No. 6 Chatfield football hands Brighton its first loss

LAKEWOOD — Chatfield’s defense isn’t going to let the Chargers’ offense steal all the headlines this football season.

Squaring off against a Brighton defense that had only allowed 12 points in its first two wins of the season — including a shutout victory last week against Wheat Ridge — Chatfield’s defense wanted to make its own mark Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium.

Chatfield senior Shane Compton (7) and Brighton junior Eli Griffeth (10) battle in the air during the opening minutes Thursday at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“We know that our strength is in our back-seven,” Chatfield coach Bret McGatlin said of the Chargers’ defense after a 42-10 victory against Brighton. “They fly to the football. I know if we can hold teams to under 14 points we have a good shot.”

Chatfield — ranked No. 6 in this week’s CHSAANow.com Class 4A football poll — got down early when Brighton quarterback Alex Griffeth connected with junior Eli Bowman for a 45-yard touchdown pass in a flea flicker. It was the Bulldogs’ first offensive play from scrimmage.

“It just caught me off guard. I thought I had it,” Chatfield defensive back Shane Compton said of Brighton’s trick play that Compton nearly intercepted when he went up with Bowman for the ball. “It was kind of depressing.”

It was a different story for Chatfield’s defense for the remainder of the night. The Chargers (2-1) forced three Brighton turnovers, including interceptions by Compton and senior Nathan Freeman. The Bulldogs also had six drives that were three downs and out.

“Defense played lights out,” Chatfield senior quarterback Matt Canino said. “They did struggle in that first quarter, but they turned it around and set the tone. Everyone did their job defensively.”

Chatfield senior Colin Simcox (17) wraps up Brighton senior Elijah Cortez during the non-league game Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Chatfield got its high-powered offense into gear in the second quarter, scoring 21 unanswered points to take a 21-7 lead. Canino led the charge with his legs and arm. After Brighton fumbled, the Chargers took advantage with Canino finding the end zone on a 27-yard scamper down Chatfield’s sideline.

Chatfield’s defense forced Brighton into back-to-back three downs and out. Canino capitalized with a 6-yard touchdown pass to senior Daniel Nickels and followed that up with a 45-yard scoring strike to senior Jon Dorrance with 2:22 left before halftime.

On the touchdown to Dorrance, Canino was nearly sacked before slipping a pass over the middle. Dorrance did the rest splitting the Bulldogs’ defense.

“That was awesome,” McGatlin said of the touchdown pass to Dorrance. “He (Canino) grew up a lot tonight.”

Canino finished 14-for-23 passing for 164 yards and two touchdowns. He was also the Chargers’ leading rushing with 10 carries for 86 yards and another score.

Chatfield senior Daniel Nickels (1) tries to breakaway from a Brighton defender during the first half Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium. Nickels scored a touchdown during the Chargers' 21-point second quarter. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Chatfield running back Malcolm Boyd was bottled up for the most of the night. He finished with 16 carries for 47 yards, but did have a pair of touchdown runs in the third quarter that helped extend Chatfield’s lead to 35-10.

Sophomore Jake Marschall put the icing on the homecoming game victory with a 57-yard touchdown late after McGatlin pulled his starters out of the game.

“We lost our homecoming game last year. We wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again,” Compton said. “We turned it up defensively. We have absolute ball hawks back there.”

Chatfield is prepared for a run of three straight Thursday night games that began against Brighton. The Chargers face Fruita-Monument in Grand Junction next Thursday and travel to Greeley West on Sept. 26 to finish of their non-conference schedule.

“I prefer Friday night games, but tonight we can proved we can come off a short week and come out with the ‘W’ on homecoming,” Canino said.

Chatfield senior Colin Simcox (17) tackles Brighton senior Elijah Cortez (3) to the ground. After giving up an early touchdown, the Chargers' defense was stellar in the 42-10 victory over the Bulldogs. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)