Undefeated Ralston Valley rolls into 5A football state semifinals

ARVADA — It was another Friday night at the office for Ralston Valley.

The No. 2-seeded Mustangs cruised to a 42-14 victory over No. 10 Eaglecrest at the North Area Athletic Complex in the Class 5A football state quarterfinal game.

More photos. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“It’s a business and we aren’t done with our job yet,” Ralston Valley senior JJ Galbreath said after the undefeated Mustangs punched their ticket to the 5A state semifinals. “We still have hopefully two more games. I believe in myself, my team and my coaches. I’m ready to come home with a ring this year.”

The victory set up an all-Jeffco semifinal either Friday night or Saturday next week at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood. No. 6 Columbine upset No. 3 Valor Christian 37-30 on Friday night to set up the rematch of the epic 24-23 victory for the Mustangs back on Oct. 18 at Jeffco Stadium.

“It’s going to be a hell of a game,” Galbreath said of the rematch. “Those guys are physical. That team is the most physical team I’ve ever played, but I’m excited. Let’s get after it again.”

Galbreath got after it late in the first half against Eaglecrest. Back-to-back touchdowns to close out the first half in the span of less than 40 seconds by Galbreath gave the Mustangs a nice 35-7 cushion.

Galbreath caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Walker Brickle with 37.2 seconds left in the second quarter. Galbreath was back in the end zone with a 50-yard pick-6 after crossing the goal-line with 0.6 seconds left before halftime to extend Ralston Valley’s lead to 35-7 over Eaglecrest.

More photos. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“I think it went through my hands initially and hit me in the chest,” Galbreath said of his pick-6. “I kind of bobbled it, but I still got it.”

Eaglecrest (9-4 record) got on the board with an 8-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Max Marsh on the Raptors’ best drive on the half, but Ralston Valley answered with the back-to-back touchdowns by Galbreath to close out the first half.

“It’s just a backbreaker when you are trying to score before halftime and you end up giving up six points the other way,” Ralston Valley coach Matt Loyd said of the second defensive score for the Mustangs in the first half. “That was huge for us.”

Ralston Valley started the scoring with a scoop-and-score by Ralston Valley sophomore Zach Friedman midway through the first quarter. A second-quarter 8-yard touchdown run by senior Chase Wilson and 59-yard touchdown catch by junior Devin McNearny pushed the Mustangs’ lead to 21-0.

More photos. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“Being a junior and starting for all those seniors I love these guys. I never want to let them down,” McNearny said. “To have an impact in a game like this felt great.”

Wilson ran in his second touchdown run of the night to extend the lead to 42-7 early in the fourth quarter. Brickle’s two touchdown passes put him at 32 touchdown passes on the season. Galbreath reached double-digit touchdown catches on the season with his 10th of the season.

“We came out wanting to run the ball tonight,” said Wilson, who has 14 rushing touchdown on the season. “We made some quick adjustments.”

The Mustangs (12-0 record) has mirrored their postseason run of 2014. Ralston Valley rambled to a 12-0 mark heading into the 5A state semifinals where they lost to eventual state champion Cherry Creek.

“This is not the goal. They want to go farther and farther. They are focused to do it,” Loyd said. “We are just happy to be moving on. Andy (Columbine coach Andy Lowry) does a great job and we’ll see what happens next week.”

More photos. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)