Quarterback Dante Markley holds the ball in the stomach of his fullback Carter Wasser against number 14 Centauri on Saturday. Markley and Wasser were proverbial thorns in the sides of the Falcons all day long in their Class 1A State Football Championship contest. The Bruins proved to be too much for Centauri and outscored them 41-8 in the second half for a 55-14 win.It's been 10 years or better since Cedaredge High School's football team has been in the playoffs. After winning the 1A WSL with a perfect record in league play, the Bruins are definitely showing they belong in post-season play.
A closely contested first half had the visiting Centauri Falcons thinking they were in the thick of things after scoring the game's first touchdown early in the first period. That euphoria dissipated in the second half as the Bruins went on a 41-8 scoring spree to post a 55-14 win in the Class 1A Football Championships.
Centauri came into last Saturday's game with a 4-1 Intermountain League mark and 7-2 overall. As the 14th ranked team, Centauri had the early momentum following an onside kick to begin the game.
That opening-game high didn't last long as the Falcons moved the ball to Cedaredge's 24 after starting on the Bruins' 30. The drive stalled and Cedaredge took over.
Cedaredge wasn't quite ready for play in its first possession as it too failed to produce much offense and punted the ball away after three plays.
The Falcons began their next possession on their own 44. After three running plays to the Bruins' 47, sophomore quarterback KC Jarvies found running back Jason Buhr open over the middle of the field for a catch and run play all the way to the end zone. A two-point conversion attempt failed and with 7:23 left in the first quarter, Centauri held a 6-0 lead.
Cedaredge began its next drive from its own 43 and moved to the Falcons' 45 on runs by Carter Wasser and an 11-yard pass play to Reid Gates. The drive fizzled and the Bruins punted the ball away.
Defense ruled the rest of the period and Centauri took its 6-0 lead to the second period of play.
A punt to Gates opened the second stanza. A return of 27 yards took the ball to Centauri's 45-yard line. A 22-yard pass play to Cade Wasser set up the first of three touchdowns scored by Gates in the game. A burst up the middle by Gates covered the final eight yards of a 45-yard scoring drive that took just five plays. A two-point conversion run by Carter Wasser gave Cedaredge an 8-6 lead with 10:45 left in the first half.
The Bruins got another scoring opportunity near the end of the second period. A punt gathered in by Gates deep in Bruin territory led to a long scoring run. Unfortunately for the Bruins, the play was called back on a block in the back by a Cedaredge player. Cedaredge began the drive at its own 23. With the help of a couple of offside penalties by the Falcons, Cedaredge was able to move the ball to Centauri's 49-yard line.
On the next play, Carter Wasser toted the pigskin 14 yards to the 35 and a first down. From there, Dante Markley dropped back in the pocket and found Cade Wasser down the right sideline for a 35-yard scoring strike. A two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the Bruins with a 14-6 score with 1:56 left in the first half. The drive took eight plays and covered 77 yards.
A fumble recovery by Dustin Stracener gave the Bruins yet another opportunity to score late in the first half. The Bruins moved the ball to the seven-yard line but ran out of time and had to settle for a 14-6 lead at the break.
The Falcons got the ball first in the second half but were forced to punt the ball after just four plays. Cedaredge started from the Falcons' 43 following the punt. A 14-yard run by Gates took the ball to the 29 where Markley lofted a 29-yard touchdown pass to Cade Wasser with 10:41 to go in the third quarter. The PAT failed, leaving Cedaredge on its way with a 20-6 lead.
The Falcons took advantage of a 44-yard pass play to Jareb Aziz that placed the ball at Cedaredge's six-yard line. Two plays later, Aziz bulled into the end zone from five yards out. A pass from Jarvies to Clay McCarroll was good for a two-point conversion to make the score 20-14 with 9:36 left in the third quarter.
Markley scooted 28 yards on the Bruins' next possession, giving Cedaredge a first down at the Centauri 30. Runs by Gates and Carter Wasser moved the ball to the 15. Wasser carried the ball the final 15 yards to make the score 26-14. A pass to Cade Wasser for the two-point conversion made the score 28-14 at the 7:36 mark of the third quarter.
Centauri lost the ball on downs on its next possession and gave the Bruins great field position at the Falcons' 29.
Gates picked up 14 yards on two carries and Markley and Gates connected through the air to cover the final 15 yards with 5:05 left in the third period. The PAT was a two-point conversion pass to Gates, making the score 36-14.
Markley ended Centauri's next drive with an interception and a runback that took the ball to the Falcons' 34. With 2:12 left in the period, Markley found Kyle Ward wide open for an 18-yard touchdown pass. A missed PAT kick failed, to make the score 42-14.
The Bruins had the ball at the end of the third quarter and kept the drive going in the fourth. Peter Williamson finished off a 27-yard scoring drive with a three-yard touchdown run. The extra point try failed, giving Cedaredge a 48-14 lead with 11:38 left in the game.
A punt by Centauri later in the quarter produced the game's final score on a 65-yard return by Gates. A Ward PAT kick made the final score 55-14.
Centauri lost the ball on downs three times in the game and two of those times led to scores. And the interception by Markley also led to a score.
Unofficially, the Bruins had 362 total yards while Centauri collected 224 yards. Markley threw for 139 yards on seven of 22 attempts. Cade Wasser led the receiving corps with 86 yards on three catches and two touchdowns.
Gates caught four passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns and scored once on an eight-yard run.
Carter Wasser ran for 83 yards on 12 carries and Gates had 80 yards on 14 totes. Markley finished the day with 37 yards on four carries.
For the Falcons, Jarvies was five of 20 for 115 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Buhr had two catches for 52 yards and one touchdown and Aziz had 54 yards on two catches.
Austin Velasquez rushed for 34 yards to lead the Falcons' ground game and Aziz was close behind with 33 yards.
With the win, Cedaredge moves on to play in the second round of this year's 1A championships. The Bruins will host number six Monte Vista, a 50-7 winner over Crowley County.
A quick look at the matchup next week indicates a number of similarities. Both teams are 9-1 on the season and have nearly identical scoring averages per game. Cedaredge scores at a 38.3 clip and the Pirates around 39.9.
The Bruins have a 245 yards-per-game rushing average and collect around 120 yards a game through the air. Monte Vista rushes for 342 yards a game and throws for another 56.
On the year, not counting last Saturday's totals, the Bruins have outscored their opponents 400-122 and Monte Vista is nearly the same at 399-104.
Each team's top running back has similar numbers as well. Carter Wasser accumulates an average of 110 yards per game while Monte Vista's Shadron Wenta has averaged 122.
Look for a battle on Saturday in Cedaredge. Game time has been set for 1 p.m.
In one of the school's biggest sporting events in recent years, the question of nerves prompted this response from head coach Brandon Milholland. "We were all tight. It's the first time in 10 years the school has been to the playoffs. Expectations were high and created lots of pressure."
There was plenty of anxiety in the first half as the Falcons stayed with the home team. When asked what was going through his mind, Milholland was quick to answer. "I might have been out-coached a little bit. We were too predictable in the beginning. There are certain downs you are expected to throw the ball, and we were too predictable in those situations. We changed to being unpredictable and started throwin on first and second downs."
Another helpful process in the game was in the hands of the Bruins' senior quarterback. "Dante started getting the passing game going because he got depth in the backfield so he could manuever when he needed to."
The early lead and aggressive play of Centauri really had Milholland thinking. "What they were doing was not what I had seen in film. I didn't know how it was going to end as we went to halftime."
Milholland was hesitant to name a most valuable player for the game. Instead, he praised the efforts of all the Bruins. Milholland did heap accolades on Carter Wasser and Markley. "They are good leaders and as tough as nails," noted Milholland.
The long hours of summer weight training and then another hour of throwing the ball has Milholland believing that routine has been one of the key ingredients to Markley's success this season.