Skeptics were watching the outcome of the first-round Class 5A playoffs game between Highlands Ranch and Doherty on Nov. 2 at Shea Stadium. Highlands Ranch was seeded No. 15 and entered the playoffs …
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Skeptics were watching the outcome of the first-round Class 5A playoffs game between Highlands Ranch and Doherty on Nov. 2 at Shea Stadium.
Highlands Ranch was seeded No. 15 and entered the playoffs with a sub-500 record of 3-7 but the Falcons showed they are playoff worthy with a 28-7 win over the Spartans and advanced into a second-round game against second-seeded Columbine.
“This win proves we should be in the playoffs,” said running back/linebacker Cole Lundquist. “I want Columbine again. They kicked us out of the playoffs last year and they beat us again at homecoming this year, so I want them again.”
Highlands Ranch coach John Trahan felt justified by the Ratings Percentage Index standings, which helped in the selection of the playoff teams. The Falcons were ranked 18th in the final RPI standings.
“People can say what they want to say but we're a quality football team,” he said “We faced some of the best as we proved last week against the No. 1 team (Valor Christian). People don't understand how the RPI went and why it went the way it did. It would help if more information was put out about it.
“I knew we were in a position to play a good football team, which we did against Doherty, and either do what we did or guess what? If we didn't, then that would raise some more questions of why we were in the playoffs.”
Columbine, undefeated this season, ousted the Falcons from the 2017 playoffs with a 45-14 first-round victory and downed the Falcons, 46-16, on Sept. 19 this season. The teams will meet again at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Jeffco Stadium.
“Columbine is a team we've already played this year and we're looking forward to it,” added Trahan. “It you want to be the best you have to play the best. We want to play against the best competition. We're in a good position. I tell our guys that no one expects us to do anything. It's how you step up and compete, do your best and let the scoreboard read what it does and be happy with it.”
The Falcons were not happy with the scoreboard at halftime against Doherty as the Spartans held a 7-6 lead at the intermission. Highlands Ranch squandered several first-half scoring chances with a lost fumble in the red zone, two missed field goals and a failed extra point on a mishandled snap.
“The change we made is that we knew we could physically dominate up front and we needed to establish a ground game,” Trahan said. “I felt once we did that we could take control of the game. We got away from that in the first half. In the end, we got back to what we felt would be a winning formula in this game and it worked out for us in the second half.”
Highlands Ranch finished with 295 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Lundquist, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior, ran for 113 yards and two scores. He was also the leading tackler on defense with 10 total tackles.
Sophomore Dylan Gurule gained 86 yards and ran for two TDs. Sophomore quarterback Jake Rubley passed for 52 yards and added 81 yards rushing.
The defense got strong contributions from Brody Rule and Brennen Bailey, who were credited with nine tackles each, while Konor Lathrop and Grant Stewartson were in on eight stops.
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