Green Mountain hadn’t trailed at any point in a football game all season until the third quarter Saturday afternoon at Jeffco Stadium.
No. 9-seeded Roosevelt — defending Class 3A state champions — grabbed a 21-18 lead after recovering an onside kick to start the second half. The Roughriders got a 46-yard touchdown catch from freshman Noah Lucero thrown by senior quarterback Bronco Hartson in the opening minute of the third quarter.
“We were just thinking about the next play. Control what we can control,” Green Mountain senior quarterback Blake Weslin said of the Rams falling behind early in the third quarter of the 3A state quarterfinal game. “We were focused on playing the rest of the game.”
The rest of the game was all Green Mountain. The top-seeded Rams scored 22 unanswered points to close out a 40-21 lead to punch their ticket to host a 3A semifinal game next week against No. 5 Lutheran.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know we were behind,” Green Mountain coach Jesse German said. “That is the mindset that I try to teach these kids, to play like the scoreboard doesn’t matter. Whether we are ahead or behind we just try to play our best.”
Weslin was at his best leading the Rams on an 80-yard, eight-play drive to get the lead back 26-21 midway through the third quarter. Weslin had two big pass plays to senior Nowell Dacres and junior Dax Gomez to get deep into Roosevelt territory.
“If there is a better player in Colorado than Blake Weslin, I want to see him,” German said of his two-way senior quarterback/linebacker.
Weslin scored on a 12-yard touchdown run to close out the go-ahead drive.
“It is what we’ve practiced for,” Weslin said of the Rams responding against the defending 3A state champs. “Putting all that work in practice and over the summer. It all leads up to this moment and we executed perfectly.”
Roosevelt (9-3) drove into Green Mountain territory on the next drive, but senior George Soppe tipped a pass over the middle that was intercepted by junior Demetreus Padilla. Three plays later Soppe broke loose for a 69-yard touchdown run to give Green Mountain a 33-21 lead.
Soppe had a 40-yard run in the first half to set up Weslin’s first touchdown run of the game in the first quarter. Soppe had just 14 carries for 149 yards on the season before nearly doubling his yardage Saturday.
“Of course I like to get the ball, but it’s all about the team,” Soppe said of his five carries for 146 yards. “We have a ton of studs out here. Any one of them can take the ball and make a play out here.”
Green Mountain (12-0) has had a remarkably balanced offensive attack. Through the Rams first 11 games they didn’t have a player with more than 500 yards rushing or more than 70 carries. Green Mountain also didn’t have a receiver with more than 200 yards or 15 catches.
“George Soppe is a heck of a ballplayer and I’ve been saving him,” German said. “I think that surprise is out now, but that is OK. He had a great game.”
Weslin sealed the victory with a 75-yard touchdown run with 8:56 left in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 40-21.
The Roughriders went through Green Mountain last season on the way to the 3A state championship. Roosevelt handled the Rams 30-3 in the semifinals up in Johnstown. The Roughriders defeated Lutheran 34-24 in the title game in Pueblo to complete an undefeated 14-0 record last year.
“That redemption is something we’ve been working toward all week,” said Soppe, who missed last year’s semifinal with an injury. “We wanted this so bad. We came out here and did it. We knew we were going to have some adversity. We obviously we responded well.”
Lutheran is also looking for some redemption next week trying to get back to the title game that they lost last season.
“We are so excited for this,” Weslin said of the Rams facing Lutheran in the semifinals next week at Jeffco Stadium. “After how it ended last year we’ve been waiting for this moment. We are ready to play.”
Green Mountain will be again one step away from getting to the championship game. The Rams’ last state football title was in 1999.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our team, our community, our school,” German said. “It is a great day to be a ram.”
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.