Rampart tops Vista Ridge for first league football title in 15 years

Vista Ridge Rampart football

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

COLORADO SPRINGS — The last time Rampart won a league championship in football, the Chicago Cubs had yet to go a full century without a World Series win.

Since one of those droughts ended earlier this week, the Rams decided they wanted to get in on the fun. And they did just that in a tough, physical game that saw them beat Vista Ridge 20-10 and claim the Class 4A Pikes Peak title.

Rampart last won a league title in 2001.

"They knew what they had to do," Rampart coach Rob Royer said of his players. "We talked all year about playing four quarters."

And that's what they did, even if they only scored in two of them.

Coming into the game, the Rams (8-2 overall, 5-0 Pikes Peak) were determined to control the clock and be successful in the run game.

It looked like they were more than happy to do that on the opening drive as they marched right down the field and Joey Williams was able to punch it in the end zone to give Rampart an early 7-0.

“That's what we do,” Royer said. "We knew we were going to follow our big boys."

The Wolves (6-4, 4-1) were having moderate success themselves on the ground, but the heart of the offense has always been the air attack. Dylan Schindele reminded the home fans of that with a 40-yard strike to Marquez Trunnell to tie the game. Vista Ridge briefly took the lead in the second quarter when Fernando Diaz Gomez connected on a 21-yard field goal attempt to make it a 10-7 game.

But the Rams wasted no time in regaining the lead as they drove down to the one-yard line and before Jackson Beale took a sweep to the left side and barreled into the end zone. The Wolves went right back to work on offense with Schindele continuing to the air the ball out.

But Williams just needed to get the better of him just once. He picked off Schindele in the back of the end zone with under a minute remaining, putting the ball back in the offense's hand.

"I forget who else was on that side," Williams said. "We had it locked down, I was just lucky enough to come over and make the play. Our d-line pressured him and he just had to throw the ball up and we got it."

And then Keion Cross came in like a wrecking ball.

Vista Ridge Rampart football

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

He broke a 69-yard touchdown run, leaving 8.8 seconds remaining on the clock in the second half. Momentum was squarely in Rampart’s favor.

“Coach just called the right play and put us in the right position,” Cross said. "We just executed."

With a two score lead and a guaranteed playoff berth in its sight, Rampart turned to the defense in the second half to limit an offense that had averaged over 32 points per game.

And they did just last. After taking a 10-7 lead, the Wolves failed to score again.

"Our defensive staff and defensive kids stood tall and held a high-powered offense to 10 points," Royer said. "That was big for us."

Vista Ridge did not go without its chances in the second half. Schindele was able to find a wide-open Trunnell, but the standout receiver let it slip through his hand. The catch almost certainly would've led to a touchdown, which would've cut the Rampart lead to at least four.

"Too many missed opportunities," Wolves coach Jerimi Calip said. "The shots we took, we didn't capitalize when we needed to and sometimes that happens."

While Vista Ridge must await the final RPI standings to be released Sunday morning, the Rams already know they'll be playing next week. They sat at No. 12 in this week's ratings, so assuming they stay around that spot, they should host a first-round game.

But that's for later.

Friday night, they wanted to enjoy all they had accomplished.

"Coach always says to enjoy the victory for 24 hours," Williams said. "Then it's on to playoff. I"ll enjoy it for a bit, but we're ready for playoffs."