Fairview's Aidan Atkinson, a junior, had one of the best football games a quarterback in Colorado has ever had on Thursday night.
Atkinson threw for 687 yards and nine touchdowns in a 67-33 win over Legacy. Both figures set 11-man football state records, and both rank second all-time across all classes of the sport.
"The state records are cool and all but that's not why we play," Atkinson told BoCoPreps.com after the game. "We play to win a state championship. This was a great game. Me and my receivers, we work so hard and we practice so hard with our timing and throwing the ball. Coming out here and being able to show everybody that and put up some big numbers, it was great to show everybody what we're all about."
Fairview's staff reviewed film overnight and confirmed Atkinson's yardage total as 687 yards, according to coach Tom McCartney. He completed 32-of-50 passes.
"We definitely felt like he was being efficient," said McCartney, now in his 26th season as the Knights' coach. "We have an identity, so we know we like to throw it. If we miss the mark once or twice in a series, we are still OK, we have some more downs."
McCartney said he and his staff were roughly aware of Atkinson's yardage totals during the game — thanks to the Tweeting efforts of BoCoPreps.com reporter Brad Cochi.
"A little bit toward the end, it just seemed like people were 'in the know,'" McCartney said. "Because of Cochi's tweets, there were some people that knew that it was getting close" to the record.
But it wasn't until the game ended that McCartney actually got to reflect on what had happened. After all, Legacy had made it a one-score game in the third quarter.
"When they started the third quarter and got two scores there, and so it's 33-26 — you're not really thinking about anything that's happening with offense," McCartney said. "You're trying to figure out, 'How are we going to win this game?' Until it said 0:00 at the end, you're not really just enjoying the show that maybe some other people might of."
Nationally, Atkinson's 687 yards are the sixth-most of any 11-man quarterback in history.
Additionally, for Atkinson:
- He has thrown 14 touchdown passes in the past two games, and 20 over the past three. Both figures are the second-most in history, and the most of any 11-man quarterback.
- His 675 yards of total offense is the fourth-best performance in history.
- He completed 20 passes in the first half, which is tied for the third-most in history.
- His 2,471 yards are the most of any quarterback in the country at this point, according to MaxPreps. He is averaging 411.8 yards per game, which is the third-most.
- His 32 touchdowns are also the most in the country.
- He threw for 425 yards in the first half, according to BoCoPreps.com. That sets a state record.
The two teams also combined for 1,327 yards of total offense, which is the sixth-most of any game.
McCartney said that one thing that has really stood out to him about Atkinson is that since a three-interception game against Evans (Fla.) on Aug. 30, Atkinson hasn't turned the ball over. That spans 170 pass attempts in the past four games.
"And several times, we've thrown the ball 50 times," McCartney said. "He has been taking very, very good care of the ball as we're still putting it up a lot."
Something else: Four of Atkinson's receivers on Thursday night had more than 140 yards, including Matt Greenwald, who hauled in 11 passes for 238 yards.
"The balance there, to me, was incredible, that it was spread out," McCartney said. "Sometimes, you see maybe two receivers go over 100 yards, but we had all four and a guy over 200."
For Atkinson, the season passing yardage list remains within his grasp. Former Fairview QB Thomas Creese sits No. 18 with 3,158 yards in 2015. The school record was set by Johnny Feauto in his 2014 season at 3,953 yards. That number is third-best all-time.
Atkinson himself threw for 3,405 yards last season, which ranks 11th in state history.
In fact, Fairview has four of their part five quarterbacks who sit in the top-18 in terms of passing yardage.
"We've been fortunate. Whether we're talking Craig Ochs in the 1990s, Taylor Tharp — recently we've had Johnny and Anders and Thomas Creese, Jake Willemsen," McCartney said. "We definitely have had some guys, so as a coach, it's been great. You want to feel like if you have a system, people can run it and execute it and have fun with it. And so it's kinda fun to be able to throw it."
Atkinson has offers from Colorado, Colorado State, Northwestern, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Boise State, Nevada and Akron.
"Recruiting has kind of changed over the 20 years, since say, Craig Ochs was being recruited," McCartney said. "But nobody that we've ever had has had the attention that he's had at such a young age."
Former Bear Creek quarterback Justin Holland has the state record for yards in a season at 4,181, set in 1998.
The season passing touchdown list is also in Atkinson's sights. He needs just five more touchdown passes to break into the top 17. Feauto holds the Fairview record with 40 TD passes in a season.
Former Alamosa quarterback Clay Garcia holds the state record with 52.