Rifle ousted by Holy Family in 3A state playoffs
BROOMFIELD – Two of the state’s strongest programs lined up to clash in the opening round of the 3A postseason. Both Rifle and Holy Family entered the contest making their sixth consecutive appearance in the playoffs, but it was Holy Family (9-2, 5-0 3A Tri-Valley) who took control early to top the Bears 47-0 and advance to the quarterfinals.
Rifle (8-3, 4-1 3A WSL) knew that the Tigers would present a variety of challenges. The champions of the 3A Tri-Valley League, Holy Family boasted a 2,000 yard passer in sophomore quarterback Stone Samaras. On the ground, the Tigers boasted one of the top rushers in the classification, as senior Michael Zemin tallied a 2,000 yard season.
Entering the game, the Bears knew they’d be short-handed without one of their standouts, senior Drake Montgomery, who along with classmate Blaine Vance, had compiled a 1,000 yard campaign.
From the outset, Vance and the Bears ground game produced a couple first downs on their opening drive. However, a fake punt attempt near midfield came up short, setting up the Tigers with a short field.
It didn’t take long for Holy Family to cash in. Three plays into the drive, Zemin broke through the Bear defense for a 32 yard score.
On the second Rifle offensive sequence, the complexion of the game shifted. Vance was injured on a third down carry, meaning an already-young Bears squad would be without both of their leading carriers.
Holy Family intercepted Bears quarterback Luke Ellis shortly after the injury, and the Tigers scored again two plays later. Zemin tallied his second touchdown, this time from eight yards away, after a long pass play set up Holy Family deep in Bear territory.
Juniors Camron Shephard, Brandon Fletchall, and sophomore Tanner Vines began to shoulder the load offensively, but the Bears couldn’t manage to string together a lengthy first half drive.
Meanwhile, Holy Family continued to dictate the tempo. Samaras found senior Brodie Wolfe for a 27 yard strike, before Zemin scored for the third time to put the hosts in front by four scores. The Tigers added one more touchdown before the break to push their edge to 35-0.
A pair of Holy Family second half touchdowns, including Samaras’ third passing score, rounded out the final score.
Even with the difficulties in their loss to Holy Family, Rifle head coach Damon Wells knows that this has been another memorable year for the Bears. “It’s difficult to maintain a program at this level, so that speaks to the effort that these kids have put in to be back here again.”
All the while, Wells recognizes that the Bears have taken in the experience and continued to build the program. “All the memories that these kids will have, not just from the wins and losses, will be something they can take with them the rest of their lives.”
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