COLORADO SPRINGS — With the students out of school for the day and parents also off work, turning Garry Berry Stadium into a party venue felt like an easy decision to make. That party revolved around the football season-opener for both Coronado and Cheyenne Mountain who waited a couple more days to play their first game of the year.
The players took the field after Coronado students flooded the grass field just west of Garry Berry to take advantage of grilled food and games like cornhole. Then the stadium filled to watch the only game the state had to offer for the day. It was Cheyenne Mountain coming away with a 41-40 win, but the day was about much more than just one football game.
“It didn’t sound like a lot of our kids were heading out of town, so we thought this would provide a great atmosphere for everyone,” Coronado athletic director Jim Porter said. ‘It was a great community event and provided a unique atmosphere for our kids.”
The Cougars (0-1 overall) jumped out to a fast 14-0 lead with both touchdowns coming as a result of blocked punts. Jaiden Yoney recovered the first blocked punt for a touchdown and LaDarius Mays jumped on the second blocked punt and trotted into the end zone.
Cheyenne Mountain (1-0) pulled to within two points after scoring two quick touchdowns, the first of which came on a bubble screen to Dom Seaton which he broke open for the long score.
The Cougars increased the lead thanks to two safeties and a touchdown from Mays. The Indians again got to within seven after Colton Bellew picked off Coronado quarterback Gabe Chapel and evaded every Cougar tackler on the way to the end zone.
But each time Cheyenne Mountain battled back, misfortune would strike. A fumble fell into the hands of Coronado defensive lineman Elijah Border who went untouched into the end zone to give the Cougars a 32-18 lead at halftime.
Cheyenne Mountain started the second half with a fumble recovery for a touchdown to once again get back to within a score.
“We came out hot in the second half, that was the biggest part,” Cheyenne Mountain junior receiver and defensive back Brad Helton said. “The fumble was the best thing that could have happened.”
Helton contributed in a big way in the second half as he caught and 87-yard touchdown pass. Cheyenne Mountain then mounted a long drive that results in an eight-yard touchdown run by Dutch Jones to put Cheyenne Mountain up 41-40.
Helton came up big again with an interception off Chapel to all but clinch the victory.
The temperatures hovered in the mid to upper 90’s for the rest of the game, but overall those involved with the decision were happy with how things turned out with a Monday game.
“The time of the day is obviously something to revisit,” Cheyenne Mountain athletic director Kris Roberts said. “But this gives our community a chance to gather and the kids will be around practicing anyway so it’s a great time to get everyone together to watch a football game.”
Cheyenne Mountain didn’t mind being the visitor this time around and if the circumstances worked out to host a Labor Day game, coach Jay Saravis thinks the turnout would at least match what Coronado had pregame with the BBQ and lawn games.
“We have great fans,” he said.
Those fans that stuck around in the heat were rewarded with a thrilling win to cap off their holiday weekend.