After a devastating 56-6 loss to the Caliche Buffaloes in an away non-conference game Sept. 29, the South Park High School football team regained command of the field and ruled the Rocky Mountain Lutheran Eagles 60-24 in an away conference game Oct. 6.
“This is exactly what the boys needed after taking such a beating. We’re at the tail end of our season and this, being a league game, made it a big deal. Our boys stepped out and played four great quarters of football; they played very physical and never gave up,” head coach Jim Carpenter said.
With the win, the Burros have climbed to a 2-1 league record and stand third within the A-8 Central (eight man) football standings below Front Range Christian (4-2, 3-0) and Elbert (3-3, 2-1), but lead Justice (2-3, 1-1) and Rocky Mountain Lutheran (0-6, 0-4) in the campaign.
South Park, which is now operating in its third season of eight-man football, is among 40 eight-man football teams statewide competing for the top-16 seeds of the postseason Colorado State Playoff bracket.
Having captured its third win on the season and four losses, the Burros have moved to the 24th position (updated on CHSAAnow.com on Oct. 7), holding a Ratings Percentage Index of 0.484.
“Playoff hopes are still possible. We have to win our next two games for sure, but anything can happen,” Carpenter said.
Coming off of a 66-22 loss to Front Range Christian Sept. 29 spurred the Eagles into action, as they drove for the first assault against the Burros and backed it up with the extra two-point conversion.
“They run a goofy offense that has tripped us up and led us to slaughter in the past, but our boys hung in there after the first points scored and didn’t let it get in their heads,” Carpenter said.
In a counterattack, the Burros scrambled to see senior Camren Rullan on a 42-yard rush for a Burro first touchdown.
“It was a great offensive play and Camren made it happen,” Carpenter said.
With the extra-point unsuccessful, the Burros trailed 8-6 at the bottom of the first quarter.
Warmed up, the Burros crusaded to squash their opponent in the second quarter and held them to eight additional points.
“Rocky Mountain Lutheran is limited in numbers this year and held only 12 kids on their side of the field, but we were even on that account as we started the game with 11, but were reduced to 10 after one of our juniors got injured in the first quarter. All in all, it was some true ironman football,” Carpenter said.
Kicking off the movement, Rullan completed a 77-yard pass to junior Michael Kelley, who ran it in for the touchdown. An unsuccessful conversion left the Burros still trailing 16-12.
In the four-quarter spread, Rullan was able to throw for 143 yards in six completions.
Amped and on a roll for the lead, senior Daigen Springer burst from the crowd for a 95-yard rushing touchdown to gain six for the Burros.
“It was awesome! Daigen ran hard and earned every yard of that play,” Carpenter said.
A successful three-yard rushing conversion from Rullan put the Burros in the lead 20-16.
The Burros continued to work the defensive side to hold the Eagles from the end zone. In an all-inclusive team effort of 56 total tackles, senior Seth Hermansen and Kelley led the security with 11 tackles each, Hermansen with 11 solo and Kelley with eight solo and three assisted.
“Rocky Mountain Lutheran is not a team to underestimate, and our defense did a great job in reading the play,” Carpenter said.
Persisting on the defensive side, Springer jumped for the interception and ran the ball back for a 70-yard return. The senior’s act was one of three interceptions of the game, also performed by senior TJ Peter and Kelley.
“The defense just played so aggressive and stopped Rocky Mountain Lutheran’s passing game and forced them to a running game, which is not their strong suit,” Carpenter said.
Holding possession with the clock boiling down, the Burros struck again to see Rullan on a seven-yard rushing touchdown. Although the conversion was found unsuccessful, the Burros ended the half 32-16.
“It usually takes a full quarter to get to our full potential, especially after halftime. This game was no exception to that,” Carpenter said.
Hitting hard, the Eagles belted in the third quarter for their third touchdown of the game, followed by the conversion to up their score by another eight points.
“Rocky Mountain Lutheran took a hit by losing several seniors last year and is a young team. They tend to be tilted on the offensive side, but led the conference last year,” Carpenter said.
Firing back on a planned quarterback sneak, Rullan found the end zone on a 12-yard rushing touchdown. While the extra-point was unsuccessful, the Burros held the lead 38-24.
A force to be reckoned with, Rullan is known to be dangerous in and out of the pocket. The senior quarterback was able to complete the game with 150 rushing yards in 11 carries.
Having regained their footing, the Burros held their opponent from scoring again. The team effort continued throughout the defensive side as Peter (six solo), Springer (six solo), Rullan (six solo), and junior John O’Donnell (five solo, one assisted) contributed six tackles apiece.
“I can’t take anything away from Rocky Mountain Lutheran. They never gave up and played all the way through,” Carpenter said.
Rullan, once again, found his way into the end zone on a 10-yard rush. The conversion brought the score up to 46 in the fourth quarter as Rullan completed a three-yard pass to Kelley.
In a team total of 143 receiving yards, Kelley led the rally with 83 yards in three receptions.
Still pushing the boards, the Burros returned to their foot soldiers to find Springer on a three-yard rushing touchdown. The dynamite senior led his teams total of 417 rushing yards with 200 rushing yards in 17 carries.
On top by a 52-24 margin and still plenty of time to work with, the Burros changed their strategy to find Hermansen on a 47-yard rushing touchdown. The senior was able to finish the game with 50 rushing yards in three carries. A three-yard rush from Kelley then put the Burros at 60 points to end the game.
“It felt so good to take the upper hand against Rocky Mountain Lutheran, since we’ve suffered several whacks from them in the past. I think a strong win like this will keep the guys hungry and focused for more,” Carpenter said.
The Burros will now look to advance on their 3-4 overall record when playing a filled-in opponent with the Custer County Bobcats in a home game Oct. 20.
The Burros were originally scheduled to play Belleview, but the squad has dropped its program this year due to lack of participation.
“Custer is putting up good numbers. We were able to scrimmage them in the preseason, and they were a tougher team early on. I am predicting a pretty good game,” Carpenter said.
The Bobcats will enter Burro territory holding a 3-3, 1-2 record after their recent 57-14 loss to Pikes Peak Christian Oct. 5.