No. 2 Columbine football opens with win over Denver East

LAKEWOOD — Columbine football proved it can, and will throw the ball through the air this season.

The Rebels’ passing game actually opened up the running game on opening night Thursday at Jeffco Stadium. Columbine senior quarterback Logan DeArment connected with junior Luke Folsom on a 73-yard touchdown pass on the Rebels’ fifth offensive play from scrimmage.

“We have been working on that play all summer. I think it’s perfect for us,” DeArment said of his first pass of the 2018 season. “We are obviously run first, but once we get an opportunity (to throw) I normally have two guys open. It’s nice it went for a touchdown.”

Columbine senior Nehemiah Nua, left, makes the tackle on Denver East senior Elijah Ewing. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

The long touchdown pass gave Columbine an early lead over Denver East. Columbine, ranked No. 2 in the Class 5A football preseason poll, never looked back in the non-league opener. The Rebels rolled to a 35-3 victory.

The vaunted ground game Columbine coach Andy Lowry has run for more than two decades coaching the Rebels took over after DeArment’s touchdown pass.

“Logan is good at it,” Lowry said of his second-year starting quarterback that threw 26 touchdowns as a junior. “We didn’t throw it many times, but he is pretty effective when he does.”

DeArment didn’t put much stress on his arm. He finished 2-for-2 passing for 92 yards and the touchdown.

“We are still run first,” DeArment said. “I still consider those trick plays.”

Tanner Hollens started his junior campaign just like he finished last season. The second-year starting running back had 14 carries in the opening half with 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His 5-yard touchdown run with 33 seconds left in the first half gave the Rebels a 21-3 lead at halftime.

Denver East junior Jaylin Graham (1) breaks into the open field Thursday against Columbine. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“It was great. We do what we do,” Hollens said. “We run the ball down your throat five yards at a time.”

Lowry said is excited about the talent and depth he has at running back this season.

“Tanner is one of the best backs in the state. He can do a lot of damage,” Lowry said of Hollens who had nearly 1,400 yards rushing in the Rebels’ run to the Class 5A state semifinals last year. “We are probably the deepest at running back as we have ever been. We’ve got about eight guys who can carry the load, but there is only one football.”

A fumble at Denver East’s 10-yard line to open the second half didn’t allow the Rebels an early score in the third quarter. However, Columbine junior Mason Degutis scored on a 17-yard touchdown run with 2:33 left in the third quarter to push the score to 28-3. Senior Tamrat Cunningham wrapped up the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Columbine’s defense settled in after having some issues with Denver East’s offense spreading things out in the first half. The Angels and senior quarterback Myles Patterson guided Denver East inside Columbine’s 10-yard line twice in the first half, but the Angels could only manage a field goal.

Junior Braeden Hogan and senior Cody Ramming both had key sacks on Patterson to keep Denver East on getting into the end zone in the first half.

“We had a lot of Week 1 mistakes. It wasn’t the prettiest game in the world,” Lowry admitted. “Kids got better and we got everyone in to take a look at. I think that’s the important part of it.”

Columbine heads to Florida next week to face University (FL). The Rebels have non-league games against Fountain-Fort Carson, Highlands Ranch and Olathe North (KS) before starting their stretch in the newly formed 5A Metro West League.

All five 5A football programs within Jeffco Public Schools — Arvada West, Columbine, Lakewood, Pomona and Ralston Valley — are in the same conference, along with Mullen. The league is one of the deepest in the state with a pair of semifinals from last season in Columbine and Pomona, along with tradition rich programs in A-West, Lakewood, Ralston Valley and Mullen.

Columbine players congratulate junior Luke Folsom (25) after his 73-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter against Denver East on Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)