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.”
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.”
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.