LONGMONT – For weeks, Vista Ridge has told anyone who would listen that it should be taken seriously as a 3A contender in its inaugural season of varsity football.
The Wolves now have the state’s attention.
“The secret’s out now,” coach Dean Huffman said. “Doggone it.”
No. 5 Vista Ridge controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides, scored touchdowns in all four quarters and moved to the semifinals with a convincing 26-0 thrashing of No. 13 Silver Creek.
The Wolves (10-2) limited the Raptors (8-4) to two rushing yards and intercepted Silver Creek’s sensational quarterback Austin Apodaca twice in the shutout.
“Our pass defense was our weakest point and we stepped it up and held a passing team to a shutout,” said defensive back Brandon Drager, who scored a second-quarter touchdown and intercepted Apodaca in the third quarter. “It was the greatest feeling ever.”
After racing to a 13-0 halftime lead behind a 37-yard run from Brandon Cartagena and Drager’s 17-yard dash, Vista Ridge opened the second half with an 80-yard drive that ate 7 minutes, 18 seconds off the clock. Quarterback Thomas Newman punctuated the drive with an 8-yard score.
“That was the big show right there,” Huffman said.
Vista Ridge let it known right away that it could physically control the game. Seven of Silver Creek’s first 14 plays went for zero or negative yards.
Once the Raptors were in a hole the offense had to go to the air, where Apodaca had thrived with 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions entering the game. But there was little time for him to throw.
“Our offense has a tendency to press and look for the 14-point play that obviously doesn’t exist,” coach Mike Apodaca said.
Part of Vista Ridge’s success defensivey can be attributed to some shrewd moves by Huffman, like putting tiny defensive back Javan Bridges at defensive tackle where he could be a disruptive force with his speed.
“Little fast kids against the big tall kids,” Huffman said. “Gets them every time. They couldn’t even reach down there that far.”
Newman hooked up with Austin Brown on a 12-yard pass for the final score, and a wild celebration started on the Wolves sideline. What some programs are still seeking after decades, they’ve accomplished on the first try.
“I’m really glad we’ve exceeded expectations of a lot of people out there,” defensive lineman Adam Figurski said. “It feels really great.”