HIGHLANDS RANCH — If it were any team other than Valor Christian they would have had a chance.
But the reputation, the aura, the “Friday Night Lights” type of atmosphere in its beautiful stadium may have gotten the best of Ralston Valley.
And the Mustangs were beat 49-20 by juggernaut Valor Friday at Valor Christian Stadium.
It would be hard for any player and any team to go into Valor’s building and beat the Eagles. Not only are they reigning 5A champions but they feature sons of former Broncos’ greats Ed McCaffrey and Brian Dawkins amongst their extremely talented roster.
Valor quarterback A.J. Cecil threw for 278 yards and four touchdowns, and Christian McCaffrey recorded 230 yards and four touchdowns.
But Ralston Valley certainly wasn’t outclassed for three of the game’s quarters. But it was an ugly second quarter where Valor scored 28 points and blew the game wide open.
At the end of the first quarter the Mustangs were down only 14-6. But after going for it on 4-and-5 and not converting, Valor quickly made Ralston Valley pay for its mistakes.
“You have to take chances against Valor and if you get beat then you get beat. Because if you try to play conservative against them they could beat you even worse,” Ralston Valley coach Matt Loyd said.
Take away Valor’s huge second quarter and the Mustangs may have had a chance. Ralston Valley actually outscored the Eagles 14-7 in the second half, stealing two possessions away from Valor by on-side kicks.
“If we played like we did the second half during the first half we could have had a chance. But you have to takes gambles against Valor and we didn’t capitalize,” Ralston Valley junior running back Andrew Wingard said.
Wingard had a pair of second half touchdowns and despite playing against many student athletes who will go on to play collegiate football, proved himself as maybe the most talented guy on the field Friday.
And despite the loss Wingard gathered his teammates post game to thank his seniors and motivate his fellow underclassmen to put the work in the offseason necessary to beat a team as good as Valor next season.
“We had a good season this year and last year but we want to win a state title next season. That is our goal from this point forward,” Wingard said.
The Mustangs finish their season 7-4 with their losses coming to Valor, Pomona, Fairview and ThunderRidge — teams who had a collective four total losses.