Rakowsky leads No. 9 Loveland to big opening win over No. 8 Heritage

LITTLETON — Moments after Loveland scored a touchdown to push their lead to two touchdowns early in the second half of their top-10 matchup with Heritage on Thursday night, an assistant coach gave the team a directive: "Now," he said, "is the time to dominate."

The boys delivered.

Loveland, ranked No. 9 in the preseason Class 4A rankings, rolled to a road win over No. 8 Heritage thanks to a stifling defense which forced four turnovers, and a relentless ground attack which put up six touchdowns. The final: 49-23.

Senior Zack Rakowsky accounted for three of the rushing scores, including a 63-yard burst which opened the scoring less than two minutes after the opening whistle. Rakowsky was the team's quarterback last season, though he did lead Loveland in rushing.

On Thursday, he spent much of the night lined up as running back, but he did also have a passing touchdown — a key 17-yard throw to Ian Loomis with 40 seconds left in the second quarter which gave Loveland a 21-14 lead at halftime.

Loveland sophomore Garrett Harstad had a solid night at quarterback, and had two rushing touchdowns himself. His first, from just outside the goal line, made it 28-14 midway through the third quarter — and sparked a fire within Loveland, aided by that assistant coach's directive.

Two minutes later, after another interception, Tyson Williams scored on a short fly sweep. Suddenly, it was 35-14, and Loveland was in complete control of the top-10 matchup.

Heritage battled, and quickly cut the score to 35-21 when quarterback Skydon Carrasco found 6-foot-5, 240-pound CU commit Erik Olsen.

But the night belonged to Loveland, and to Rakowsky. The senior added his third rushing score with 9:27 to play, which made it 42-21.

Following a Heritage safety, Harstad capped the scoring with a 21-yard dash with 2:42 left.

Heritage's Landon Kaiser had two touchdowns, one rushing and another receiving.

Loveland hosts Greeley Central next week, while Heritage is at Windsor.

More photos from the game. (PaulDiSalvoPhotography.com)