Class 3A football playoffs: Evergreen fends off Glenwood, ends Demons’ season
For the Post Independent
EVERGREEN 24, GLENWOOD SPRINGS 7
Glenwood 7 0 0 0 — 7
Evergreen 2 17 3 2 — 24
GS –Dante Sparaco 20 run (Herbie Vega kick), 5:19.
E –Safety, 2:01.
E — FG Davis Price 37, 10:06.
E — Seth Ausman 41 pass from Dylan Reifeis (Price kick), 6:34
E — Robbie Weinel 9 run (Price kick), 3:28.
E — FG Price 27, 5:17.
E — Safety, 0:33.
First downs 7 16
Rushes-yards 29-47 44-202
Passing yards 59 170
Total yards 106 372
Comp-Att-Int 6-20-0 11-32-1
Punts-Avg 10-50.2 4-34.2
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 3-40 8-78
RUSHING — Glenwood, Luke Prosence 7-18, Sparaco 20-15, Evrett Marr 2-14. Evergreen, T. Cassin 22-133, Reifeis 9-40, Weinel 8-18, Hayes 3-8, Reed 2-3.
PASSING — Sparaco 6-20-0-59. Evergreen, Reifeis 11-32-1-170.
RECEIVING — Chase Nieslanik 3-28, Marr 2-22, Gentry 1-9. Evergreen, M. Cassin 4-63, O’Hearn 3-16, Ausman 2-53, Weinel 1-13, T Cassin 1-12.
LAKEWOOD — The undefeated champ took a first-quarter body blow from the challenger, but Evergreen High School’s football team steadied itself to score 24 unanswered points and overcome Glenwood Springs, 24-7, in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs at Trailblazer Stadium on Saturday.
The Cougars (11-0), who averaged nearly 40 points a game in sailing through the Metro North League to earn the No. 2 playoff seed, scored their first, and last, points on safeties and shut down the Glenwood offense after falling behind 7-0 on a 20-yard TD run by Dante Sparaco with 5 minutes, 19 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Glenwood’s 57-yard scoring drive began with a perfectly thrown 22-yard pass to Evrett Marr. For the rest of the game, Sparaco was 5-for-19 passing for 37 yards and was sacked eight times for a loss of 61. Marr set up his sophomore quarterback’s 12th rushing touchdown of the season with a 13-yard run. Evergreen, which held opponents to an average of eight points a game this season, then clamped down on the Demons’ rushing attack, allowing 45 yards in 12 carries the rest of the game.
Sam Carmer intercepted Cougar QB Dylan Reifeis at the goal line following the Glenwood scoring drive, but Luke Prosence was tackled in the end zone on the next play to produce the unusual 7-2 score after the first quarter.
After the safety, Chase Nieslanik boomed a 69-yard free-kick punt from his 20, but Reifeis drove the Cougars 76 yards in 12 plays, ending with a 37-yard field goal from Davis Price, cutting the lead to 7-5 two minutes into the second period.
Reifeis,who threw for 1,588 yards and 17 touchdowns in the regular season, made the play of the game on the Cougars’ next possession. Facing third-and-11 at the Demon’s 41, the junior quarterback was chased out of the pocket and outran several defenders toward the right sideline before unleashing a missile to Seth Ausman alone in the end zone. That scramble and throw seemed to take the air out of a large Glenwood crowd and gave the Cougars their first led, 12-7 with 6:34 to go in the half following Price’s point-after kick.
Evergreen forced another Nieslanik to punt and Connor Solawetz grabbed a tricky hop and returned it 19 yards to the Glenwood 39. Reifeis scrambled out of trouble and ran nine yards for a first down to the 27, where a late-hit penalty on Glenwood moved the ball to the Demons’ 12. Three plays later, Robbie Weinel eluded two diving Demon defenders for a nine-yard TD and a 19-7 lead with 3:28 remaining in the half.
Glenwood mounted what would essentially be its final attempt to get back into the game, gaining two first downs to midfield when a shotgun snap got by Sparaco for a 12-yard loss, killing the drive.
Nieslanik punted three more times in the third quarter, on his way to a 50.2-yard average in 10 attempts, while the Demon offense netted minus-5 yards and Sparaco was 0-for-7 passing and sacked three times. The beleaguered Demons’ defense held Evergreen to a 27-yard field goal by Davis.
Four more punts and three sacks in the fourth quarter, including one for a safety with 33 seconds to play, ended Glenwood’s season with a 6-5 overall record. Evergreen, which earned its first playoff victory in 15 years, advanced to the quarterfinals to play Fort Morgan. The 10th-seeded Mustangs upset No. 7 Holy Family, 35-18, in another first-round game Saturday.
Reifeis finished with 170 yards passing, but completed just 11-of-32 passes. Sparaco was 6-of-20 for 59 yards.
“He didn’t have his best day,” Glenwood coach Rocky Whitworth said, “but as a sophomore, it’s pretty extraordinary what he’s done this year.”
“They put a lot of pressure on him, so he was off balance delivering the ball,” Marr, a senior receiver, said of Sparaco.
For Marr and 18 Glenwood seniors, it was back-to-back playoff seasons.
“There’s no regrets,” Marr said. “It was an awesome season and we gave it everything we got.
Whitworth called Evergreen “the most complete team we’ve faced. We had to execute perfectly against this team, which we didn’t do.”
Talking about the senior class, Whitworth said, “We’re going to miss them. It’s a good class and it’s been fun working with them. Hopefully, this football thing they did will help them later in life. I wish them the best.”
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