PEACH VALLEY — Coal Ridge High School’s football team hasn’t felt this good for a long time. That was pretty easy to see on Saturday.
“This is huge, especially with how things went last year,” Coal Ridge senior running back Jared Duran said following the Titans’ 47-0 season-opening victory over Dolores. “So to go from the way things went last year to 47-0 today just feels great.”
Duran was a big part of that, rushing for 144 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries to pace an offense that finished with 236 rushing yards and 338 yards of total offense. Duran’s touchdown runs came from 2, 47 and 4 yards out, with his 4-yard jaunt with 5 minutes, 49 seconds remaining in the third quarter giving the Titans a 40-0 lead to kick in the 40-point, running-clock mercy rule.
The victory also snapped a long stretch of losses for Coal Ridge. Save a win by forfeit to Grand Valley from last season, the Titans’ previous victory came in a 27-0 victory against Pagosa Springs on Sept. 28, 2012. The Titans had lost 13 in a row on the field prior to Saturday.
“It’s definitely been a while,” a smiling coach Kyle Sager said. “This was a good thing to see. It was nice to be able to get everybody in the game and to see this thing develop the way that we’d hoped.”
Coal Ridge sophomore quarterback Jackson Sargent finished 6-of-9 passing for 102 yards and three touchdowns, with two of them going to senior wide receiver Tyler Sheerin. Max Bettle had the other TD reception — a 23-yard strike from Sargent with 5:12 remaining before halftime that gave the Titans (1-0) a 21-0 lead following the point-after kick from Luis Hernandez.
The Bears (0-1), who play in the Class 1A Southern Peaks League, didn’t have enough manpower to keep up with the 2A Titans. Though Dolores had posted a season-opening 33-6 win on Aug. 23 against Montezuma-Cortez’s junior varsity squad, the Bears were limited to just one first down in each half and eight yards of total offense, including negative-two yards rushing. Running back Brandon Donaldson paced Dolores with 26 rushing yards on seven carries.
“It was nice to see the backups, even when they came in, keep going hard throughout the whole game,” Sager said.
At first, however, it didn’t seem like Coal Ridge’s running game — or Duran, for that matter — would be a factor.
After forcing the Bears to turn the ball over on downs on their first possession, Colton Ellis made a diving 35-yard reception on the Titans’ first play from scrimmage to set Coal Ridge up with a first-and-goal on the Bears’ 6-yard-line. Duran was stuffed for the three-yard loss and no gain on his first two carries, but Sargent hit Sheerin for a 9-yard TD strike with 8:41 on the clock to give the Titans the lead for good.
Duran only had one rush for negative yardage the rest of the game, and his ability to keep his legs moving to shake off tackles helped the 5-6, 150-pound running back gain most of those yards.
“We kind of came out timid with the running game,” Duran said. “After that and after we got rid of all of the nerves we at the beginning, the line stepped it up, and that allowed me to step it up.”
Coal Ridge continues nonleague play on Friday when the Titans host a much stronger Class 1A team in Meeker, which posted a 46-0 home victory over Roaring Fork on Aug. 29.