Golden football upsets No. 5 Dakota Ridge in 4A Jeffco finale

ARVADA — Golden football threw a monkey wrench into the Class 4A Jeffco League standings on Friday night.

The Demons upset No. 5 ranked Dakota Ridge 14-0 in a regular-season finale at the North Area Athletic Complex.

“I’ve probably watched to many Rocky movies growing up, but I love the underdog,” Golden coach Jared Yannacito said after the Demons’ biggest win since maybe Golden’s run to the 4A title game in 2002. “Our kids bought into that and we told them this was a program defining moment. We’ve done a lot of good things, but we hadn’t knocked off a top dog. Tonight we did it.”

Golden quarterback Joey Mancuso (2) just gets a pass off before getting hit by Dakota Ridge junior Colin Stuhr (3) during the first half Friday night at NAAC. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

The victory created a 3-way tie for the conference title. Chatfield wins the tiebreaker — point differential between Chatfield, Dakota Ridge and Golden — after the Chargers defeated Bear Creek 28-17 at Jeffco Stadium on Friday night to take the 4A Jeffco title.

While the Demons (8-2, 4-1 in league) helped out No. 8 Chatfield (8-2, 4-1), they also helped out where Golden will fall into the 16-team 4A state playoff bracket that will be released by the Colorado High School Activities Association on Sunday.

“The goal is hopefully to get high enough to get a home playoff game,” Golden junior quarterback Joey Mancuso said. “That would be great for the first round. We’ll see what happens.”

Golden’s defense made it happen for the Demons in their regular-season finale. An interception by Golden senior Kevin Mulligan late in the third quarter set up a key touchdown that gave the Demons a two-score lead.

“I don’t think we needed one big turnover because we were getting turnovers all night. I was just doing my job and got the pick,” Mulligan said. “We kept on getting turnover-after-turnover. We knew our defense would win us this game.”

The pick by Mulligan set Golden up on its own 35-yard line. Mancuso hooked up with sophomore Joshua Torrey for the biggest offensive play from the scrimmage of the night.

Dakota Ridge senior Jamal Yatribi (8) is taken down by Golden sophomore Dalton Summers (24) and senior Travis Poole (21) on Friday at NAAC. The Demons' defense held the Eagles to 25 yards in the first half. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“Josh is a sophomore and has been hurt for four weeks,” Yannacito said. “He was our guy that they probably didn’t plan for that much.”

Mancuso hit Torrey on a go-route down the sideline to the tune of 50 yards.

“My line gave me enough time to let me throw the ball and (Torrey) ran a heck of a route,” Mancuso said of the longest play from scrimmage of the game. “I just put it up trying to give him a chance. Everyone has to do their job to make a play. That’s what happened.”

Two plays later senior Braden Edwards scored from four yards out to give the Demons a 14-0 lead with 11:55 left in the fourth quarter.

Golden’s defense created two more turnovers in the fourth quarter and Dakota Ridge turned it over on downs too.

Dakota Ridge’s offense couldn’t get anything going. The Eagles were held to 25 yards of total offense through the first half. Dakota Ridge (8-2, 4-1) turned the ball over six times in the loss.

Golden put up the lone points in the opening half on the first drive of the game. The Demons had a 69-yard touchdown drive that was helped out by a 15-yard personal foul penalty. Mancuso finished the drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass to senior Carter Thompson over the middle with 9:29 left in the first quarter.

“Watching film we thought we had that play to Carter right down the seam,” Yannacito said of the first touchdown. “In these type of games you get one shot to hit those and we hit it.”

Dakota Ridge was No. 1 in the RPI, followed by Chatfield at No. 5 and Golden at No. 13 coming into Friday night’s games.

“Hats off to Dakota Ridge. That is a program that we are striving to be one day. That’s a top-10 team,” Yannacito said. “I’m so proud of these boys. This was a game we wanted so bad.”

Dakota Ridge quarterback Ben Gultig (2) attempts to step out of the tackle attempt by Golden junior Cambell Thompson (34) in the Class 4A Jeffco League finale Friday night at NAAC. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)