Columbine too much

Rebels end GJ's season

LAKEWOOD, CO. - NOVEMBER 8: Grand Junction senior running back Austin Lewis (48) couldn’t hang onto a pass as he was hit by a pair of Rebel defenders including Trenton Kusterer (59) in the first half. The Columbine High School football team faced Grand Junction in a playoff game at Jefferson County Stadium Friday night, November 8, 2013. Photo By Karl Gehring/The Denver Post

LAKEWOOD — The Columbine High School football team didn’t do anything Grand Junction didn’t expect in Friday’s second round of the Class 5A state playoffs.

The Rebels (10-1) played Columbine football, and that was enough to propel them to a 41-6 victory and end the Tigers’ playoff run.

After holding the Rebels on fourth down on their first drive, the Tigers (8-3) looked as if they were going to make this one a defensive battle.

Then the floodgates opened.

On Columbine’s second series, the Rebels faced a fourth down and 15 yards to go from the Tigers’ 29-yard line. Austin Norton, the Rebels’ third leading rusher on the season, took a handoff and went around right end to paydirt.

An interception on Grand Junction’s first play from scrimmage after the kickoff set up the Rebels’ second score, a six-play drive culminating in fullback Jeremy Aparicio’s one-yard plunge for the score.

By the time the half ended, Columbine scored three more times, including runs of 27 and 58 yards, and the Rebels even went to their rarely used passing game for another score to lead 35-0 at the break.

Columbine scored on its opening series of the second half to start the running clock.

As Tigers coach Robbie Owens expected, “Once (the Rebels) got rolling and started playing Columbine football, they’re a tough team to stop.”

And that was without their leading rusher, Bernard McDondle, making much of an impact. The Tigers held him to 45 yards rushing (he had more than 1,500 rushing yards entering the game). McDondle left after being injured on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.

Aparicio did most of the damage, running 20 times for 148 yards and three touchdowns.

“Our main focus was on (Aparicio) all week. Obviously we didn’t accomplish that,” Owens said.

Tigers leading rusher Austin Lewis said Grand Junction’s offense, which gained only 143 total yards, was thrown off in part by Columbine’s blitz package.

“We were having problems getting (blocks) off their linebackers,” said Lewis, who finally put Grand Junction on the board with a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.

The Rebels finished with 357 yards, 329 on the ground.

Despite the disappointing end to the season, Owens and Lewis, as well as the rest of the team, take good memories from the season.

“We have a great senior class,” Lewis said, hoping the standard has been set for what is expected.

Owens concurred.

“I’m just so proud of this senior class,” he said. “They’re a fun group to coach.”

But, Owens added, “Tradition never graduates.”


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