No. 3 Columbine football flexes its muscle against Mullen

LAKEWOOD — Columbine junior Seth Cromwell made appearance-after-appearance into the end zone Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium.

After leaving last week’s game against Lakewood with an injury, the fullback looked to be at 100 percent in the Class 5A Jeffco League showdown. Cromwell had touchdown runs of 48, 1, 4 and 10 yards in a 32-3 win over Mullen.

Columbine junior Seth Cromwell, right, breaks away from Mullen junior Connor Warren during Cromwell's 48-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the game. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“I was crying like a baby. I thought something was torn, but it wasn’t,” Cromwell said of the ankle injury last Friday night. “I prayed to God and it got better.”

Columbine coach Andy Lowry held Cromwell out of practice to heal up for the Thursday night game.

“He (Cromwell) took care of it and it healed,” Lowry said. “He had a great game.”

Cromwell’s first touchdown was his longest of the night. His 48-yard touchdown run right up the gut put Columbine — No. 3 in the CHSAANow.com 5A football rankings — up 7-0 with 7:19 left in the first quarter.

The Rebels’ punishing rushing attack put up more than 200 yards on the ground in the first half.

“Our line was just rolling them over,” Cromwell said of the Rebels’ offensive line. “They did their job and everyone did their assignments. Therefore we got yards.”

Mullen (1-2, 1-2 in league) was in the game early. A 30-yard field goal by senior Aidan Lehman cut the Rebels’ lead to 7-3 early in the second quarter.

However, Columbine scored touchdowns on its next three positions to give the breathing room the Rebels (4-0, 3-0) needed to cruise to another victory. Columbine took advantage of short fields starting at midfield and its own 45-yard line on back-to-back scoring drives to end the first half.

Columbine junior Trace Williams-Mitchel (58) puts pressure on Mullen senior quarterback Ryan Schmitt during the first quarter Thursday night at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“Our defense played great and helped us out with all of that,” Lowry said of the short fields to work with in the second quarter that allowed the Rebels to extend to a 22-3 lead at halftime. “Proud of our guys.”

After a 90-yard touchdown drive by Columbine on its first possession of the second half to extend the lead to 29-3, the Mustangs did drive into Columbine territory. Lehman attempted a 61-yard field, but the kick came up just short.

Columbine junior Wes Jones booted a 34-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter for the final score of the game.

The game was more emotional with the passing of Ray Barron earlier this week. Barron was the head wrestling coach at Columbine, along with an assistant football and track coach. While battling brain cancer Barron came to a summer football practice on his birthday, July 15.

“When I first heard the news it was tough,” Columbine senior Jack Forbes said. “Barron was a tough guy, but we knew it was going to happen. It killed me for the first couple of days, but he is in a better place now. It helped motivate me this week and keeps me working hard these last couple of weeks.”

Forbes is a football player and wrestler at Columbine. Last winter, Forbes and Zach Schraeder both won state wrestling titles in the final two matches Barron would coach.

“He motivated all of our guys in the wrestling and football,” Forbes said. “We are going to play hard for him and keep going hard for Coach Barron.”

The tough part of the Rebels’ regular-season schedule really begins next week. Columbine is on the road at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada next Friday night against No. 8 Ralston Valley (3-1, 2-1). The Rebels then hosts No. 4 Pomona (3-0, 2-0) on Thursday, Nov. 12, at Jeffco Stadium.

“I’m excited,” Cromwell said of facing Ralston Valley and Pomona. “Competition makes you better.”

The Columbine versus Pomona shutdown in two weeks will likely determine the 5A Jeffco League champion and a guaranteed spot in the 8-team 5A state tournament field that begins the following week.

Mullen senior CJ Smith (2) finds some running room against Columbine's defense during the first half Thursday at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)