No. 5 Ralston Valley football off to its best start since 2014

ARVADA — Ralston Valley’s first six offensive possessions all yielded touchdowns Friday night at the North Area Athletic Complex.

“The (offensive) line gave me a great opportunity to sit back there and throw the ball all day,” Ralston Valley quarterback Walker Brickle said after throwing four first-half touchdowns. “We came in prepared and it showed.”

Ralston Valley's Devin McNearny (6) celebrates after his 60-yard touchdown catch with senior Ben Takata in the second quarter. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletic)

Ralston Valley — No. 5 in the current Class 5A football rankings — cruised to a 49-7 victory over cross-town rival Arvada West in the Class 5A Metro West League opener for the Mustangs and Wildcats.

Brickle connected with senior Caleb Rillos for touchdowns of 27 and 17 yards in the first quarter. Senior Chase Wilson had a 2-yard touchdown run and junior Tyler Roybal scored from 21 yards out on the ground.

The first four scores all came in the first quarter for Ralston Valley (6-0, 1-0 in league).

Brickle had a pair of touchdown passes to junior Devin McNearny in the second quarter. McNearny’s 60-yard touchdown with 8:40 left in the second quarter induced a running clock for the remainder of the game.

“Obviously our guys played well and did a good job,” Ralston Valley coach Matt Loyd said. “Defensively, it’s a broken record. They give us good field possession and the offense takes advantage of it.”

Ralston Valley junior Devin McNearny (6) finishes off his 60-yard touchdown catch Friday night at the NAAC against Arvada West. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Ralston Valley has now outscored its first six opponents 265-53. It's also the best start to the season for the Mustangs since 2014. Ralston Valley won its first 12 games before losing in the Cherry Creek in the 5A state semifinals.

That 2014 squad featured Andrew Wingard, who starred at the University of Wyoming and is currently a safety in the NFL for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“I haven’t even thought about that,” Loyd said when asked about the best start since the state semifinal team in 2014. “I know we have a tough league and tough opponents. We are just focused on that.”

Ralston Valley’s defense was just as impressive. Senior JJ Galbreath intercepted A-West quarterback Evan Hurlburt on the opening possession to give the Mustangs the ball on A-West’s 5-yard line.

“We knew they would come out with some passing plays. Some quick stuff when they spread it out,” Galbreath said. “I was just dropping into my flat and I broke on the ball.”

A-West (0-6, 0-1) managed one first-down in the opening half. A 16-yard pass from Hurlburt to junior Bradlee Wallen over the middle was the longest play of the first half for the Wildcats.

Ralston Valley senior Ben Takata (11) avoids an Arvada West tackler during the first quarter Friday night at the North Area Athletic Complex. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“We knew they would come out and be aggressive,” Arvada West coach Brad Pyatt said of facing Ralston Valley. “They came out and made some plays. We didn’t. Coming into this game I told our team we had to play clean and we didn’t play clean.”

The Mustangs kept things going in the second half. Senior Ben Takata took the opening kickoff of the second half 99 yards to give Ralston Valley a 49-0 lead.

A-West did end the shutout with a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Elijah Olson with seven minutes left in the game.

Ralston Valley is on the road the next two weeks. The Mustangs are at Mullen (2-4, 0-1) next Friday before heading to Jeffco Stadium for a showdown against No. 1 Columbine (6-0, 1-0) on Oct. 18.

“It feels special, but we need to stay humbled,” Brickle said of the 6-0 start. “We have a tough schedule ahead. We’ll keep grinding and playing our game. We’ll see what happens.”

Galbreath admitted there is some pressure as the Mustangs remain undefeated through the midway point of the regular season, but the nerves go away quickly after the opening kick.

“I guess you could stay there is pressure for some people at the start of games, but after that first play good by that all goes down the drain,” Galbreath said. “We are all athletic people playing the game of football.”

A-West has another cross-town rivalry game next week. The Wildcats face Pomona (3-3, 1-0) next Thursday night at the NAAC. The No. 8 Panthers shutout Lakewood in their conference opener Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium.

“Our kids are going to keep fighting,” Pyatt said.

Arvada West faces another cross-town rival next week. The Wildcats face No. 8 Pomona next Thursday night at the NAAC. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)