Big rushing attack leads No. 3 Chatfield football past Palmer

Chatfield junior Cameron Manzanares returns an interception for a touchdown Friday against Palmer. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Chatfield junior Cameron Manzanares returns an interception for a touchdown Friday against Palmer. More photos. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

LAKEWOOD — Chatfield’s rushing attack was simply unstoppable Friday at Jeffco Stadium.

The Chargers racked up 279 yards on the ground on 34 carries — in the first half — against Palmer. Senior Dalton Keene (13 carries for 132 yards) and junior Ben Frenette (nine carries for 89 yards) each ran for a pair of scores in the first half as the No. 3 ranked team in the Class 4A football CHSAANow.com poll took a 40-0 lead at halftime.

The final score was 53-7 in favor of the Chargers (2-0).

“It definitely brings a whole new speed to it,” Keene said. “It let’s you slow down and relax sometimes. It’s definitely a lot different then our high-tempo spread offense.”

Chatfield went old school with its rushing attack, bringing back formations that Green Mountain teams coached by Don McGatlin in the 1990s. Chatfield coach Bret McGatlin, Don’s son, decided to go to the old Rams’ rushing style to honor his father. Don, an assistant coach for the Chargers, lost his mountain cabin because of a fire on Monday. The cabin hosted numerous football camps over the years.

“We did it for him (Don McGatlin) because it was a tough week,” Bret McGatlin said.

Chatfield senior Dalton Keene hurdles Palmer senior Adonis Rufran on Friday at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Chatfield senior Dalton Keene hurdles Palmer senior Adonis Rufran on Friday at Jeffco Stadium. More photos. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

The game-plan was clear from the start of the non-league game. Chatfield ran the ball on its first 21 offensive plays from scrimmage. Junior quarterback Colton Arne put the ball into the air just six times in the first half, but did have a 31-yard completion to senior Andrew Mangold during the Chargers’ 33-point second quarter.

Chatfield junior linebacker Cameron Manzanares had the defensive highlight in the first half with an interception that he returned 20 yards for a defensive touchdown. Palmer (0-2) was held to just a pair first downs in the opening half.

“It was solid effort from everybody,” Manzanares said. “Everyone was doing their job. We got the job done.”

With a running clock for the entire second half, Chatfield added on to its lead with a 9-yard touchdown run by senior Logan Dannenhauer and yet another defensive touchdown when junior Josh Cronin recovered a fumble and returned it 11 yards for the score in the third quarter.

“We have a solid defense. We just made some big mistakes last week,” Bret McGatlin said about last week when the Chargers allowed nearly 500 yards of total offense against Pine Creek. “It was a lot different today.”

Palmer prevented the shutout with a 60-yard touchdown run by senior Daniel Martinez in the fourth quarter to make the score 53-7 with seven minutes to play.

Chatfield rocketed up the 4A state football poll after an impressive 50-39 road victory against perennial 4A powerhouse Pine Creek. The Chargers went from unranked in the preseason poll to No. 3 this week.

“We said when we came to 4A that we wanted to match-up with the best,” Bret McGatlin said. “We are excited, but it is a long, long way to go.”

The schedule gets a little more intense the next two weeks for Chatfield. The Chargers face Wheat Ridge in a battle between two Jeffco schools at 5 p.m. Sept. 15 at Jeffco Stadium. That game will be broadcasted live on Altitude.

Looming after that is the annual showdown against rival Columbine (ranked No. 5 in the 5A poll) on Sept. 22 at Jeffco Stadium.

“We need to stay humble. We can’t take it easy,” Keene said. “We have a tough schedule ahead of us.”

Chatfield junior Ben Frenette runs for a 40-yard touchdown during the Chargers' 53-7 win over Palmer on Friday. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Chatfield junior Ben Frenette runs for a 40-yard touchdown during the Chargers' 53-7 win over Palmer on Friday. More photos. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)