ThunderRidge is on its way. Having reached the Class 5A state championship football playoffs for the first time in school history, given that it’s …
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ThunderRidge is on its way.
Having reached the Class 5A state championship football playoffs
for the first time in school history, given that it’s their debut
season in the classification, the Grizzlies advanced to the second
round of the bracket after a 40-14 win over the No. 30-seeded
ThunderRidge played host as the No. 3 seed Oct. 30 at Shea
Stadium in Highlands Ranch.
With the win, they advance to the second round against Douglas
County, the No. 14 seed, in a rematch of the season opener where
the Grizzlies beat the Huskies in an overtime nail biter.
Grizzlies coach Joe Johnson said Overland had him cautious about
“They had me very, very worried,” Johnson said. “They have some
very fast backs that can get away. They’ve gotten away against
everybody. We had one bad one, a kick-off return there; other than
that, we were pretty tough.”
Senior tailback Chris Nwoke punched in three touchdown runs
against the Trailblazers, including a 53-yard jaunt in the second
Nwoke finished with 153 rushing yards. Receiver Jared Faulkner,
who had 144 yards pulling them from the air, had two touchdown
receptions from quarterback Tim Jenkins.
Jenkins had a 30-yard touchdown pass to Faulkner in the second
quarter, helping T-Ridge lead 27-7 at half time.
Jenkins, who had 211 passing yards, had another 30-yard TD pass,
this time to Dave Arnold in the third quarter.
“We saw [their defense had ]a lot of 8-in-the-box, when they
were walking up that extra safety up they had,” Jenkins said. “We
knew they were going to have 1-on-1 coverage, so with the speed of
our wide [options], we knew we could get past them.”
Still, Overland has proven to be a playoff-worthy team when all
its pistons are firing together; something of which Johnson was
“I knew they had some guys who could get away and score, and we
knew they had some problems in the past — turnovers and penalties,
but if they could put it together, they could be dangerous,” the
coach said. “I’m really pleased with this win.”
With Nwoke anchoring the running game and Faulkner being
Jenkins’ go-to man in the air, Johnson said the ThunderRidge
offense was able to open up the field.
“We felt like we could do some things,” Johnson said. “Chris
[Nwoke] can match them. He’s somebody who can matched their speed
for us. I thought Jared Faulkner did too. He’s got some deceptive
speed and quickness. … That’s helped us stretch the field. Those
two guys can create space for us, and we’ve got some other guys who
can make plays.”
With a rematch with Douglas County looming, the Grizzlies’
confidence of an undefeated regular season and a Southern League
title is going to help them against a Huskies team far more
developed since the overtime opener.
County, which was responsible for the most points allowed
against T-Ridge in a game this season, hasn’t allowed its opponents
more than 10 points in a game in the past five weeks.
And the Huskies offense has averaged almost 40 points per game
over the past four weeks.
What’s more, as Mountain Vista can attest, the Huskies have not
been beaten in the playoffs by another Douglas County team since
its 2005 state championship season; however, T-Ridge knows how to
“We have to shut down No. 30 [Jose] Astorga,” Jenkins said. “We
just have to play like we did the first time. Everyone was pretty
nervous that first game. I think we’ve gotten a lot more solid.
They’re just now starting to get healthy. That’s why you’re
starting to see them play better football. It’ll be a good
ThunderRidge plays host to the rematch against County at 7 p.m.
Nov. 7 at Shea Stadium in Highlands Ranch.
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