BRUSH — Brush two-way senior lineman Joe Carwin and his teammates simply refused to be denied the Class 2A football state championship on their home field Saturday against Kent Denver.
Brush’s defense capped off a perfect 13-0 season by beating the previously undefeated Sun Devils (12-1), 14-6, for the crown.
On second down and 11 at the Brush 41 yard-line, Kent had 2:14 seconds left on the clock. Down 14-6, all-everything running back Jaden Franklin and his Sun Devil teammates, were looking for a possible tie. Carwin, a ferocious 6-foot, 248-pound lineman burst through and slammed Kent quarterback Zander Ellis to the ground.
Carwin, the fiery leader of a defensive line that bludgeoned Kent all afternoon, stepped up when his teammates needed him the most.
“It was an intense moment,” Carwin said of the sack. “I knew I had to get a stop. Jaden Franklin is the best running back we’ve ever seen. I knew they weren’t going to give it to me. They were going to pass and I had to do what I had to do. My team calls me 'Beast Mode,' and when it’s crunch time that’s what I have to do.”
The sack set up a third and 19 for the Sun Devils at the Brush 49. Next play, incomplete pass to Jack Ammons near the chains.
Next play, another incomplete pass to tight end Joe Rassenfoss that would’ve given Kent a first down, but a pass interference call set up fourth down and 4 with just under two minutes to play. Ellis found running back Wyllis McKissick for a short screen that went for four yards. The refs were called for a measurement. In a game decided by mere inches, Kent was one inch short on fourth down.
Brush took over. A third down conversion on a gutsy run by senior quarterback/running back Kyle Rosenbrock with 1:06 to play gave Brush its first state championship in football since 1994. The championship is the school’s fifth overall in football.
Appearing in their 12th state title game, Brush played inspired, championship-level defense in front of a raucous home crowd.
Going against the highest scoring offense in 2A at 49.3 points per game, and a running back in Franklin who entered Saturday fifth in rushing yards in Colorado history with 6,566 and fifth in touchdowns with 107, the Beetdiggers stuffed Kent time and again.
But on Kent’s first possession, Franklin found a seam and took it 65 yards for a touchdown on a gorgeous run that displayed all his vision and home-run speed. A 15-yard touchdown pass from Rosenbrock to tight end Clay Shaver had given Brush the 7-0 lead after the Beetdiggers’ first possession, but Franklin’s long touchdown run made it 7-6. Kent missed the extra point.
“Other than that one play, I think we did a pretty dang good job stopping their run and their pass,” Rosenbrock, also a linebacker for Brush, said of Franklin’s touchdown burst. “They’re not just a one-dimensional team. Jaden is an absolutely amazing player, but they also have a good quarterback that can throw the ball. To stop that and the run game, that was huge.”
Both teams scored on their opening possessions. After that, it was all “Beast Mode” Carwin and company dominating the trenches.
“That’s what we preached all year. Defense wins games,” Carwin said. “Defense meant the world to us and that’s what we’ve focused on. We put the best players we had on defense and that’s how we got the job done.”
Getting the job done as in holding Franklin, who entered the game with 1,835 rushing yards and 35 rushing touchdowns, to a tough 132 yards on 20 carries. He had 86 of them on his first three carries, but every yard was a fight after that.
“Joe Carwin and Jose Rodriquez have to play both sides of the ball,” Brush coach Randy Dreitz said of his two star lineman. “They just did a tremendous job. They really plugged things up, up the middle. I’m super proud of all those lineman. They don’t get recognition a lot of times, but I’m super proud of them and their effort. I’ve told them all along that we don’t go anywhere without a good line and they did a great job today.”
Carwin also had an interception in the first quarter on a play in which Kent quarterback Ellis lost grip of the ball and it went straight up in the air into the arms of the bruising senior.
Despite such a dominant defensive front, Kent had two golden opportunities to tie the game up late in the third quarter and early in the fourth. Kent drove down inside the 5-yard line late in the third only to get stopped four times in a row. But, after the Sun Devils turned it over on downs, Brush gave it right back to them on a fumble by Rosenbrock. Kent Denver got the ball back at the 2-yard line.
Once again, the Beetdiggers stuffed them four times in a row. An incredible back-to-back goal line stands emphasized the dominance of the Brush defense throughout the game and throughout the playoffs as the Beetdiggers only gave up 27 points total in four playoff games.
On offense, Rosenbrock ran for 112 yards on 20 carries, a critical 88 of the yards in the second half alone. Rosenbrock’s 31 yard touchdown run with 5:56 to play in the third quarter gave Brush a little breathing room. He also threw for 108 yards and a touchdown.
Dreitz, a long-time assistant at Brush before becoming the head coach 13 years ago, earned his first state championship as head man.
“I feel like I had a big monkey on my back for a lot of years,” said Dreitz, whose team lost in the championship game to Olathe 14-13 in 2010. “I could never do it as a head coach. I think I finally got that monkey off my back.”
“Coach Dreitz has been with us since we were little kids,” Carwin said. “This means the world to him, this means the world to us, and we earned it.”