Big plays lift Bear Creek football to win over Wheat Ridge

LAKEWOOD — It appeared the only thing that could stop Bear Creek senior Adrian Valenzuela from finding the end zone were penalty flags Friday night at Jeffco Stadium.

The big playmaker for the Bears (2-3, 2-2 in Class 4A Jeffco League) had four touchdown catches of 66, 20, 13 and 30 yards to help Bear Creek to a 46-25 victory over Wheat Ridge.

Bear Creek senior Adrian Valenzuela strolls into the end zone for a 66-yard touchdown catch during the second quarter Friday night at Jeffco Stadium. The senior receiver had four touchdown catches on the night. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“Honestly, coming into this game my mentality was this was going to be the last time playing at Jeffco Stadium,” Valenzuela said. “I wanted to go out with a bang.”

Valenzuela also had a kickoff return and punt return for touchdowns called back because of Bear Creek penalties late in the second quarter and early in the third quarter. If not for the flags, the senior could have had six touchdown on the night.

“I’ll take the four receiving touchdowns, but man, I was hurting seeing those flags on the kickoff return and punt return,” Valenzuela said.

Valenzuela did put the hurt on Wheat Ridge (0-5, 0-4) helping the Bears score 25 unanswered points to open up a 39-17 lead early in the fourth quarter.

“Explosive,” is how Bear Creek’s first-year head coach Matt Steinfeldt described Valenzuela. “There are a lot of special pieces on this football team. Adrian is one of those that stood out on film. He missed a couple of games with an injury. He is now just getting into that in-game season.”

Bear Creek junior quarterback Jaedon Minter tossed all four touchdowns to Valenzuela as Bear Creek picked up its second victory in three weeks.

“I would love it,” Minter said of wishing he had Valenzuela for one more season. “He was my No. 1 receiver. He is a hard worker and the main guy I have to look for.”

Wheat Ridge senior Sam Mcdonough and Bear Creek junior Richie Caballero scored on short touchdown runs in the first quarter as the 4A Jeffco rivals went into the second quarter tied 7-7. Then it turned into the Valenzuela show.

Wheat Ridge senior Sam Mcdonough (3) picks up a block by senior Jack Vaugh (44) during a run in the first half at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

His 66-yard touchdown with 11:15 left in the second quarter gave the Bears a 14-7 lead. The Farmers (0-5, 0-4) responded with a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Luciano Vecchiarelli and 32-yard field goal by senior Matthias England to put Wheat Ridge up 17-14.

However, Minter hooked up with Valenzuela for a big 20-yard touchdown with 2:05 left before halftime to give the Bears the lead 21-17.

“It was all about my team,” Valenzuela said. “I couldn’t have done any of this without my team and my lineman. This was a team win. Yes, I scored four touchdowns, but I couldn’t have done it without my team.”

Bear Creek dominated the third quarter with the Bears’ defense not allowing the Farmers to cross midfield. Junior Andrew Montoya kicked a 34-yard touchdown and Minter found Valenzuela for his third touchdown of the game. The 13-yard touchdown catch gave the Bears a 31-17 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Minter to Valenzuela for a 30-yard touchdown with 8:38 left in the fourth quarter put the icing on the victory cake for the Bears.

“As seniors we wanted to leave our legacy and our mark on this place,” Valenzuela said, who took photos with his fellow seniors at midfield after the victory.

Bear Creek is scheduled to close out its regular-season schedule next Friday night against Golden (1-3, 1-2) at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada.

“When we came into this program we knew there was a lot of talent here that we could mold and develop,” Steinfeldt said. “Consistency going into Golden is a huge thing for us.”

Bear Creek will likely play a non-playoff game on the road for Week 7 to close out the season.

“I feel like this program is going to keep on winning,” Minter said. “We found a new coaching staff that loves us. They know exactly what to do to have us win.”

Wheat Ridge wraps up its regular season Saturday, Nov. 14, against Standley Lake at Jeffco Stadium.

Wheat Ridge sophomore Francisco Munoz (11) is wrapped up by a pack of Bear Creek defenders Friday night at Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)