No. 5 Ralston Valley football cruises to win in home opener

ARVADA — Three-sport athlete Caleb Rillos knows how to turn a negative into the positive.

Rillos suffered a broken wrist during basketball season last winter. Besides missing the remainder of the hoops season, Rillos was out the entire spring lacrosse season.

Ralston Valley senior Caleb Rillos, left, reaches for a pass late in the first half Friday at the NAAC. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“During the off-season I worked on getting my basketball shot better with my right hand, dribbling with my right hand and catching footballs one-handed,” Rillos said after catching two third-quarter touchdowns in Ralston Valley’s 40-7 victory late Friday afternoon at the North Area Athletic Complex. “I tried to make the best of a bad situation.”

Ralston Valley — No. 5 in the latest Class 5A football rankings — is definitely in a good situation with an impressive 3-0 start to the season. The Mustangs have outscored their three opponents — Mountain Vista, Fairview and Poudre — by a score of 132-40.

“We did really good, but we definitely have to fix somethings for sure,” Ralston Valley senior linebacker Braden Siders said. “There is always room for improvement.”

The Mustangs got to a 40-0 lead to induce a running clock midway through the third quarter after back-to-back touchdown catches by Rillos. Senior quarterback Walker Brickle tossed three touchdowns. Seniors Ben Takata and Kaleb Tischler each had a touchdown catch to add to Rillos’s pair of touchdowns.

Ralston Valley senior Braden Siders (34) shoves Poudre quarterback Sergio Tarango out of bounds Friday at the NAAC. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

The last touchdown catch by Rillos came from sophomore back-up quarterback Zach Friedman. Junior Tyler Roybal had a 5-yard touchdown run. Ralston Valley’s defense also got involved with the scoring.

Siders hit Poudre quarterback Sergio Tarango early in the second quarter forcing a fumble. Junior Will Lester scooped up the loose ball and took it back 20 yards for a defensive score.

“I think the defense has gotten better each week,” Ralston Valley coach Matt Loyd said. “We played hard Week 1, but had too many mistakes. We’ve eliminated those mistakes, but we need to keep getting better.”

Ralston Valley forced five Poudre turnovers as the Impalas didn't score until late in the fourth quarter against the Mustangs' back-ups.

With Brickle — second-year starting quarterback — back behind center, along with the running back tandem of Roybal and Chase Wilson returning, the Mustangs have plenty of experience at their skilled positions.

“We have a lot of threats,” Rillos said of the offense. “There are a lot of threats to guard.”

Ralston Valley senior JJ Galbreath (8) wraps up Poudre senior Tommy Thomas on Friday at the NAAC. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Rillos had monster games receiving in the first two weeks. The senior had 13 catches for 231 yards and three touchdowns coming into Friday’s game.

“I came back with so much more fight in me,” Rillos said. “It’s so hard to sit out when you are hurt and can’t do anything. I was ready to come back and get after it.”

The Mustangs are back at NAAC next Thursday night. Ralston Valley squares off against Loveland. The Indians — No. 7 in the 4A rankings — defeated the Mustangs up north last season.

“We are trying to play every game as hard as we can,” Siders said. “We try not to worry as much about the competition as much as playing as hard as we can.”

Poudre (1-2) is back home next Friday night Cherokee Trail.

Ralston Valley senior Chase Wilson weaves his way through Poudre defenders during the first quarter Friday at the NAAC. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)