Sitting on the edge of postseason position, the Grand Junction High School football team needed a strong showing Friday night in its regular-season finale.
Led by Carson Loveridge and AJ Mariz, the Tigers did what they needed to with a 42-9 victory over Wheat Ridge at Stocker Stadium.
Grand Junction (5-5, 2-3 JeffCo) entered the night 17th in the Class 4A RPI, one spot outside of the 16-team field. The big nights by the Tigers' senior quarterback and running back could provide the boost needed to jump into the playoffs.
Mariz ran 13 times for 174 yards and four touchdowns and Loveridge had 31 carries for 161 yards and a score and added a kickoff return touchdown.
Loveridge finished the regular season with 236 carries for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. Mariz finished with 112 carries for 1,097 yards and 15 scores.
The Farmers (5-5, 1-3), who entered the night 24th in RPI, took an early lead on a field goal, but Loveridge returned the ensuing kickoff up the middle 70 yards for a 7-3 advantage.
On Grand Junction's next possession, Mariz kept the ball on a read option and took off up the gut for a 20-yard score, increasing the lead to 14-3.
Leading 14-9 in the second quarter, Mariz scored on a 4-yard scamper on a bootleg to the left.
The Tigers started the second half with a methodical drive that ate up nearly 8 minutes. Loveridge punctuated the possession with an 8-yard touchdown run.
Mariz completed his big night with touchdown runs of 34 and 37 yards in the final quarter.
Grand Junction outgained Wheat Ridge 357-168.
Central 28, Mesa Ridge 14: The Warriors (5-5, 4-1) clinched a second-place finish in the Southern Conference, finishing the regular season with the two-touchdown victory in Colorado Springs over the Grizzlies (5-5, 2-3).
Michael Gohn, Patrick Courtney and Elijah Romero scored touchdowns for Central, which entered the evening No. 22 in 4A RPI, six spots outside of the postseason.
Montrose 54, Aurora Central 13: The Indians (9-1, 4-1 Metro) hit the road to close out the regular season, jumping to a 40-7 lead over the Trojans (1-9, 0-5) at halftime.
Emmert Kastendieck scored on a 43-yard run to tie the game at 7-7 early. From there, Tayne Ila, Cole Simmons (three times) and Riley Barnhill scored short rushing touchdowns to put the game out of reach.
Montrose entered the night No. 4 in 4A RPI and will be at home for the first round of the playoffs.
Prep Volleyball Regionals
Delta and Plateau Valley both struggled in their respective regional volleyball tournaments, losing both of their matches.
The Panthers (12-12) lost to host Eagle Ridge Academy 3-1 and then were swept by Englewood in the Class 3A Region 6 tournament.
The Cowboys (14-8) were swept by top seed and host Denver Christian and by Peyton in the Class 2A Region 1 tournament. Denver Christian defeated Peyton to advance to the state tournament.