but a muffed punt by Heritage senior returner Tyler Zoesch set up the Warriors for a 20-yard Phelan touchdown run the next play to give them a 14-3 advantage.
Heritage fumbled the ball away inside its red zone on its next possession. But Arapahoe couldn’t capitalize as Rapue missed his second field-goal attempt of the game, this time from 26 yards.
The next series, Heritage responded with the biggest offensive play of the night as Weigand’s 72-yard touchdown run fired up the Eagles’ fans and cut their deficit to 14-10. But Arapahoe struck back with another score on the next drive, Phelen’s second rushing touchdown giving Arapahoe a 21-10 lead with 4:05 left in the third quarter as the Warriors’ ‘Swarm’ defense started having its way.
“We had as many defensive penalties as I’ve seen in a long time — including a lot of 15-yarders that we’ll take a look at on film — but we were playing hard, playing aggressive and we were finishing to the ball,” Campbell said. “That was the point of emphasis this week from last week’s loss, so I’m pleased with that.”
Palazzo’s 30-yard field goal with a few ticks left in the third quarter made it 21-13, but the Warriors cracked down on defense in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Smith’s 8-yard touchdown run, his second of the night, iced the game late in the fourth quarter over an Eagles team that is down, but not out.
“That’s a tough loss to a good football team, but we’re not going anywhere — that’s a 5A football team and we play a 4A schedule from this point out,” Heritage coach Tyler Knoblock said. “Our longest winning streak since I’ve been here came after an 0-2 start, so i believe in our staff and our players that we’ll be okay in the long run.”
Arapahoe (1-1) hosts No. 4 Cherry Creek next Saturday, while Heritage (0-2) hosts Brighton on Thursday. [...]