LAKEWOOD — Lakewood seniors Pierce Holley and Kegan Hufford provided a potent 1-2 punch for the Tigers on Friday night at Jeffco Stadium.
Two of the Tigers’ key returners from last season helped Lakewood claw out a 38-13 victory against former league rival Bear Creek in the Week 1 football opener for both teams.
“I’ve been preaching since the summer that I had 33 seniors last year and people are going to say it’s a rebuilding year and we aren’t going to be very good,” Lakewood coach Jeff Braun said. “The kids really took that to heart and we are going to ride that as long as we can.”
Holley passed for two touchdowns and had another pair of short touchdown runs to lead the Tigers’ offense. The senior quarterback shared snaps behind center with Ezekiel Sundberg last season.
“It’s definitely a change-up,” Holley said of playing quarterback full-time. “I’ll do whatever I can to help my team win.”
Holley opened the second half with an 8-yard touchdown pass to senior Elias Borjas to give Lakewood (1-0 record) a commanding 31-7 lead. Holley’s first touchdown pass came on a broken play where he scrambled away from pressure before hitting a diving junior Charlie Ross in the end zone to put the Tigers up 14-0 late in the first quarter.
“Everything went to heck. Pierce was able to scramble around to make a play,” Ross said. “I think that is one of our strengths they year. We can improvise on the fly when things go wrong.”
Both of the Tigers’ first scores came off Bear Creek turnovers. Borjas intercepted Bear Creek senior quarterback Isaiah Romero to set up Lakewood’s first score. Lakewood senior Lin Kim recovered a fumble by Romero on the next offensive drive for Bear Creek to set up the Tigers’ next score.
Hufford — two-way player and also one of the top lacrosse players in the state — was all over the field as he has been for a couple of years for the Tigers. The senior opened the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
“He (Hufford) does everything on the field,” Holley said. “We’ll keep him rolling him through the season.”
Hufford added a 40-yard field goal in the second quarter to respond after Bear Creek got on the scoreboard with a 2-yard touchdown run by senior George Martinez.
“I just want to get in the best shape I can be, stay healthy and go play lacrosse in the spring,” said Hufford who will likely play on nearly every snap for the Tigers this season.
Bear Creek was able to put in a late touchdown with a 50-yard run by junior Eric Johnson in the final minute to take a little momentum heading into another difficult non-league game next week. Bear Creek faces the defending Class 5A state champions Pomona (1-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada. The Panthers defeated Oak Ridge (FL) by a score of 32-14 last night in Orlando.
Once Bear Creek gets into conference play things will be different. A drop in enrollment at the school moved the Bears into 4A. The new two-year conference alignment has Bear Creek in the 4A Jeffco League that consists of the Bears, Chatfield, Dakota Ridge, Golden, Grand Junction and Wheat Ridge.
Lakewood is back at Jeffco Stadium next week on Thursday to host ThunderRidge. The Tigers play in the deep and talented 5A Metro West League — Arvada West, Columbine, Lakewood, Mullen, Pomona and Ralston Valley — which could be the toughest conference in the state.
“We’ve got to get through preseason (non-league) first,” Braun said. “We’ve got to stay healthy because we aren’t real deep, but we’ve got some key components that are better this year then last year.”
All six teams in the 5A Metro West qualified for the 16-team 5A state tournament last season. The new playoff format has extended the field to 24 teams in 5A for the next two-year cycle in 5A.
“It’s going to be a tough league, but we look forward to the challenge,” Holley said.