The Fruita Monument Wildcats made the journey across the mountains to the south metro to take on the Heritage Eagles at the LPS Stadium on Sept. 29. The Wildcats found victory against the Eagles for the first time by outscoring Heritage 37-34.
Heritage walks away with a record of 3-3; Fruita Monument enjoys a two-week winning streak and stands at 4-2.
Going into this matchup as a historic underdog, Wildcats coach Cameron Ross was focused on both sides of the ball.
“Defensively, we have to limit the big plays. We have to make them earn everything they get.” Ross said. “Offensively, we have to control the ball, control the clock and make them frustrated by keeping them off the field”.
The Wildcats took advantage of this focus by scoring the game’s first three touchdowns in the first half.
The Wildcats’ Amari Wilson praised the defense.
“[The defense] showed up tonight, and I am forever thankful for that,” Wilson said.
Wilson ran for four touchdowns during the game. Most notably, in the fourth quarter, while down by three points in the final two minutes, the Wildcats completed a huge 40-yard pass to Wildcat Landen Phillips.
Following that explosive play, Wilson made a 20-yard run by dodging multiple defenders and forcefully driving the ball into the end zone.
“It felt great,” Wilson said after the match, recalling the game-winning touchdown.
Throughout the game, the Wildcats showed their tenacity, but the Eagles certainly did not give up their loss easily, which kept the outcome uncertain until the last few moments of play.
The Eagles, although scoring a field goal and then a touchdown by Camden Jensen in the first half, started to find their stride after halftime. Coach Tyler Knoblock was determined to stay focused on building his team’s confidence.
“High school football teams when they’re playing with confidence can be completely different,” Knoblock said. “Just keep their confidence up.”
Early in the second half, confident Eagles Jett Balika and Luca Pesola found the end zone, giving their team the lead. That lead and confidence were further padded when the Wildcats made an error—failing to catch the hiked ball—on a special team punt that ended with a safety. Along with completing two of three of their 2-point conversion tries, the Eagles showed they have growing confidence as a team.
This loss was a hard one for the Eagles’ team and fans. They didn’t give up, scoring their last touchdown late in the fourth quarter and placing them ahead of the Wildcats in points with only minutes left.
But in the end, the Wildcats had more opportunities, and they capitalized on them while not allowing any lead loss to get them down.
“We got to do better, just with executing. And I put that on myself”, Eagles captain Kurt Rossner said at the end of the game.