LAKEWOOD — Dakota Ridge’s football players and coaches were in an awkward position Nov. 2 at Jeffco Stadium cheering for rival Chatfield to win. “It’s going to be awful, but we are hoping for …
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LAKEWOOD — Dakota Ridge’s football players and coaches were in an awkward position Nov. 2 at Jeffco Stadium cheering for rival Chatfield to win.
“It’s going to be awful, but we are hoping for the best right now,” Dakota Ridge senior Josh Roybal said of rooting for Chatfield to defeat Bear Creek in the Class 4A Jeffco League finale.
Dakota Ridge (6-4, 4-1) took care of its business with a 34-17 victory over Golden on Nov. 1 at Trailblazer Stadium. The win gave the Eagles at least a share of the conference title.
The Eagles grabbed the automatic bid as the Class 4A Jeffco League champion when Chatfield defeated Bear Creek 44-11 on Friday night at Jeffco Stadium. Dakota Ridge and rival Chatfield finish tied for the league title, but the Eagles’ 31-21 head-to-head victory over the Chargers on Oct. 18 gave Dakota Ridge the tiebreaker and conference title.
When the dust settled in what was a wild 4A Jeffco League, Dakota Ridge (No. 11 seed) and Chatfield (No. 13 seed) will represent the conference in the 4A state tournament that begins this week.
Golden (5-5, 1-4) put an early damper on the playoff scenario for Dakota Ridge. The Demons jumped out to an early 14-0 lead with an 11-play, 65-yard opening scoring drive capped off with a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback David O’Connell.
On the Eagles’ first offensive snap, Dakota Ridge quarterback Ben Biffinger was intercepted by senior Jack Walters who returned it 42 yards for another Demons’ touchdown.
“This year we have battled every single game and battled to the end,” Golden coach Jared Yannacito said. “We weren’t going to change that this week.”
However, Dakota Ridge regrouped and ended up outscoring the Demons 34-3 the rest of the way. The Eagles had five rushing touchdown and forced five Golden turnovers to rally for the victory.
“I was never really nervous. We’ve been down before,” Dakota Ridge senior running back Jered Garcia said. “I knew we would battle back. We’ve done it multiple times this season. I trust all of my boys (offensive line) up front. I knew we would do it.”
Garcia was the workhorse for the Eagles’ offense with 29 carries for 226 yards and two touchdowns. His 48-yard run midway in the fourth quarter eventually set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Biffinger that put the Eagles up 27-17.
“I was really proud of our guys and how we ran the ball,” Woitalewicz said. “Jered Garcia is a phenomenal kid. For our offensive line to control the ball the way that they did was huge for us.”
It was a roll-coaster ride of a season for Golden and second-year coach. The Demons got off to a 4-1 start, but heartbreaking conference losses to Grand Junction and Bear Creek prevented Golden from being in the mix for the league title and a playoff berth.
“I’m so proud of where this program is going. The record doesn’t show it this year, but we played tougher teams. We were in every single game,” Yannacito said. “We are still building, still growing and kids are building confidence. I’m proud of the Demons.”
Dennis Pleuss is a communications specialist for Jeffco Public Schools with a focus on athletics and activities. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com/Jeffco.
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