It's no secret that Kalen Ballage is a gifted football player. The fact that he's well-known makes what he's been able to accomplish this season all the more special.
Through eight games, the senior running back has totaled a staggering 1,560 rushing yards and 19 rushing scores (24 total). He's averaging 195 rushing yards per game and more than 10 yards per carry, and defenses can't find a way to contain him.
"He's freakishly big, fast and strong," Falcon coach Brian Green said. "But he also has a very high football IQ. He's a guy who leads by example and is respected by all of his teammates."
The Falcons are 7-1 and ranked as one of the top 4A teams in the state. Ballage is the main reason for the explosion of success, leading an offense that scores 35 points per game.
Ballage's latest eruption on the field resulted in 272 yards and five touchdowns in a 52-12 rout of Air Academy.
But the 6-foot-2, 221-pound dynamo deflects much of the praise to his teammates - specifically the players blocking for him.
"I give it up to our linemen; without the line you're not going to win football games," Ballage said. "They make blocks for me to make big plays, and the offense has popped because of the guys blocking for me."
Ballage is following in his older brother's footsteps. Kennan Ballage led the 2007 Falcons to the state championship game before they fell 21-13 to Berthoud. That Ballage ran for 2,438 yards and 24 touchdowns his senior season; little brother is hoping to take it a step further and bring home the trophy.
"Clearly, I want to win state, but you have to put hard work in and beat the teams along the way you're supposed to beat," Ballage said. "This season feels great; that one loss is always in the back of your head, but we've moved on."
That one loss came to 4A power Pine Creek. The Falcons led 13-8 at the half before falling 29-13. However, behind Ballage, Falcon is looking ahead to what it hopes will be a deep run in the state playoffs.
Through it all, Ballage has been bombarded with attention from college football coaches nationally. Green says his star player has handled the process very well.
"He's on a lot of radars, but you would never know it if you didn't see what goes on behind the scenes," Green said. "Kalen is focused and driven to help this team win a state championship, and he's committed to his teammates."
Ballage says the college attention is exciting, but right now he has a narrow focus.
"I didn't know it was going to blow up like this, but I'm really glad it did and it's definitely a blessing," he said. "But I tell college coaches all the time that I'll deal with my recruitment after the season is over. Right now I'm about being there with my guys and we want to win state."
OTHER PEAK PERFORMERS
Klinton Spencer, Liberty
The senior scored his 15th and 16th goals of the season, and the Lancers clinched second in the 5A Metro League with a 3-1 win over Doherty. The win guaranteed Liberty a spot in the 5A playoffs.
Boys' and girls' cross country
The Vanguard School
The cross country programs at The Vanguard School made 2A history Oct. 18 at Fountain Creek Regional Park after both the boys' and girls' teams won their respective championship titles. This is the third year both of the Coursers' teams have won regional titles.
Alexa Smith, Lewis-Palmer
In what was the match of the year to this point, the junior had 28 kills, 14 digs and three blocks to help the Rangers to a five-set win at Cheyenne Mountain. The victory gave Lewis-Palmer the 4A Pikes Peak title with a 7-0 record and improved the Rangers to 17-1 overall.
Elway Tubbs, Vista Ridge
The sophomore quarterback went 20 for 28 for 312 yards and five touchdowns as the Wolves blanked Liberty 49-0. Tubbs threw two of his touchdowns to Jaquan Overbey, who totaled 120 receiving yards to go with 121 rushing yards and three total scores.