“Rain, snow, anything that’s wet is Columbine football,” Columbine quarterback Mikey Griebel said. “It fits Columbine perfectly. We’re a run-type offense and let the hoggies do their thing, and that’s what they did tonight.
“I’ve got to give all credit where credit is due, and all the credit is due to the big boys up front.”
Columbine was able to have a stronghold on the time of possession in the game. The Rebels controlled the ball for most of the first quarter and ran over 60 plays in the game. This wasn’t a hurry up offense running upwards of 60 plays. This was a methodical ground and pound for 60 plays that will wear a defense down.
“That’s what we do,” Columbine head coach Andy Lowry said. “We’ve had some 17- and 18-play drives over the course of the last two or three weeks, and that’s just kind of what we do. And that’s what we have to do. We’re not going to get fancy with it, we’re just going to make sure we execute.”
While Columbine’s offense exceled in the wet weather, Fairview’s sputtered.
“We love when it’s cold,” said running back Tim Mullin. “It’s fun to play smash-mouth in the cold and be that tough football team. We stopped their pass pretty well.”
The Rebel defense held the Knights to just 16 yards in the first half. Fairview quarterback Jake Willemsen was 0-for-8 with an interception, and star running back Mariano Kemp had just two carries good for a whopping one yard in that half.
“I think those guys putting pressure on them and our DB’s covering them and our offensive line moving the pile 15 yards down the field, that’s what – I don’t care if you're in the snow or you're in 90-degree weather, it’s pretty nice,” Lowry said.
The interception thrown by Willemsen? Griebel. The same Griebel that finished with 72 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The backfield duo of Mullin and Conner Snow routinely pounded it into the teeth of the Fairview defense behind the big offensive line for Columbine.
Mullin finished with 154 yards and one touchdown.
“I came into this game knowing I had to contribute big time,” Griebel said. “All the guys trusted me, I trust them, and I knew I had to get something done for them and followed up with my promise.”
Fairview had its chances to break out of its offensive slump, but Willemsen missed two open receivers streaking down the sideline. Midway through the second quarter, Fairview’s Quinn Sharp was open on blown coverage, but the throw was underthrown and offline.
Late in the second quarter, Tommy Wakefield was open on the outside, but the deep ball was overthrown.
In the second half, both teams were able to break off large chunks of yards after a first half of slowly chipping away.
Down 17-0, Willemsen and wide receiver David McWilliams hooked up for gains of 12 and 23, then capped the drive off with a tipped pass caught by McWilliams good for a three-yard touchdown to bring the score to 17-8 with 8:03 in the third quarter after a botched snap eventually led to a two-point conversion for the Knights.
On the ensuing kickoff, Fairview recovered an onside kick and the Knights seemed to have life.
“We always say that adversity strikes and let’s see how we handle it,” Griebel said. “Adversity struck tonight with the onside and they scored. I honestly think we handle that very well for a fairly young team and I think that was a pretty proud moment for our team, handling that adversity.”
Two plays later, Kemp fumbled the ball and Columbine recovered.
“That fumble was a big fumble,” Lowry said. “That changed the momentum. We just grinded it down and lived on our offensive line. They gobbled them up.”
Griebel then broke off his own big run of 32 yards to take the air out of Fairview.
“That’s our type of offense. It’s gonna be four-yard play, four-yard play, and then a big one,” Griebel said. “That’s all the linemen doing their job and working them up front.”
The Rebels smelled blood and drove the ball down for a two-yard touchdown run by Griebel to finish the drive off. After a blocked extra point, Columbine led 23-8 with the Knights still in it.
The Rebels stepped up yet again on defense and stopped a fake punt on fourth down with three minutes left in the third quarter.
“We prepared for this passing attack, we haven’t played anyone quite like it,” Mullin said. “I think we had a good week of practice and the way our defense played carried into how our offense did.”
Griebel put the final nail in the coffin with an eight-yard rushing touchdown to put Columbine up 29-8 in the closing moments of the third.
“Our offensive line is getting off the ball now, it’s not just about being big,” Lowry said. “They’re getting off the ball and being really physical. I’m really proud of them.”
Columbine (5-1) went on to win 36-15 in the first league game for the Rebels.
“This was a big week, first league game,” Lowry said. “Our league is probably one of the toughest leagues in the state in terms of top to bottom with this new waterfall. We’ve got some tough opponents in our league, so getting this first one under our belts was a big one.”
Fairview (5-1) dropped its first game of the season. The Knights have yet another test at ThunderRidge on Oct. 14.