There was no question about South Park High School football team’s power as the Burros produced three first-half, one second-half touchdowns and rode a stout defensive effort to a 30-15 victory over the Del Norte Tigers in a home non-conference game Aug. 31.
“The whole team played excellent, especially our defense. We really shut down their passing game and executed on our end, which turned into success,” Head Coach Jim Carpenter said.
Senior running back Daigen Springer powered the offense with an intimidating 201-yard rushing game in 37 carries to produce two touchdowns.
The fourth quarter also saw Springer gaining 10 yards in a single reception and 23 yards in two interceptions. Having tallied 234 all-purpose yards and 14 points, Springer was named Player of the Game by local radio station, 104.1 The Eagle.
“Daigen is a workhorse and has made giant steps from last year. He knew that he was going to have to step up and has become a mature running back that is reliable. He is making good decisions and pushing through the defense to make something happen,” Carpenter said.
Although the matchup with the Burros was the first on the season for Del Norte, the Tigers had left the 2017 season owning a 6-3, 3-3 record, having beat Sangre de Cristo, Rangely, Dove Creek, Sanford and Nederland the season before.
“Del Norte definitely had some weapons in their star quarterback and wide receiver, but they matched well with us on size. With the talent presiding, we just kept consistent pressure on their quarterback,” Carpenter said.
Building up the tension, the Burros released their first explosion with a 10-yard rushing touchdown from senior quarterback Camren Rullan, but an unsuccessful extra-point try put South Park on the board for six.
“It was quite the surprise, as the play was a quarterback sneak that turned into more than we had even anticipated,” Carpenter said.
South Park pressed on through a solid defensive movement as senior TJ Peter destroyed Del Norte’s effectiveness with an interception on their second possession and ran the ball back for a 32-yard return. Peter went on to finish the game with four total tackles (two solo, two assisted).
“Our defensive backs were on it and predicted the passes perfectly. Our three interceptions throughout the game were defensive strikes that definitely shut down Del Norte’s motivation,” Carpenter said.
On a high and ready to deliver, the Burros closed the first quarter with a 23-yard rushing touchdown from Springer, and upped their score to 14 with a three-yard rushing conversion from senior Seth Hermansen.
South Park’s defense continued to post its first-half shutout with Rullan leading his team with seven total tackles (five solo, two assisted), a sack to force an eight-yard loss on Del Norte and four quarterback hurries.
The team’s effort also saw junior Michael Kelley gathering five solo tackles, a sack that resulted in a two-yard loss and one quarterback hurry.
“Our defense really played as a team. Our blocking and tackling was spot on, and they just couldn’t be stopped,” Carpenter said.
Leading on the scoreboard 14-0 in the second quarter, the Burros added another celebration in the end zone with a 24-yard rushing touchdown from Rullan, along with a successful three-yard conversion from Springer. The Burros closed the first half 22-0.
“It was actually a passing play, but Del Norte pinched the pocket to force Camren to scramble, where he scored,” Carpenter said.
The senior quarterback rushed for a total of 60 yards in nine carries and finished the game with 41 passing yards in five completions.
Ready to level the playing field, the Tigers came out after the half and struck the Burros with back-to-back touchdowns and a field goal to close the scoring margin 22-15.
“It got really interesting in the second half, and we came out a little flat in the third quarter. It was evident that they had picked our defense apart and made offensive adjustments. It looked as though they were going to turn the tables, but we ended up rallying, made our own adjustments and went on with it,” Carpenter said.
Setting up to score again, the Tigers were foiled by an interception by Springer on the two-yard line, where their offensive campaign was brought to a standstill.
“Daigen’s first interception was pivotal for us. They were right there to take the game when he picked it off. They were gaining so rapidly, but our defense never gave up and stuck in there to come out on top,” Carpenter said.
Defensive coverage spread throughout the team as junior John O’Donnell and freshman Crue Bogert, finished the game with four tackles apiece (two solo, two assisted) and junior Matthew Ryszkowski added three tackles (one solo, two assisted).
The battle between the two opponents continued into the final quarter until Springer made his second interception, deep in Tiger territory, and ran it back for a 22-yard return.
In strong possession, the Burros marched the ball down the field and put it in with a two-yard rushing touchdown from Springer. The game was brought to an end with the Burros leading 30-15, as Hermansen capitalized on a three-yard rushing conversion.
Hermansen finished the game with six total yards, one solo tackle, three quarterback hurries and four points in two conversions.
But the taste of victory was short-lived, when the Burros came up against a hard 44-0 loss to the West Grand Mustangs Sept. 7.
“We were not the team that played the week before, and I was disappointed in our team’s effort. We knew we were going against a good team, and we were mentally beat before we even got off the bus,” Carpenter said.
Now holding a 1-2 overall record, the Burros will prepare to face Front Range Christian in a home conference game Sept. 15.
“They are new to our league this year. They were an 11-man football team, but their recent loss of numbers has put them to playing in an 8-man conference for the next two years,” Carpenter said.
The Falcons enter the contest holding a 1-2 overall record, having beaten Dolores Huerta Prep 44-6, but taken losses from Vail Christian (34-22) and Byers (72-38).
The A-8 Central League outing will be a first for both teams this season.