COLORADO SPRINGS — There was no need to wait a week to get Colorado Springs Christian School into a playoff football mindset. The Lions ran into Week 10 looking to win big games with big implications. And in a big way.
CSCS cruised to a 31-0 over Florence to win the Class 1A Tri-Peaks championship. Although the 1A No. 6 Lions (8-1 overall, 4-0 1A Tri-Peaks) were sitting well inside the top 16 in the RPI, the win locks up a playoff berth.
No. 5 Florence entered the game at No. 5 in the RPI and should be a playoff team as well. But the two teams now enter the 1A state tournament with very different mindsets. With a decisive win in-hand, the Lions look the part of a team hitting its peak at the right time.
“We worked hard all week to prepare for this game," running back Peyton Brones said." We’re going to take this momentum and keep it going and win in the playoffs.”
Brones got the Lions on the board late in the first quarter, breaking a 23-yard touchdown run. The extra point sailed wide, so the early lead was only 6-0.
The Huskies (7-2, 3-1) were hammered with missed opportunities early in the game. On the drive where Brones ended up scoring, Blaze Smith jumped a pass from CSCS quarterback Caleb Stockton, but he couldn't haul in the interception that likely would have gone for a touchdown. A deep pass from Joshua Martinez slipped through the fingers Bijah Cornell to keep a Florence drive alive.
“Hats off to CSCS, they played a heck of a game," Florence coach Jeremy Nix said. "We didn’t do a whole lot of things right tonight. We need to re-evaluate what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. Just get back to the basics and back to the drawing board a little bit. We have to find our character again.”
CSCS pushed the lead to 14-0 on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Stockton to Severin Grundvig. And the defense continued to limit what the Huskies were able to do offensively.
"We just got that momentum going and it kept rolling and we’d go from one play to another and we’d score," Stockton said. "Then our defense stops them. It’s how it goes. We ended up scoring again and the momentum was always there.”
On the ensuing kickoff, the Huskies mishandled the ball and the Lions jumped on top of it, setting up first and goal. They came away with a 31-yard field goal off the leg of Greg Olson to push the lead to 17-0.
A Stockton touchdown pass to Grant Baker and a 77-yard touchdown run from Joe Dunn accounted for the two CSCS scores in the second half. Considering the slow start offensively, the Lions responded the way coach Jay Kersey was hoping he'd see from his boys.
“All week I was telling them how physical this game was going to be, and it was," Kersey said. "It took that first quarter and we got punched in the mouth a bit. It knocked our kids back a little bit and I told them they had to learn how to respond to that stuff. From now on, they’re going to get punched in the mouth every play. That’s how playoffs are."
He was quick to point out that the score was no indication of the quality of team that Florence is.
"They’re well-coached and they’re going to tear it up in the playoffs too,” he said.
The 1A football RPI will be finalized this weekend and the brackets will be released on Sunday.