No. 6 Columbine football goes to the air in playoff win over Smoky Hill

LAKEWOOD — Columbine football’s Triple-H offensive threat was on full display Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium.

Seniors Tanner Hollens, Adam Harrington and Braeden Hogan all scored touchdowns in the first half for the Rebels in the Class 5A second-round playoff game against Smoky Hill. The No. 6-seeded Rebels went on to cruise to a 43-14 victory to move into next week’s state quarterfinals.

Columbine senior Adam Harrington, right, attempt to breakaway from Smoky Hill senior Tavaras Transou during the first half Thursday night. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“Anytime we all score we all definitely feel happy for each other,” Harrington said of Columbine’s Triple-H factor getting it done Thursday night. “Having a lot of weapons helps against defenses because they don’t know who to key on.”

The trio amassed 3,467 yards of total offense as juniors. Coming into Friday’s game Hollens, Harrington and Hogan had racked up 2,869 yards of total offense their senior season.

“That was huge,” Columbine senior quarterback Jadon Holliday said getting Hollens, Harrington and Hogan all going offensively. “All of them are threats and great athletes. Our offensive line did a heck of a job tonight.”

Columbine’s signal-caller threw three touchdown passes to help the Rebels’ cause. Holliday connected with Hogan for an 18-yard touchdown late in the first half to extend Columbine’s lead to 22-0 at halftime.

“It felt good. It’s about time we got it up,” Holliday said of his trio of touchdown passes to three different receivers. “It worked out how we wanted it. We usually don’t do that, but it worked out well.”

Osirus Smith (21), Tanner Hollens (6) and Andrew Lauritzen (58) celebrate the Rebels' opening touchdown against Smoky Hill. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Holliday launched a 65-yard touchdown to senior Adam Tasei on the Rebels’ second drive of the third quarter to push Columbine’s lead to 36-0. It was only Tasei’s second catch of the season.

Columbine senior Osirus Smith snagged Holliday’s final touchdown pass of the night with a 12-yard touchdown to push the lead to 43-6 late in the fourth quarter.

No. 11 Smoky Hill did have success moving the ball offensively. The Buffaloes drove inside Columbine’s 35-yard line five times on the night, but could only come away with one touchdown. Smoky Hill junior quarterback Leslie Richardson III hit junior DeAngelo Horn for a 36-yard touchdown with 8:23 left in the fourth quarter to end Columbine’s shutout bid.

The Buffaloes closed out the scoring on the night with a 95-yard kickoff return by senior Obasanjo Sanni.

“It was a little bit frustrating because we’d get them to third down and then they would get a long run or pass,” Hogan said. “It was bend but don’t break.”

Columbine (9-2 record) can take in the No. 19 Mountain Vista versus No. 3 Valor Christian game scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday night at Valor Stadium. The No. 6 Rebels face the winner of that match-up in the state quarterfinal next week. The only thing for sure is that it will be a road game for the Rebels.

“We are happy to be the underdog,” Hogan said. “I’m excited.”

Columbine senior Tanner Hollens (6) eludes a Smoky Hill defender near the Rebels' sideline Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

The Rebels entered the postseason last year undefeated. With back-to-back 1-point losses to Jeffco rivals No. 2 Ralston Valley and No. 5 Pomona, Columbine is more battled ready this season.

“I think the losses made us stronger,” Harrington said of the Rebels’ losses to Ralston Valley and Pomona. “We bounced back and have grown from them. Last year we went into the playoffs 10-0 and really didn’t get challenged. It was nice to get those games that were battles and you had to fight.”

It was the first trip back to Jeffco Stadium for legendary football coach Tom Thenell since taking over the reins at Smoky Hill two seasons ago. Thenell — who surpassed the 200-win mark this early this season — spent the majority of his coaching career at Bear Creek, leading the Bears to Class 5A state championship games in 1997 and 2000.

Thenell groomed some of the top quarterbacks in the state while at Bear Creek from 1992 to 2011. A top prep quarterback himself in the late-1970 at Mullen, went back to his alma-mater to coach Mullen for six seasons before his latest stop at Smoky Hill.

The Buffaloes have a 21-2 record since Thenell took over the program, including Smoky Hill’s first playoff victory since 1991 with a 48-6 win over Overland in the opening round of the 5A state tournament last week.

Columbine senior Tanner Hollens (6) dances past Smoky Hill defenders on his 22-yard touchdown run in the first quarter Thursday at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)