Thunder take to the air in pummeling Panthers


COLORADO SPRINGS - A new wrinkle in the Discovery Canyon offense was unveiled earlier this month and it took full effect during the team’s Oct. 27 football game with Woodland Park.

Junior quarterback Alec Wirtjes went to the air and threw four touchdown passes - two to junior Michael Beiswenger - during a 49-14 thrashing of Woodland Park in a Class 3A South Central League game played at District 20 Stadium.

“It was something we’ve never done before,” Wirtjes said about the team’s sudden and unpredicted air attack. “Some of those I was getting rushed hard, but I had a lot of confidence in my receiver. I just got out of the pocket and got it to him and let him do the rest.”

Beiswenger caught touchdown passes from Wirtjes of 48 and 23 yards.

He finished with three catches for 75 yards.

“It felt really good,” said Beiswenger, who has touchdown catches in three consecutive games. “Now that we’re putting the ball in the air it makes everything better, and the way that we can do it successfully is pretty good.

“It definitely makes teams think about our passing game a lot, and our running game. It makes us more balanced, and it’s getting better as the season progresses.”

The 6-foot-4 Wirtjes also threw touchdown passes to running backs Steve Turner (33 yards) and Ben Gilson of (27 yards).

Turner added a 1-yard touchdown run, Adrian Mack broke loose on an 80-yard touchdown scamper and Scott Betzer capped the scoring with a 24-yard touchdown run.

The victory ensured the Thunder (8-1, 4-0) of at least a tie for the league title - its first ever - with one game remaining Friday at Coronado (5-4, 3-1). Discovery Canyon has never qualified for the playoffs.

“If we win this game we get the league championship we’ve never had at our school and we’ll be going to the playoffs with a guaranteed top seven seed, which also guarantees a home game,” Wirtjes said. “If we can focus on this team and get the `W’ we’ll be in a lot better shape for playoffs.”

Discovery Canyon’s new aerial attack might just have opposing teams second-guessing their defense schemes come playoff time.

The Thunder averages 241 rushing yards per game.

“We’ve had different points during the season when we’ve wanted to open up our passing game,” said Thunder coach Shawn Mitchell. “Some games we’ve needed it and some games we’ve shied away from it. The last couple of weeks we opened it up and tried to work on that area of our game.

“Obviously, the first and foremost we want to win. We’re going to run the ball and put it in the hands of the kids we’re confident in running it. But we also want to see Alec throw the ball and have these receivers go up after it, too.”


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