Bulldogs passed by
Holy Family's passing attack too much for Palisade in loss
Joe Ramunno couldn’t remember the last time one of his Palisade High School football teams had been beaten so soundly.
“Man, it’s been a while,” the longtime coach of the Bulldogs said Friday. “I don’t know when the last time was that happened, to be honest. And that kind of tells you where we’re at right now, too.”
It’s also an indication of what kind of team Holy Family is.
The Tigers, ranked third in the Colorado High School Activities Association’s Class 3A preseason poll, lived up to that billing against eighth-ranked Palisade. Holy Family got a great performance from junior quarterback Stone Samaras, who dissected the Bulldogs’ secondary for 384 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-20 victory at Stocker Stadium.
“That’s a very good team over there, and we really weren’t a very good matchup for them either,” Ramunno said. “What we wanted to do was control the ball and control possession, and we couldn’t even do that. We knew how potent their offense was, and to get defensive stops was a pretty tough thing for us to do. And that’s disappointing.
“We thought we would be able to give them a little better go than that.”
The Tigers (2-0) made the game a laugher in the middle of the second quarter thanks to Samaras, who completed 24 of 33 passes and threw one interception. He had touchdown tosses of 51, 35 and 39 yards to Kyle Helbig, who finished with 191 receiving yards on seven catches and was one of seven Holy Family players to catch a pass. That depth kept Palisade (1-1) off balance even after its secondary made adjustments to counter the Tigers’ big-play passes early on.
“We throw (Samaras) a lot of freedom and allow him to make a lot of on-the-fly decisions on the field,” Holy Family coach Mike Gabriel said. “He’s grown an awful lot in the last year, for sure.”
Palisade’s Terrance Williams had a game-high 149 rushing yards on 16 carries but was limited to only 42 yards in the first half when the Tigers began to pull away. The Bulldogs tallied 274 rushing yards, but 166 of those came in the second half when Holy Family had built a four-touchdown lead.
Early on, the game looked like it would be competitive.
Short touchdown runs by Braedon Peters and Hayden Strange gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead. Palisade made it a one-score game in the beginning of the second quarter, capping an eight-play, 65-yard drive with a 1-yard TD from Williams that made it 14-8 after Jason Bruce’s conversion run.
Sebastian Campbell built on Palisade’s momentum, intercepting Samaras and streaking 67 yards up the west sideline to the end zone. The conversion pass failed, but Campbell’s pick-six with 8 minutes, 56 seconds left in the first half tied the game at 14-14 with the Bulldogs’ second TD in 34 seconds.
Palisade forced the Tigers into a fourth-and-1 on their own 49 on the next series, but Samaras gave momentum back to the Tigers’ for good, hitting Helbig over the top for a 51-yard touchdown pass and a 21-14 Holy Family lead.
Five more Holy Family TDs followed, with an 11-yard jaunt from Mitchell Guyott with 1:48 left in the third kicking in the running clock.
“We’re young, but you know what? We can’t use that as an excuse,” Ramunno said. “That’s the reality of it. When you play a team like this that’s established, you have to be able to take a step up. We can’t hang our heads and sulk, because that’s not going to get the job done. The only way I know we can fix this is to get our nose to the grindstone and get back to work so we can get back to being who we are.”