MONUMENT — Coming off a big loss to Discovery Canyon last week, the No. 4 Palmer Ridge Bears were looking to start its Class 3A football playoff run on a better note in a first-round game against No. 13 Holy Family.
Junior quarterback Luke McAllister led the way for Palmer Ridge with six touchdowns (five passing, one rushing) as the Bears thrashed Holy Family 63-7. Seniors Deuce Roberson and Raef Ruel along with sophomore Anthony Costanzo combined for four touchdowns as well.
McAllister was quick to heap praise on his teammates after the game. “All my receivers, including Raef as a running back, I wouldn’t be as good without them,” said McAllister. “They carry this offense. I’m only as good as they are.”
All six of McAllister’s touchdowns came in the first half, with the score 49-7 at halftime. Palmer Ridge tacked on two more touchdowns in the second half as McAllister watched from the sidelines, getting a much-deserved rest while the second-string offense moved down the field.
“Luke is something different,” said Costanzo, who also had an interception early in the second quarter that led to a Ruel touchdown. “He’s stepped up big time from last year to this year, obviously filling in a super big role from (former Palmer Ridge quarterback Ty Evans) leaving. But I think the biggest thing for him is he isn’t Ty Evans, he’s Luke McAllister. He’s done good (and) he’s stepped up big time to props to him.”
“I think we did a good job of running the ball early,” said Bears head coach Tom Pulford. “The offensive line had a lot of different looks that they dealt with from Holy Family and I thought they dealt with them very well. We were able to protect Luke and give him some time to make some good decisions down the field. Luke’s done a good job for us all season long it was fun to see him execute at that level tonight with good help up front.”
It was a great way for the Bears to kick off their 3A state title defense after stumbling in the regular season finale. Pulford was happy to see the way his team started fast and played through the final whistle.
“I think that our kids responded to adversity well coming off of last week’s game to Discovery Canyon,” continued Pulford. “I think we’re starting to see what this team is capable of and I think that the challenge is practicing at a high level all week long so we can come out at our best next week.”
From here on out, the goal for the Bears has really simplified and will continue to do so as the playoffs drag on.
“Just go 1-0 each week (and) practice little things,” McAllister said.
That’s not just a McAllister philosophy, it’s something that has been ingrained into every member of the team. The road to a third-straight title is pretty easy in their minds.
“Just be more focused, that’s it really,” Costanzo said. “Just be more focused.”