LAKEWOOD — Columbine’s defense sure looks ready for the Class 5A football playoffs.
The Rebels defense managed its second consecutive shut out Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium. Columbine, ranked No. 6 in the final CHSAANow.com 5A football poll, blanked ThunderRidge 41-0 in the regular-season finale for both teams.
“Our defense has been great all year. I’m proud of them. They are playing hard and our coaches are doing a great job with them,” Columbine coach Andy Lowry said. “We have to play good defense to go very far in the playoffs, that’s for sure.”
Columbine played incredible defense in the Mt. Cameron League game. The Rebels held ThunderRidge quarterback Vic Lavigne to 67 yards passing and the Grizzlies (4-6, 2-3 in league) only mustered 42 yards rushing on 21 carries.
“We have just been trying hard and switching people around to new positions,” Columbine senior defensive lineman Garrett Gilleland said. “We’ve been hungry. We really want it.”
ThunderRidge never threatened to score. The Grizzlies crossed midfield once on eight offensive drives.
On the other hand, Columbine didn’t waste anytime getting into the end zone. On the Rebels’ first offensive play from scrimmage, junior Ted Mullin went for a 59-yard touchdown run to put Columbine up 7-0 with 7:52 left first quarter.
“He has been amazing this year,” Columbine senior quarterback Mikey Griebel said of Ted Mullin. “He has been our big-play guy. He just did his thing and that is what we need to carry into playoffs.”
Mullin finished with four carries for 75 yards. His older brother, Tim Mullin, was the workhorse with 15 carries for 80 yards. Junior Conner Snow pitched in six carries for 84 yards and Griebel added 58 yards on nine carries.
The rushing touchdowns were evenly distributed with all four primary ball carriers scoring on the night. The Rebels finished with 338 yards on the ground. Columbine scored touchdowns of 6-of-8 offensive drives.
Griebel threw a 22-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter to Snow to make the score 35-0. Backup quarterback Logan DeArment finished out the scoring with a 24-yard touchdown pass to senior Max Vermillion in the fourth quarter to make the final score 41-0.
“A win and hopefully we’re healthy. Those were the two big things we were trying to do,” Lowry said as the Rebels now wait to see where they will be seeded for the 16-team state tournament.
Columbine’s lone in-state blemish was a heartbreaking 28-27 overtime loss at Mullen three weeks ago. The lost cost the Rebels the Mt. Cameron League title and automatic bid to the 16-team state tournament field.
“The Mullen loss really humbled us,” Gilleland said. “It made us realize where we want to be and where we want to go.”
The Rebels (8-2, 4-1) won’t have a problem making the postseason. Columbine sat in the 10th spot in the RPI rankings heading into the final week of the regular season. The seven league champions earn automatic bids and the final nine spots will be filled by the RPI rankings.
“Who know where we’ll end up,” Lowry said. “We just have to go play now.”
ThunderRidge (4-6), 18th in the RPI rankings before Thursday’s game, is on the bubble of being able to qualify for the playoffs after finishing fourth in what was the deepest conference in 5A this season with Mullen, Columbine and Fairview all ranked in the top 10 this week.
All 5A football teams will discover their postseason fate when brackets are released on CHSAANow.com on Sunday.
“We aren’t going to be satisfied,” Griebel said of the Rebels, who have outscored their last three opponents 126-7. “It’s playoff time.”