ThunderRidge thumps rival Mountain Vista

Grizzlies take third in a row from Highlands Ranch neighbor


Nothing changed when the ThunderRidge and Mountain Vista football teams renewed their rivalry on Sept. 28 at Shea Stadium.

Students and fans arrived early to secure places in the parking lots and many cars were still lined up on Town Center Drive at the start of the game. And ThunderRidge continued its domination of the football series between the neighboring schools.

ThunderRidge, ranked 10th in the Sept. 24 Class 5A poll, rolled to a 49-10 victory over the Golden Eagles before a capacity crowd of 3,500.

It was the third straight win for the Grizzlies over Vista and the 11th win for ThunderRidge in 13 football games against the Golden Eagles. Mountain Vista's two wins in the series came in 2014 and 2015.

“Absolutely it is still a rivalry,” said ThunderRidge coach Doug Nisenson. “I don't know what it is, but when you separate schools by maybe two miles it creates a massive rivalry. A lot of the kids know each other and a lot played youth football together. It is always an enormous game. It's one of those games that you choose to go to ThunderRidge so you can go play Mountain Vista. It's just an unbelievable atmosphere every year.”

ThunderRidge took the suspense out of the game by taking a 35-3 lead at halftime and got the mercy rule, running clock started with 3:57 left in the third quarter when junior quarterback Ryan Gilmore scored on a 2-yard run, which helped swell the Grizzlies' lead to 49-3.

Gilmore accounted for five ThunderRidge touchdowns, three passing and two running.

“He's a special kid,” said Nisenson. “He might be one of the most competitive kids that I've ever coached. He wants the throw the deep ball and he wants to run the ball. He's not afraid to put his shoulder down and run through people.”

Gilmore finished with 326 yards of total offense. He completed 7-of-11 passes 204 yards and three touchdowns passing. He rushed for 122 yards on eight carries for 122 yards and two TDs.

“Coach wanted us to come out strong and we did," he said. "We put some points on the board and it's a lot easier going into half up than it is down.”

Senior running back Spencer Lambert ran for two touchdowns on 19 carries and had 173 yards rushing. His rushing yardage didn't include a 51-yard touchdown run that was nullified by an illegal-procedure penalty. He also caught a pass from Huber that went for 66 yards and set up the Grizzlies fifth first half TD.

ThunderRidge finished with 526 yards of total offense and averaged 26.1 yards per pass completion and 9.9 yards per rush. The defense had four sacks, with Sam Motzkus getting two and he also had three of the team's six hurries. Motzkus and Jordan Cutter each had eight tackles.

One aspect of an otherwise excellent performance for ThunderRidge was penalties. The Grizzlies were whistled for 12 penalties. Vista's scoring drive late in the second quarter that covered 71 yards was aided by 41 penalty yards against ThunderRidge. The drive ended with a 32-yard field goal by Ethan Love.

“Yeah, we have to clean that up,” said Nisenson.

ThunderRidge, coming off a 28-27 loss to Doherty, improved to 5-1 while Mountain Vista, which notched a win over Legacy on Sept. 21, saw its record dip to 1-5.

“We were hoping last week's win against Legacy would jump-start us, but obviously we have a lot more work to do,” said Vista coach Ric Cash. “(ThunderRidge) did a good job of coming out and playing fast and we didn't match that early on and before long you feel like you are fighting uphill for everything.. Hats off to them. They played a good, hard football game and we didn't respond as well as we needed to.”


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