Littleton gave Lions fans a lot to cheer about as the football team combined a balanced attack and a stingy defense to post a 21-3 win over Kennedy on Oct. 25, which was senior night and the final home game of the season.
“This was a good game for our kids and it shows them that, if we work hard, we get better every week,” Littleton coach Kurt Krantz said after the game. “It is important to finish strong and this is a step in that direction.
The victory raised the Lions' season mark to 4-5 and at least gave them an outside chance to make the Class 4A playoffs, provided they close out the season Oct. 31 with a win over Dakota Ridge.
Littleton faces a challenge against the Eagles as they are second in the league with a 6-3 record.
Statistics show the Eagles like to throw the ball, as quarterback Braxton Thais has completed 144 of 231 passes for 2,031 yards and 20 touchdowns. However, they also have a strong game with Aaron Nelson as the leader, as he has carried 191 times for 1,004 yards and 17 touchdowns.
The game will be played at 6 p.m. Oct. 31 in Trailblazer Stadium in Jefferson County.
On Oct. 25, Littleton kicked off to Kennedy, stopped the Commanders and forced a punt. The Lions then mounted a sustained drive and scored a touchdown on a one-yard run by Austin Sonju. The extra point try failed, so the score was 6-0 with 4:51 left in the first quarter.
Kennedy rebounded with a drive that took them to the Lions' nine-yard line. However, penalties and a sack pushed the Commanders back so they finally kicked a 23-yard field goal near the end of the quarter to make the score 6-3 at halftime.
Littleton took the second-half kickoff and launched another drive. The big play was a long pass from Nick McNamee to Austin Biebar that took the ball to the Kennedy six-yard line. The same duo then teamed up for an aerial touchdown play. The two-point conversion was good so the score was 14-3 early in the third quarter.
Later in the third period, the Lions struck again. The 60-yard drive culminated with an eight-yard run by Noah McGhee. The extra point was good and the Lions won the game 21-3, since there was no scoring in the final quarter.
“Our kids played hard. We have about 20 seniors on the team, it was their last game and all our guys wanted the win for them,” the coach said.
Senior McNamee said the Lions' game plan was to use a strong running game to set up the passes.
“We ran plays hard inside the tackles and usually gained yardage,” the quarterback said. “Running the ball set up our bootleg passes that helped us move the ball.”
He said this personally was an emotional game since it was the last time he would play high school football in front of the home crowd.
“We have worked hard, it has been a pretty good season and tonight's win was sweet,” he said. “It helps our record and gives us at least a small chance to get into the state playoffs as we go into the last game of the regular season.”
McNamee finished the night completing 10 of 14 passes for 161 yards, and his longest of the night was 67 yards. He passed for a touchdown and he also rushed eight times for 20 yards.
The running game was working as McGee carried 10 times for 86 yards and Sonju carried 19 times for 84 yards.
Leading receivers included Tre Blake with four catches for 87 yards and Bieber with five catches for 69 yards.
Defensively, the Lions held the Kennedy offense in check, giving up some yardage but no touchdowns. One of the defensive leaders was senior Sean Malloy.
“Kennedy was a decent team and they fought hard the whole game,” he said after the game. “Like the other seniors, this was an emotional game for me. It was hard to be here tonight and to realize it is my final time to play on this field. We really wanted this game and it felt good to win tonight.”
Malloy plays both offense and defense but said he likes to play offense best.
“I like the feeling I get when I make a good block on a guy and put him on his back. I had a couple of those tonight,” he said with a smile. “I did pretty well on defense as I made some tackles and we won the game, so it turned out to be a good night all around.”