COLORADO SPRINGS - Back to basics. That was the theme for the Doherty Spartans in their 20-17 win over Highlands Ranch Saturday afternoon. At least, until coach Jeff Krumlauf pulled a rabbit out his had just when it was needed.
"Wildcat. Shake and bake." That was the call. Doherty running back TeQuan Baker lined up as the quarterback and took the snap, sweeping left. He tossed the ball to quarterback Zander Offutt who looked down the field and saw Dillon Keily streaking down the seam, with no defender in sight. The 76-yard touchdown pass completely changed the momentum of the game, giving the Spartans (2-1 overall) a much needed win.
"The only thought that came to my mind is that we have to score," Offutt said. "I was pretty confident we were going to score on that play."
Following a 7-6 loss to Arapahoe last week, Krumlauf brought his team out with a very different look in both pre-game preparation and his overall game plan.
"Our whole culture is 'we before me,'" Krumlauf said. "We looked at it as an opportunity to warmup at the place that we practice and have a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Have a moment where it was just us."
Rather than assembling at Garry Berry Stadium, the Spartans warmed up at Doherty High School about 10 minutes away, then were bused over in full uniform. Offensive lineman Matt Steele served as the only player captain for the Spartans as he was flanked by Doherty's assistant principals at the coin toss.
And lastly, starting quarterback Sergio Gordillo didn't see the field to start the game. And the message appeared to get through. On the first play from scrimmage, the Falcons (1-2) fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Marcus Hurtado for Doherty.
The very next snap, running back Cameron Crowe took the handoff from new starting quarterback Zander Offutt and bolted 39 yards for the touchdown run, giving the Spartans a quick 7-0 lead. But the offense had trouble moving the ball after that and using an option attack, the Falcons were able to get down the field and tie the game on a 10-yard touchdown run from Nathan Hamby.
"Honestly, I thought we came out a little flat," Krumlauf said. "Sometimes you have a slow start, but if you finish strong, that's all that matters."
The Falcons added a field goal near the end of the second quarter to take a 10-7 halftime lead. They came out in the second half once again determined to run the ball and fullback Daniel McGettigan was able to find the end zone from five yards out to give Highlands Ranch a 17-7 advantage.
After getting the ball back, the Falcons once again drove into Spartan territory and tried to mix some passes into their offensive attack. Spartans defensive back Donte Wiggins made an outstanding athletic play to pick off a Hamby pass, just when Doherty was up against the ropes. Knowing his team needed a score, Krumlauf sent into the wildcat play, sending Garry Berry Stadium into a frenzy.
"We needed a spark," Krumlauf said. "After Donte Wiggins got that interception, it was time to take a shot. And it worked."
Defensively, the Spartans became stronger and offensively, they stuck with the wildcat, which helped Baker find the zone on the next series to give Doherty a 20-17 edge.
"They made some good plays," Falcons coach Mark Robinson said. "It didn't feel like they made great adjustments, they just came out and outplayed us in the second half."
Baker powered the Spartans' offense with 202 yards on the ground to go with his game-winning touchdown run.
"(Defensive coordinator) Richardson put our defenders in the best position that he could," Baker said. "Their job was stop the offense so we could take care of what we had to do and sometimes we didn't execute, but we came back trying to better ourselves and score."
Better themselves they did. The Spartans felt that the team played selfishly against Arapahoe, which was a major factor in the loss. They wouldn't have any of that on Saturday. It was an adjustment to team from self. They got back to "we" before "me."