LAKEWOOD (11/8/14) – The undefeated champ took a first-quarter body blow from the challenger, but Evergreen steadied itself to score 24 unanswered points and defeat Glenwood Springs, 24-7, in the first round of the 3A football playoffs at Trailblazer Stadium in Lakewood Saturday.
The Cougars (11-0), who averaged nearly 40 points a game in sailing through the Metro North League to earn the second playoff seed, scored their first, and last, points on safeties and shut down the Glenwood offense after falling behind 7-0 on a 20-yard run by Dante Sparaco with 5:19 to go in the first quarter.
Glenwood’s 57-yard scoring drive began with a perfectly thrown 22-yard pass to Evrett Marr. For the rest of the game, Sparaco was 5-19 for 37 yards and was sacked 7 times for a loss of 48. Marr set up his sophomore quarterback’s 12th rushing touchdown of the season with a 13-yard run. Evergreen, which held opponents to an average of 8 points a game this season, then clamped down on the Demons’ rushing attack, allowing 45 yards in 12 carries.
Sam Carver intercepted Cougar QB Dylan Reifeis at the goal line following the Glenwood scoring drive, but Luke Prosence was tackled in the end zone on the next play to produce the unusual 7-2 score after the first quarter.
After the safety, Chase Nieslanik boomed a 69 yard punt from his 20, but Reisfeis drove the Cougars 76 yards in 12 plays, ending with a 37-yard field goal from Davis Price, cutting the lead to 7-5 two minutes into the second period.
Reisfeis, who threw for 1,588 yards and 17 touchdowns in the regular season, made the play of the game on the Cougars’ next possession. Facing 3-11 at the Demon 41, the junior quarterback was chased out of the pocket and outran several defenders toward the right sideline before unleashing a missile to Seth Ausman alone in the end zone. That incredible scramble and throw seemed to take the air out of a large Glenwood crowd and gave the Cougars their first led, 12-7 with 6:34 to go in the half.
Sparaco was sacked, one of seven times he would go down to the Cougar pass rush, forcing Nieslanik to punt and Connor Solawetz grabbed a tricky hop and returned it 19 yards to the Glenwood 39. Reifeis scrambled out of trouble and ran 9 yards for a first down to the 27, where he was hit out of bounds to move the ball to the 12. On 3rd and 7, Robbie Weinel eluded two diving Demon defenders for a 9 yard TD and a 19-7 lead with 3:28 remaining in the half.
Glenwood mounted what would essentially be its final attempt to get back into the game, gaining two first downs to midfield when a shotgun snap got by Sparaco for a 12-yard loss, killing the drive.
Nieslanik would punt three more times in the third quarter, on his way to 502 yards in ten attempts, while the Demon offense netted minus five yards and Sparaco was 0-for-7 passing with 3 sacks. The beleaguered defense held Evergreen to a 27 yard field goal by Davis.
Four more punts and three sacks in the fourth quarter, including one for a safety with 33 seconds to play, ended the Glenwood season with a 6-5 record.
Reifeis finished with 170 yards passing, but completed just 11-of-32 passes. Sparaco was 6-of-20 for 59 yards. “He didn’t have his best day,” coach Rocky Whitworth said, “but as a sophomore, it’s pretty extraordinary what he’s done this year.”
“They put a lot of pressure on him, so he was off balance delivering the ball,” senior receiver Evrett Marr said of Sparaco. For Marr and eighteen Glenwood seniors, it was back-to-back playoff seasons. “There’s no regrets,” Marr said. “It was an awesome season and we gave it everything we got.
Evergreen, called “the most complete team we’ve faced,” by Whitworth, will face the winner of Fort Morgan and Holy Family next weekend. “We had to execute perfectly against this team, which we didn’t do,” Whitworth added. Talking about the senior class, Whitworth said, “We’re gonna miss ‘em; it’s a good class and it’s been fun working with them. Hopefully, this football thing they did will help them later in life. I wish them the best.”
GLENWOOD SPRINGS , EVERGREEN
Glenwood Spgs 7 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 7
Evergreen 2 – 17 – 3 – 2 – 24
GS – Dante Sparaco 20 run (Herbie Vega kick), 5:19
E – Safety, 2:01.
E- FG Davis Price, 37, 10:06
E- Seth Ausman 41 pass from Dylan Reisfeis (Price kick), 6:34 E- Robbie Weinel 9 run (Price kick), 3:28.
E- Price 27 yard field goal, 5:17.
E- Safety, 0:33.
First downs 7 16
Rushes-yards 29-47 44-202
Passing yards 59 170
Total yards 106 372
Comp-Att-Int 6-20-0 11-32-1
Punts-Avg 10-50.2 4-34.2
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 3-40 8-78
RUSHING- GS, Prosence 7-18, Sparaco 20-15, Marr 2-14. Evergreen, T.Cassin 22-133, Reifeis 9-40, Weinel 8-18, Hayes 3-8, Reed 2/3.
PASSING- GS, Sparaco 6-20-0-59. Evergreen, Reifeis 11-32-1-170.
RECEIVING- GS, Nieslanik 3-28, Marr 2-22, Gentry 1-9.
Evergreen, M. Cassin 4-63, O’Hearn 3-16, Ausman 2-53, Weinel 1/13, T Cassin 1-12