Defense, special teams pitch in as Wheat Ridge shuts out rival Golden

Wheat Ridge junior Anthony McGinnis turns up field during the Farmers' 28-point second quarter Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium. The Farmers had four rushing touchdowns and freshmen quarterback Ryen Kahl threw for two more scores in Wheat Ridge's 42-0 victory over Golden. (Dennis Pleuss)

Wheat Ridge junior Anthony McGinnis turns up field during the Farmers' 28-point second quarter Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium. The Farmers had four rushing touchdowns and freshmen quarterback Ryen Kahl threw for two more scores in Wheat Ridge's 42-0 victory over Golden. (Dennis Pleuss)

LAKEWOOD -- A smothering defense and huge special teams play turned out to be the biggest helping hand for Wheat Ridge and its new starting freshmen quarterback.

Wheat Ridge (3-1) gave its homecoming crowd something to cheer about with a 42-0 victory against rival Golden (0-4) on Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium. It was also the first start under center for Ryen Kahl, son of Wheat Ridge head coach Reid Kahl.

“Anybody who know me knows I want to win,” Coach Kahl said about giving his son his first varsity start. “I want what’s best for Wheat Ridge football.”

The Farmers’ defense carried its share of the load, never allowing Golden to get anything going offensively. The Demons didn’t have a first down on offense until their first drive in the second half. However, the game remained scoreless through almost the first quarter.

Wheat Ridge, ranked No. 6 in this week's CHSAANow.com 4A poll, got a much-needed spark to put some points on the scoreboard late in the first quarter. Junior Dakota Koenecke came through with a blocked punt, giving the Farmers the ball on the Demons’ 6-yard-line.

“We came out excited, but at first we were a little flat,” Koenecke said. “Once we had that punt block we came together as a team. We went from there and played good.”

Two plays after the punt block, senior Tanner Weakland scored a 1-yard touchdown to begin a 35-point scoring burst over a span of 11 minutes by the Farmers. When the halftime festivities rolled around, Wheat Ridge had a comfortable 35-0 lead.

Junior Jordan Jones had a pair of two touchdown runs in the second quarter. Weakland crossed the goal line for the second time on the night, and the young quarterback got into the action with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Koenecke.

“Playing as a freshman is pretty hard, but as soon as I threw that first touchdown (nerves) just went away,” Ryen Kahl said. “It was awesome and a great experience.”

Kahl finished the game 4-for-8 passing for 116 yards and two touchdowns. His 59-yard touchdown strike to senior Averee Mason midway through the third quarter was the lone score in the second half as the 40-point running clock rule went into affect.

Coach Kahl believes the move at quarterback will make his offensive more diverse.

“Teams put eight or nine in the box trying to stop our running game,” Coach Kahl said. “This opens up the running game because we’ll be able to stretch the field.”

Golden had some positive plays on offense in the second half by juniors Jake McCormick and Devin Rothrock. Still, the Farmers kept the Demons scoreless.

“Bright spots are hard to find right now,” Golden first-year coach Jason Neely said. “Defensively at times when we do what we are supposed to do we look OK.”

The Demons forced two punts and a turnover on downs on Wheat Ridge’s first three offensive drives before the Farmers got things going.

Golden will attempt to get in the win column when it faces Littleton in the Demons’ homecoming game at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at Campbell Field on the Colorado School of Mines campus in Golden.

Wheat Ridge has a tough test against Montbello (3-0) at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at All-City Stadium in Denver. The Warriors entered the CHSAANow.com football poll at No. 9 this week.

“It will be a tough one,” Koenecke said looking ahead to Montbello. “But I think we’ll come out ready.”

Golden sophomore running back Dvaris Johnson is tackled by a trio of Wheat Ridge defenders that includes Anthony McGinnis, Emilo Herrera and Brandon Saunders on Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium. The Farmers' defense shut out the Demons on the way at a 42-0 victory for No. 6 Wheat Ridge. (Dennis Pleuss)

Golden sophomore running back Dvaris Johnson is tackled by a trio of Wheat Ridge defenders that includes Anthony McGinnis, Emilo Herrera and Brandon Saunders on Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium. The Farmers' defense shut out the Demons on the way at a 42-0 victory for No. 6 Wheat Ridge. (Dennis Pleuss)