Wingard leads the way in Ralston Valley football's win over Arapahoe

Ralston Valley junior Andrew Wingard cuts upfield during the Mustangs' 58-28 first-round Class 5A victory against Arapahoe on Friday at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada. Wingard rushed for 268 yards and three touchdowns in the win. (Dennis Pleuss)

Ralston Valley junior Andrew Wingard cuts upfield during the Mustangs' 58-28 first-round Class 5A victory against Arapahoe on Friday at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada. Wingard rushed for 268 yards and three touchdowns in the win. (Dennis Pleuss)

ARVADA — It was a bit of a spooky start to the Class 5A football postseason for Ralston Valley running back Andrew Wingard.

The day after Halloween, the Mustangs’ junior fumbled on his first carry Friday at the North Area Athletic Complex against No. 18-seeded Arapahoe in the first-round playoff game. Wingard would lose another fumble, but besides putting the ball on the ground twice Wingard was spectacular for No. 15-seed Ralston Valley (7-3) in the Mustangs’ 58-28 victory.

Wingard finished with 20 carries for 268 yards and a trio of touchdowns on the ground. Still, the junior first mentioned his miscues after the win.

“That’s not happening again. I haven’t fumbled all season. I don’t know what got into me. No excuses," Wingard said. “Thankfully, we came out with the W.”

Ralston Valley senior quarterback Jacob Knipp drops back to pass as Arapahoe senior Spencer Elliot applies some pressure Friday at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada. The Mustangs scored a 58-28 home victory to advance to the second round. (Dennis Pleuss)

Ralston Valley senior quarterback Jacob Knipp drops back to pass as Arapahoe senior Spencer Elliot applies some pressure Friday at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada. The Mustangs scored a 58-28 home victory to advance to the second round. (Dennis Pleuss)

Wingard missed sometime this season due to injury, but clearly is back to top form after his best game of the season.

“(Wingard) is doing a lot of good things for our team right now. We are going to keep giving him the ball,” said Ralston Valley senior quarterback Jacob Knipp, who had 98 yards passing, including a 29-yard touchdown strike to senior John Morales.

Ralston Valley sophomore Kyle Rush also found his way into the end zone three times for Ralston Valley. Rush finished with 59 yards on the ground on eight carries. The Mustangs piled up 402 yards on the ground.

The Mustangs even had a special teams touchdown when senior Mitchell Robinson blocked a punt and senior teammate Jon Baumann recovered the ball in the end zone.

“I’m happy with what we did offensively, defensively and on special teams,” Ralston Valley coach Matt Loyd said. “If we clean up the mistakes I’ll be really happy.”

Arapahoe senior Ethan Brunhofer had a huge game with 11 catches for 144 yards and a touchdowns in the Warriors' 58-28 loss to Ralston Valley on Friday. (Dennis Pleuss)

Arapahoe senior Ethan Brunhofer had a huge game with 11 catches for 144 yards and a touchdowns in the Warriors' 58-28 loss to Ralston Valley on Friday. (Dennis Pleuss)

The victory sets up a second-round date with defending 5A state champion and No. 2 seed Valor Christian. The Eagles scored a 63-22 victory over Eaglecrest on Friday night.

“We are well aware of what we are going up against,” Loyd said of facing Valor, which has won four straight state football titles in various classifications since 2009.

Arapahoe closed out the season with a 6-4 record. The Warriors had a quality win against eventual Super 6 League champion Columbine earlier in their conference schedule, but dropped league games against Lakewood and Chatfield before entering the playoffs.

Senior quarterback Gabe Peterson finished 19-for-30 passing for 239 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Peterson’s favorite target Ethan Brunhofer had a monster game. The senior hauled in 11 passing for 144 yards. His final catch was a 7-yard touchdown.

Ralston Valley sophomore Kyle Rush, right, attempts to break the tackle by Arapahoe senior Kyle Foss on Friday in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs. (Dennis Pleuss)

Ralston Valley sophomore Kyle Rush, right, attempts to break the tackle by Arapahoe senior Kyle Foss on Friday in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs. (Dennis Pleuss)