COLORADO SPRINGS — Behind a strong effort from Brock Shalla and a defense that forced a plethora of turnovers, the Sterling Tigers were able to beat The Classical Academy in convincing fashion on Friday night.
The No. 5 Tigers won the top-10 battle in Class 2A against the ninth-ranked Titans, 48-21.
Shalla, a senior, had five total touchdowns in the win.
“He’s worked hard in the offseason to prepare himself between last year and this year,” Sterling coach Rob Busmente said. “A lot of it is just the dedication that he put in to prepare himself is what’s helped him play so positive this year.”
An early fumble by TCA on the second play of the game gave Sterling a chance to jump ahead. Senior Jaxon McCracken found sophomore Jackson Keil, putting Sterling up 7-0 just two minutes into the first.
TCA answered back just minutes later with a touchdown of their own. Senior Hayden Cooper took the ball 75 yards to the house on a quarterback keeper. Just a minute later, sophomore Matthew Segovia’s pick-six gave TCA their first and only lead of the game. Sterling responded immediately, however, as Shalla found a hole on a quarterback keeper and ran 47 yards for the tying touchdown.
An interception by Sterling on the ensuing TCA possession gave the Tigers the ball back on TCA’s 34-yard line. Another Shalla keeper for 20 yards, coupled with a few short runs, put the Tigers on the 1-yard line, where Shalla again kept the ball to give Sterling the lead with 1:37 left in the first.
A fumble on a bad snap by TCA was recovered by Sterling and returned for a touchdown midway through the second quarter.
Sterling used their momentum from the first half to fuel their start to the second. Shalla continued to wreak havoc as a dual-threat, rushing for another touchdown just three minutes into the third quarter.
The Titans’ run game showed some promise midway through the third, with sophomore Cade Palmer rushing from deep inside TCA’s half all the way to the Tigers’ 26-yard line. Cooper capped off the drive with a 35-yard keeper to keep the Titans within reach with just under eight minutes left in the third.
However, Sterling continued to keep their foot on the gas, with Shalla finding sophomore Peyton Rose for a 53-yard touchdown with 4:57 left in the third. Sterling added another touchdown just before the end of the third on a 19-yard pass from Shalla to senior Dylan Zwirn.
“These (losses) aren’t all that tough because it wasn’t even close,” said TCA coach Justin Rich. “Sterling’s a good team (and) we knew they’re a very good team from watching them. When you turn the ball over and don’t tackle well against a No. 5 team in the state, you expect to give up half a hundred, and we did.”