Then Johnson’s football team showed just how special it is this season.
Trae Bankston and Anthony Davis each scored a pair of touchdowns and the Trojans (3-0) outgained 5A newcomer Rock Canyon 371-118 in total yards.
Davis led the attack with 147 yards and Terry Donnell provided a highlight with an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown to put the Trojans up 34-0 at halftime.
Johnson, a Fountain-Fort Carson graduate and football standout, has been the program’s head coach since 1986. This is shaping up to be one of top teams, as Friday’s pounding followed victories over powers Pine Creek and Columbine.
Manitou Springs 19, La Junta 7
At Manitou Springs: Manitou Springs quarterback Chad Sienknecht – a two-way star – stripped the ball from a La Junta runner and scored a 20-yard touchdown in the first quarter and later capped the scoring with a 7-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
The Mustangs (3-0), who dropped their final nine games last year after Sienknecht went down with an injury, are one of the surprise teams in 2A.
This was their first real test, as they faced a team that won last year’s matchup 35-14.
“I was proud of the kids,” first-year coach Danny Gieck said. “They showed up. They came to play.”
KC Quarry also added a 6-yard touchdown run for Manitou Springs, which led 13-0 before La Junta closed to within a score.
Sienknecht answered with the game’s final touchdown.
“He broke his ankle last year and he’s got a pretty good sized metal plate still in there,” Gieck said of Sienknecht, who is 6-foot-2, 230 pounds. “So he’s not real quick. He doesn’t have the mobility, but he has the heart.”
Mesa Ridge 48, Air Academy 3
At Air Academy: Mesa Ridge scored four touchdowns in the second quarter to seal the deal – and then some.
In the quarter, Morris Gilbert scored his second of three touchdowns when he caught a 17-yard pass from Cody Groff with 9:45 left in the half. Thirty seconds later, Groff took it in himself from 3 yards out to make it 21-0.
Groff threw for two touchdowns, ran for two more and totaled more than 200 yards of offense.
In the third, Gilbert caught a 53-yard TD from Groff, who minutes later, ran for an 11-yard score to wrap up the night’s scoring.
Air Academy’s only score came when Geno Bigelow hit a 46-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 6-3 in the first.
The Kadets (1-2) rushed for 151 yards, but only added 63 more through the air.
The Grizzlies (2-1) trumped Air Academy in nearly statistical category, including penalty yards, taking the yardage 103-to-45.
Legend 34, Palmer 0
At Palmer: Palmer gave up 142 yards through the air and 165 on the ground. Legend scored 14 in the second, 13 in the third and seven in the fourth.
It’s been a tough start for the Terrors (0-3), who lost last week to Cheyenne Mountain 54-17 and were shut out against Legend in the opener.
Ponderosa 37, Widefield 16
At C.A. Foster Stadium: In the third, Widefield went big early as Mario Sanabria hit DQ Baker for a 55-yard TD to close the deficit to 22-10.
In the fourth, Widefield cut it again to 29-16 after a 50-yard rushing TD.
But Ponderosa always answered Friday night.
In the third, Ponderosa scored a defensive touchdown 3 minutes after Baker’s TD reception. And in the fourth, David Spradling ran in from 10 yards out after Widefield’s last score of the game.
Ponderosa led the game off with an 80-yard kick return for a touchdown, while the Gladiators could only mangle a 30-yard field goal throughout the first 24 minutes, and by half’s end, that wasn’t enough.
Discovery Canyon 15, Elizabeth 12
At Elizabeth: With about 5 minutes remaining, Alex Weber scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 69-yard scamper to make it 13-12. Scott Betzer ran it in for the 2-point-conversion to make it 15-12, which would eventually be the final.
Earlier in the fourth, down 7-6, Elizabeth’s Jordan Bucknam scored on an 8-yard run to give the Cardinal the 12-7 lead, but they would fail on the 2-point-conversion.
The offenses started slow in Friday night’s 3A match, as the game went into half scoreless.
In fact, the Thunder’s Steve Turner scored the game’s first points, when he crossed the pylons on a 14-yard scoot with 5 minutes left in the first.
Windsor 21, Palmer Ridge 13
At Palmer Ridge: Palmer Ridge (0-3) kept it close against the No. 7 team in 4A (according to a statewide poll conducted by the Denver Post), but eventually fell for the third time this season.
Stats were not immediately available after the game.
No. 9 TCA 36, Mitchell 8
At TCA: TCA’s Andrew Register scored three times on the ground for 45, 9 and 38 yards out. He carried the ball 16 times for 165 yards.
Quarterbacl Janzten Ryals added the other two with his arm and legs.
In the first he hit Joey Trese for the 16-yard score and in the third Ryals kept it, scoring on a 10-yard scamper.
The Titans (3-0) have outscored their opponents 114-15.
Mitchell (0-3) has been outscored 97-8.
Vista Ridge 20, Cheyenne Mountain 0
At Vista Ridge: For the second-straight week, Vista Ridge (3-0) won 20-0.
This season, the Wolves have outscored their opponents 85-6.
Against Cheyenne Mountain (2-1), Noah Gabel threw a touchdowns, hit two extra points and two field goals.
In the second, Gabel hit Aaron Johnson for the 35-yard strike to take a 10-o lead into the half.
Then in the fourth, running back Brayden Stewart hit Austin Mildbrandt for the 30-yard score.
Canon City 35, Liberty 25
At Canon City: Canon City was on the outside looking in to this week’s top 10 rankings, but after handling Liberty on the Lancers’ turf, it’ll be hard to keep them out come this Monday.
“I don’t put much stock into rankings,” Tigers head coach Tom O’Rourke said. “But if these kids keep coming together, who know how far they can go.”
Canon City and Liberty traded scores in the first half, before the Tigers scored late to take the 28-19 lead into half.
“And then after the half we came out strong,” O’Rourke said, “and put together a nice drive and scored again.”
Liberty wouldn’t score until the fourth as they never controlled a lead in front of its home fans.
Canon City (2-1) goes to Mesa Ridge next Friday, while Liberty (2-1) will try to bounce back against Sand Creek.
Crowley County 40, Calhan 8
At Crowley County: Calhan’s losses keep getting worse. First, the Bulldogs were edged by Denver Christian 14-8 and by Peyton 25-19 in their first two games.
Calhan (0-3) faces Las Animas next Saturday.