LAKEWOOD — Playing as fast as possible on offensive is the current trend on the football field. It appears Chatfield’s super-charged offense might just be ahead of the curve when it comes to diversity to go along with speed.
The Chargers' high-octane, no-huddle offense had 74 snaps Thursday night in front of Chatfield’s homecoming crowd at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood. The Chargers downed Jeffco rival Dakota Ridge 42-27 to move to 3-0 this season.
Chatfield moved into the No. 9 slot of the CHSAANow.com Class 5A football poll this week and continued its hot start on the opening drive Thursday night. The Chargers went 80 yards on 13 plays with five different receivers catching balls and four different players carrying the football. Junior quarterback Kyle Winkler capped off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to senior Austin Steinhoff.
“That is definitely what we want to do,” Winkler said, referring to the opening drive. “We have a lot of variety with our offense. All of our receivers are great players. It gives you the self assurance that whoever you throw the ball to they are going to make plays.”
Winkler finished the night 22-for-29 passing for 177 yards and four touchdowns. Senior Brandon Zanier led all Chargers’ receivers with six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
“We knew in the offseason that we had a lot of skill kids,” Chatfield coach Brett McGatlin said. “It makes it fun for the kids, which I always love.”
The Chargers needed their depth to close out the victory in the final quarter. Dakota Ridge (1-2) closed to within 28-21 early in the fourth quarter after Eagles’ quarterback Braxton Thais hooked up with senior Tucker Barr for a 24-yard touchdown. Then senior Aaron Nelson scored from one yard out after a special teams’ miscue set Dakota Ridge up at Chatfield’s 10-yardline.
Chatfield senior running back Brendan Murphy was having a huge game with 21 carries for 171 yards and a touchdown, but left the game in the fourth quarter with an injury. Winkler helped ease the pain of losing Murphy by throwing a 22-yard touchdown to Zanier the play after Murphy was helped off the field.
Dakota Ridge did answer with Nelson’s second touchdown run of the game to make the score 35-27 after a failed 2-point conversion with 5:23 left in the fourth quarter.
Senior Austin Steinhoff had a big 27-yard run on the ensuing drive for Chatfield. Junior Sean O’Dell had a 35-yard reception to put the Chargers on Dakota Ridge’s 6-yard line. O’Dell finished the drive with a 5-yard touchdown catch from Winkler to seal the victory.
“It’s a rivalry game. We can see their school from our school,” McGatlin said. “(Dakota Ridge is) a good football. That’s going to be a really good 4A football team.”
Dakota Ridge coach Ron Woitalewicz called the loss a “moral” victory.
“Very proud of our kids,” Woitalewicz said. “It was 28-7 and a lot of kids would fold up and get blown out. I thought our kids fought and competed all the way to the end.”
The Eagles’ two losses this year have come at the hands of 5A’s top ranked ThunderRidge (2-0) and Chatfield.
“Playing games like this will make us better and tougher when our league (play) rolls around,” Woitalewicz said.
Dakota Ridge has a pair of non-league road games against George Washington and Central of Grand Junction before diving into its 4A Plains League play.
Chatfield faces another 5A Jeffco school in Arvada West next Friday at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada before kicking off its 5A Super 6 conference schedule with Lakewood.