September 14, 2012 Updated: July 3, 2013 at 9:32 am
The Vista Ridge players might’ve had the biggest game in school history in the back their minds, but they didn’t take the task at hand lightly Friday night.
The Wolves (3-0) were completely dominant on defense and solid enough on offense to claim a 20-0 home win over Cheyenne Mountain (2-1).
Now, Pine Creek looms on the horizon.
“We were all business tonight,” said Vista Ridge quarterback Brayden Stewart, who threw for 124 yards and two touchdowns. “Once the clock was running down the final seconds, I started thinking about Pine Creek. I’m going home to start watching film right now.”
If the Vista Ridge defense was looking past Cheyenne Mountain, it hid it extremely well. The ferocious unit allowed the Indians’ vaunted offense just 125 total yards, forced three turnovers and collected five sacks.
“I think the defense is the strong part of this team,” said Austin Mildbrandt, who caught a touchdown as a receiver and an interception as a cornerback. “We work as a team on defense and everybody does what they’re supposed to do. We’re real strong.”
The lone touchdown of the first half came with 1:29 left in the second quarter when Stewart found Aaron Johnson for a 35-yard scoring reception on a slant route. Johnson raced through the middle of the secondary to give his Wolves a 10-0 lead.
Cheyenne Mountain had a golden opportunity to cut into the lead just before the half. After a James Michael Sullivan interception and return to the Vista Ridge 27, another 15 yards were tacked on for a personal foul. With just under one second left in the half, the Indians missed a 29-yard field goal attempt that would’ve made it 10-3.
“We just never got on track tonight, and you have to give their defense a lot of credit because they are fast and aggressive,” Cheyenne Mountain coach Brian Sherman said. “We’re used to having a lot of big plays, but tonight we needed to sustain drives and we just couldn’t do it.”
The second half saw Vista Ridge take control after forcing a turnover on downs near midfield. After one of several long runs for running back Brandon Cartegena – he had 120 yards on 15 carries – Stewart found Mildbrandt from 25 yards out to make the score 17-0 midway through the third quarter.
From there, the Wolves allowed their defense to do what it does best – attack.
“The guys are committed; they work hard at practice and in the off-season and they just want to get better each week,” Vista Ridge coach Les Johnson said.
Now comes the big game. After two solid seasons in 3A – including a semifinal appearance in the program’s first varsity season in 2010 – the Wolves can see how they stack up against the best 4A program in the area.
“It’s going to be pretty crazy here next Friday night,” Johnson said.