LAKEWOOD - Believing they needed to beat Wheat Ridge in order to secure a spot in the 4A playoffs, Green Mountain gave the Farmers all they could handle last Friday night.
Wheat Ridge was able to hang on and beat an underrated Green Mountain team 14-10 at Jefferson County Stadium, but the Rams still managed to sneak into the state tournament.
“They out played us physically, we have a problem letting up sometimes,” Wheat Ridge coach Reid Kahl said. “But it was a big win for us in terms of playoff seeding and having the opportunity to host in the first round.”
No. 6 Wheat Ridge (9-1, 4-1) will now face No. 11 Cheyenne Mountain Friday at 7 p.m. at Jeffco Stadium.
No. 15 Green Mountain (7-3, 3-2) will battle No. 2 Ponderosa Friday at 7 p.m. at Sports Authority Field.
However, last Friday night both teams showed they are capable of beating any team in the state with stout defensive efforts on both units.
The Farmers scored a touchdown on their first drive of the game but the Rams were able to take a 10-7 lead into halftime with a 7-yard touchdown reception by junior receiver Kyle Lichty and a 28-yard field goal.
Green Mountain was able to keep Wheat Ridge off of the scoreboard until late in the fourth quarter but the Rams coughed up two fumbles and the Farmers made them pay for the second.
Off the turnover Wheat Ridge senior running back Dominic Rael scored a game-winning touchdown from 12-yards out with just over three minutes left in the contest stealing the game away from Green Mountain.
“We were fired up and really wanted to win this game bad,” Rael said. “We have really bonded and are so much more mature than we used to be and we just do whatever it takes to win games.”
Green Mountain physically outplayed a usually very physical Wheat Ridge team, and looked like they were about to win the game and dramatically change the complexion of their playoff seed. But Wheat Ridge is in the middle of regaining the momentum they had earlier in the season that gained them the state’s number one ranking.
“They got outplayed, it should have been our game,” Lichty said. “If we would have followed through in the fourth quarter and not turned it over we win the game.”
Still, Green Mountain’s resurgence cannot be understated and while Tom Ward is extremely proud of his program’s turnaround the humble head coach refuses to take any credit.
“We just fly around, play hard and have fun, that’s all we do,” Ward said. “The guys deserve all the credit not me.”
Even with their early season loss of starting quarterback Ryan Girtin Wheat Ridge has been recognized as one of the best 4A teams in the state the entire season. The Farmers rolled through their schedule with their one hiccup being a 17-0 loss to South.
And while Green Mountain managed to sneak into the tournament as one of the last teams in, their resume certainly proves their worth.
“You do not want to play us right now if you are any team in the state.
“Even after our loss we have momentum and we are going to come out and hit everyone one we play in the mouth,” Lichty said.