BOULDER — In 2013, Fairview quarterback Anders Hill torched the state to the tune of 3,878 passing yards, 36 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions. The senior led the Knights to a 12-1 season and a 5A state-runner up finish behind national power Valor Christian.
Hill, who threw for the fourth-most yards in a single season in Colorado history in 2013, is a freshman quarterback for Columbia University. So heading into 2014, the Knights had to replace one of the most illustrious quarterbacks ever this year.
Enter Johnny Feauto, or as Fairview’s student section likes to call him, “Johnny Football.” Colorado’s high school version of the Heisman Trophy winner made dazzling play after dazzling play in leading No. 5 ranked Fairview to a 44-28 win over No. 9 Rocky Mountain Thursday night at Recht Field in Boulder. The win improved the Knights (6-0, 4-0 Font Range League) sole possession of first place in their league.
Feauto — who finished 35-of-51 passing for 390 yards and two touchdowns — and his many playmakers went up and down the field early and often. Fairview’s signal caller, who throws a pretty ball, displayed a phenomenal arm on a 65-yard pass that just missed the outstretched hands of Tim Ryan. He wowed the crowd with several elusive scrambles before hitting an open receiver down the field and ran for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Early on, though, Fairview wasn’t able to take advantage of its great drives with only 17 first-half points, despite 275 passing yards already by the senior.
“We weren’t able to capitalize when we got on the 20 or inside and that killed us,” Feauto said of the opening half. “We have to be better at that later in the season and I think we will be. They did a great job to get pressure on us and force us to kick some field goals. They did a really good job early in the first half of not letting us get in the end zone.”
Rocky Mountain (5-1, 3-1) hung in the game, only down 17-14 at halftime thanks to some timely throws from sophomore quarterback Tyler Hyland and the ground attack of the Lobos’ thunder (Joshua Rhead) and lightning (Cade Hairgrove).
To start the second half, Rocky looked poised for a possible road upset with a 15-yard touchdown run by Hairgrove on their opening possession. Hairgrove finished with 99 rushing yards on 16 carries. The score was set up by a 47-yard pass to wideout Riley Neal, a dynamic speedster on the outside, which carried the Lobos to the Fairview 19-yard-line.
Hairgrove did the rest and Rocky took its first and only lead of the game, 21-17, six minutes into the third quarter.
The visiting Lobos then forced a punt and got the ball back riding a wave of momentum. But a fumble in their own territory, one of four lost fumbles and five total turnovers in the game, gave the high-powered Fairview offense the ball back. They took advantage with a two-yard touchdown plunge by touted lineman Carlo Kemp, his second short touchdown run of the evening in their William “Fridge” Perry type set.
Fairview never looked back with three fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a one-yard touchdown run by Feauto, to seize command of the Front Range League.
“It feels really good, especially with how hard they played,” Feauto said of the win. “(Rocky Mountain) did unbelievable. They came out and they wanted it, but we wanted it more and our defense was able to get the ball back six times and we weren’t able to capitalize every time, but we did when it mattered. That’s all that counts.”
Feauto, who filled in for an injured Hill six games during his sophomore year, moved to cornerback as a junior. He’s now back in his comfort zone.
“Last year, not playing quarterback, it was new for me because I’ve always been there and it was kind of nice to get the load off me for a season," Feauto said, "but I was just really excited for this season. I love being behind center and I’m comfortable back there.”
It’s safe to say Feauto’s teammate, fellow senior Tim Ryan, is very comfortable playing pitch and catch with the dynamic signal-caller.
“Our freshman year we were both on JV and we just had that connection,” Feauto said of he and his favorite target. “We had grown up playing together. What I want him to do, he does it. We just have a really good connection and he just keeps running amazing routes and going up and getting the ball.”
Ryan, the new number one option a year after Miami (Ohio) recruit Sam Martin had a state-record 112 catches for 1,860 yards and 16 touchdowns, did his best Martin impersonation Thursday with nine first half catches for 174 yards and a touchdown. He finished the game with 13 receptions for 194 yards and was a home run threat throughout.
Rocky Mountain entered the game giving up a mere nine points per contest, but Fairview racked up over 500 yards of offense. The Knights, known for their passing game, had slippery senior running back Jason Harvey add to the fun with 97 rushing yards on 17 carries. He also chipped in eight catches for 68 yards, including a 27 yard screen pass that he blistered to the end zone.
Feauto says Fairview’s offense is more versatile than people think.
“We’re a passing team per say, but if you come out and all you do is try and take the pass away from us, we’re going to put up three hundred rushing yards,” Feauto noted. “It’s just pick your poison with us. I don’t know how teams are going to be able to play us. They did a great job of doing it for three quarters, but we finally were able to get past them. We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.”