ARVADA — It might seem like an eternity since Golden football played in the Class 4A state championship game in 2002.
In fact, the starting quarterback for the Demons 15 years ago was Mark Melancon. Golden’s three-sport athlete has pitched for six Major League Baseball teams (New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants) and been named to three MLB All-Star Games since Golden was edged by Monarch in the 2002 4A title game.
It has been a struggle for the football program at Golden over the past several years. The last winning season for the team was in 2009.
First-year coach Jared Yannacito, a Pomona High School graduate and former offensive coordinator for the Panthers, hopes to turn the Demons’ football program around from the ground up.
“The thing as coaches we are building is just a family, building a team again,” Yannacito said after the Demons’ season opener Thursday night. “Our big motto has been ‘Close the gap’. I think fans saw it and coaches saw it. The kids played as hard as they could. I’m really proud of them.”
Yannacito and his Demons officially kicked off the new era of Golden football against Skyline at the North Area Athletic Complex. The Falcons shut out the Demons 41-0 a year ago in the season opener. It was the beginning of a 1-9 season for Golden.
It was a much different story this time around. The Demons actually led 13-12 at halftime. Golden kept it going in the third quarter too.
Senior Joe Madsen caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback David O’Connell with 2:08 left in the third quarter to give the Demons a 27-20 lead.
“I’m still in shock. I think it’s awesome that we were tied up with a team that beat us by almost 50 points last year,” said Madsen, who eight catches for 62 yards and was also an impact player on defense. “We were in contention to win it. This team is on the rise and I’m really proud to be a part of it.”
While Golden had the feel-good story going through late in the third quarter. The Falcons showed they had the resilience to grab the momentum and game away from the Demons.
Skyline scored four unanswered touchdowns from late in the third quarter until the final whistle to come away with a 48-27 victory.
“I’ve been part of a new coaching staff. I understand the fire and excitement,” said Skyline junior running back Jeremy Hollingsworth, who finished with 12 carries for 91 yards and four touchdowns. “Golden played a great game, but I think we helped them out in the first half for sure.”
Skyline junior quarterback Nate McGregor had an impressive game going 12-for-16 through the air for 225 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also rushed for 69 yards. Junior Kyle West was McGregor’s favorite target making nine grabs for 172 yards and a touchdown.
“The offense that we run. What can you do to stop it? Pick your poison,” Hollingsworth said. “We are going to do it until teams stop us.”
West did his part on defense to seal the win. His interception and 50-yard scamper into the end zone for a defensive score in the final minutes of the fourth quarter finished off the flurry of points by the Falcons.
“They (Hollingsworth, McGregor and West) let us bring an exciting brand of football,” Skyline coach Michael Silva said. “If you play with energy and focus on all levels it’s fun to watch.”
Silva admitted his players probably overlooked the Demons after the shutout win a year ago, but he was proud of how is team responded in the second half to pull out the victory. Skyline stays on the road as the Falcons face Coronado next Thursday at Don Breese Stadium in Colorado Springs.
“Skyline is a heck of a football team,” Yannacito said. “They have some skill guys who can go the distance on any given play.”
Golden hits the road next week to face Littleton on Thursday, Sept. 7.
“Everyone tonight realizes — even if we didn’t come out with a victory — that the culture has changed,” Yannacito said. “It’s a new era. We have to let this soak in a little bit and get ready for Littleton next week.”