Cedaredge tops Buena Vista to win 1A state title
BUENA VISTA — Late in the fourth quarter Saturday, Carter Wasser dove at the scrambling ankles. Reaching a hand at the heels of Buena Vista quarterback Koby Close, the Cedaredge High School senior middle linebacker swiped the foot. He made the third-down tackle, walked away holding his injured hand, and teammate Colton Ensley followed to straighten Wasser’s crooked helmet.
It was team football in action, and for the Bruins, it’s part of a state champion recipe. The Bruins, after three seasons with a losing record, won the school’s first football state championship with an 18-16 win over Buena Vista in the Class 1A state football championship at Buena Vista High School. Cedaredge did so with a combination of depth of talent, awareness of teammates and a toughness that players and coaches found indescribable.
“If I could pinpoint it,” Cedaredge coach Brandon Milholland said, “I’d write a book and make millions.”
Instead, he made wins. Twelve in a row. And in the process, the Bruins (12-1) ended Buena’s Vista’s 12-game win streak (12-1). The Bruins even played injured. Wasser, who all season has played with an bad shoulder, was stifling from his middle linebacker position and helped limit Buena Vista to its lowest scoring output of the season. The Demons before Saturday had averaged 46 points and 333 rushing yards per game.
“We get to go back to school proud,” Wasser said.
Wasser also had 12 carries for 54 yards, and late in the fourth quarter, on fourth-and-goal from the 8, ran for a touchdown. Wasser took an option pitch from Dante Markley and flopped into the end zone on his back, putting the Bruins ahead, 18-9, with 3 minutes remaining.
Markley, after missing the Bruins’ semifinal win over Hotchkiss with concussion symptoms, was cleared Friday to play his final high school game. Because of his Friday afternoon doctor’s appointment, Markley did not go to Buena Vista on the team bus.
Another part of the state-title recipe: Filling in for guys such as Markley, who had rushed and passed for more than 1,000 yards. Junior Trent Walker started at quarterback, completing his first five passes as the Bruins softened the Buena Vista defense for rushers such as Wasser and Reid Gates, both of whom had a first-quarter touchdown run to put Cedaredge up 12-0.
Safety Peter Williamson started for Markley at safety, and was a reason the Bruins caused the Demons to turn the ball over on downs three times.
Milholland said Markley did not start so that Markley could be protected from further injury.
Bruins defensive end Kyle Ward had two sacks, one of which came with Cedaredge ahead 12-2 early in the fourth quarter. The sack forced a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Beau Hebert.
“They attacked gaps in our 4-4 (defense),” Ward said. “We tried our best to shut them down and we succeeded.”
That defense limited Close to 69 yards rushing and Dakoda DeFurio to 100 yards rushing on 15 carries.
“We just got outplayed today,” Buena Vista coach Matt Flavin said. “I can’t take anything away from Cedaredge. They came ready, they had the perfect defensive game plan to stop us. We just came up short on both sides of the ball.”
Bruins cornerback Cade Wasser also had an interception and, after Buena Vista closed the margin to 18-16 on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Close to Andrew McFarland with 30 seconds remaining, hopped on the Demons’ final onside kick. Wasser did so with a blood defect in his right knee that he said does not allow enough blood to reach part of his femur, causing small pieces of bone to break away.
“Everyone just flew around,” Cade Wasser said. “People were overcoming adversity. Even injuries. It’s something where you just work for the person next to you and you would die for that guy. That kind of environment, it has to be there I think.”