ENGLEWOOD – Motivation was rocket fuel for the soaring Dakota Ridge Eagles.
Colorado’s No. 1-seeded Class 4A team had heard whispers and hints that their perfect track record and laughably skewed wins were byproducts of a weak schedule.
“Yeah, we kind of got out with a little chip on our shoulder,” senior quarterback Ben Gultig said Saturday night in the cold Pirates Stadium at Engelwood High School.
Gultig’s grin spread from ear to ear. And why not? His unbeaten Eagles (7-0) had just beaten Montrose 76-34 in the quarter-finals of 4A and earned a trip to the semi-finals next week against unbeaten Loveland (7-0).
The Eagles’ pyrotechnic attack put on a remarkable show on Saturday. On the third game of the game, Gultig shot through the middle of the Indians’ defense for a 53-meter touchdown sprint. It was a hint of things to come. Remarkably, Dakota Ridge scored on all of his 12 offensive possessions – scored 10 touchdowns and added two field goals from Tilo Pena, including a 46-yarder at the end of the half that would have been good from 60 yards.
“I never dreamed of getting 76 points,” said head coach Ron Woitalewicz, who made sure to credit offensive coordinator Jeremiah Behrendsen. “Part of it was we got early turnovers and got some short fields to work with. Our offense is hard to stop when you have 80 yards to go. You give us 30 or 35 yards and it will really make it difficult for you. “
Montrose quickly discovered that reality. Two fumbles in the first quarter quickly turned into Dakota Ridge TDs – a 2-yard run by Charlie Offerdahl and an 8-yard reception by Mason Galbreath. The Eagles led 21-0 after less than five minutes into the game.
Yes, the Indians (4-3) were clearly overmatched, but they played gusty, rock hard football. As Woitalewicz put it, “Our boys will feel it tomorrow.” And if there hadn’t been four lost fumbles and an interception, Montrose would have made it a closer match.
After being stunned early on, they did what they did best. They accumulated 80-yard scoring runs on 18 plays (a 3-yard TD pass from Keagen Goodwin to Trent Blundell), and 80 yards on 16 plays (Austin Griffin dropped in from the 1-yard line) to cut the Dakota Ridge lead to 24-14 late in the first half.
But the Indians’ momentum was shorted by a perfect 44-yard stroke from Gultig to Galbreth.
“Our leash carries us on their back, so I want to say that first. They lead us to victory, ”said Gultig, who finished with three TD passes. “But Mason and I have been playing together for about five years now and we’ve just expanded that connection and it’s been showing for the past few games.”
The Eagles have outperformed the opponents 384-36 this season. It’s easy to see why. Consider the pace of sophomore Noah Triplett pulled back, who shot in the middle for a 60-yard TD run to make it 56-28 late in the third quarter. Or Dante Capoulungo, who jumped a pass into the flat for an interception and was in the end zone a game later after a 7 yards touchdown run.
Although the Indians were routed, they had some magical moments in their final game of 2020, most notably fast freshman Blake Griffin, who had a 21-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and a 56-yard run to finish later in the game set up a touchdown again. quarter.