Golden faces three-time state champion Palmer Ridge in opener

Dennis Pleuss
Jeffco Public Schools
Posted 10/14/20

ARVADA — Golden football had a tall order in its season opener Friday, Oct 9, at the North Area Athletic Complex. Golden was coming off its most successful season since its run to the Class 4A …

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Golden faces three-time state champion Palmer Ridge in opener

Posted

ARVADA — Golden football had a tall order in its season opener Friday, Oct 9, at the North Area Athletic Complex.

Golden was coming off its most successful season since its run to the Class 4A state runner-up back in 2002. The Demons went 8-3 last season, including a state playoff berth. Head coach Jared Yannacito is beginning his fourth season at the helm of the resurgent Demon football program.

However, Golden was handed an extremely talented and motivated Palmer Ridge squad to open the season. The Bears dominated the Demons with a 42-7 victory.

“They are a three-time defending state championship team,” Yannacito said. “They have kids who have been on the biggest stage. Their program is very good. That is more athletic and speed that I even saw in my old Pomona days. They have a handful of Division I guys.”

Yannacito played at Pomona and was an assistant coach with the Panthers before taking over Golden’s football program.

“These are games you learn from, grow from and you build on,” Yannacito said. “I’m extremely proud of how our defense played at times. Our offense just couldn’t keep the momentum going.”

Golden did get blown out in Florida to open its season last year and responded with a 5-game winning streak. Senior quarterback Joey Mancuso threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to senior Adam Feasel in the closing minutes to end the shutout bid by Palmer Ridge.

The Demons get into 4A Jeffco League action next week against Standley Lake on Friday night back at the NAAC.

“We’ll be fine,” Yannacito said.

Palmer Ridge’s football program said hello to the Class 4A classification in a big way.

“We have a lot to prove coming from 3A. Especially coming off a state championship,” Palmer Ridge senior captain Saxon Wright said. “We have a lot of returning guys, but we still had a lot to prove tonight.”

Palmer Ridge made the jump for the new two-year CHSAA cycle moving up to 4A in football. The Bears dominated 3A the past three years, winning a trio of state titles while amassing a 38-4 record.

The Bears — No. 5 in the CHSAANow.com 4A preseason rankings — looked more than prepared for the jump in classification against Golden at the NAAC.

“We are excited,” Palmer Ridge senior quarterback Luke McAllister said after throwing four touchdown passes in the win. “Everyone was saying we are just 3A and we wouldn’t be able to adjust. I think we came out here and proved that we can hang.”

McAllister hooked up with junior Anthony Costanzo for three of his touchdown passes. The first two scores came in the opening five minutes of the game.

“My man (Costanzo) balled out,” McAllister said of his main target Friday. “He did exactly what he is supposed to do. He caught some touchdowns. I’m super proud of him.”

Wright had a pair of short touchdown runs for the Bears (1-0 record). He also anchored Palmer Ridge’s stout defense that didn’t allow Golden to get a first down until the Demons’ fifth possession.

“It has been a little weird because we’ve really had just light contact,” Wright said with no scrimmages before the Bears’ opener. “We came out and showed our defense can shutdown teams.”

The lone crack in Palmer Ridge’s armor was McAllister getting intercepted twice in the second quarter. Golden senior Sam Aranda picked off the Colorado State University-commit on the first play of the second quarter. Golden junior Josh Torrey made a juggling interception later in the quarter.

McAllister vowed to atone for those mistakes for the remainder of the season.

“Last year I threw three picks all season. I can’t let that get in my head,” McAllister said. “Each week I’ve got to get better. I expect zero picks for the rest of the season.”

McAllister said he is planning on graduating early from Palmer Ridge after first semester and enrolling at Colorado State University second semester. The Bears are back in action next week hosting Grand Junction to open 4A Western League action next Friday night.

Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more coverage go to CHSAANow.com/Jeffco.

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