No. 3 Ralston Valley locks up 5A Jeffco title

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ARVADA — The Madden to Rillos connection on Oct. 21 helped Ralston Valley to its first conference title since 2019.

Ralston Valley junior quarterback Logan Madden had touchdown throws of 30, 51 and 23 yards to senior Josh Rillos in the first half, helping the No. 3 ranked Mustangs to a 27-20 victory over Chatfield. The win clinched the Class 5A Jeffco League title for Ralston Valley (7-2, 4-0 in league) with one conference game remaining this week against rival Arvada West (4-5, 2-2).

“I’m super proud of these guys being league champions and now we have our huge rival in Arvada West next week,” Ralston Valley first-year coach Jared Yannacito said after the big home victory at the North Area Athletic Complex. “They’ll be ready for that one next week.”

The Mustangs came out ready against Chatfield (4-5, 3-1) who was riding a 4-game winning streak coming into the game. Madden orchestrated a 71-yard, 6-play drive on Ralston Valley’s first offensive possession, capping it off with a 30-yard touchdown grab by Rillos.

“On those play calls I wasn’t the first read,” Rillos said of his touchdown catches. “I just got open and Logan threw me the ball.”

Of Madden’s 16 touchdown passes on the season Rillos had half of those with eight. Madden finished the game 17-of-23 passing for 249 yards. Rillos had six catches for 153 yards 

“The Logan to Rillos connection is pretty sweet,” Yannacito said of the trio of touchdowns the combo connected for against the Chargers. “They just have really good chemistry and Rillos is an athlete who can go get any football.”

After a 37-yard field goal by Chatfield kicker Andrew Astone, Ralston Valley extended its lead to 13-3 with a long touchdown pass from Madden to Rillos with 9:11 left in the second quarter.

“He (Rillos) always has a step on guys. He is always going to get balls for me,” Madden said. “I feel comfortable throwing it to him. He is always there for me.”

The duo closed out the half with a 23-yard score on a fourth-down play with under a minute to play to give the Mustangs a 20-3 lead at halftime.

Chatfield didn’t go quietly. The Chargers took advantage of a pair of Ralston Valley turnovers in the second half. Sophomore Brock Narva had a 1-yard touchdown run on junior quarterback Jake Jones had a 3-yard touchdown pass to junior Drew Rohlman on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 27-17.

“We are still learning as a team that you have to close out games no matter what when you are ahead,” Yannacito said. “Hats off to Chatfield. Their first-year coach (Kris Rosholt) has those kids playing with heart. They are doing a great job competing after bumping up to 5A.”

Chatfield made it a one-score game when Astone kicked a short field goal with 3:56 left in the game to cut the lead to 27-10. However, Ralston Valley closed the door on the comeback attempt by getting three first-downs on the next drive to run out the clock.

Madden had a key 11-yard pass play to sophomore Liam Beattie on a third-and-10. Madden then had a first-down run himself before giving the ball to senior running back Diano Benallo who sealed the win with another first-down carry.

“(Chatfield) definitely keyed in on Diano more than most teams have because he has been killing it lately,” Madden said. “I just have to come through and play four quarters instead of just halves.”

Ralston Valley wraps up its regular season against rival Arvada West at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, back at NAAC. The Wildcats (4-5, 2-2) was sitting at No. 24 in the RPI standings heading into Week 10 action. An upset win over the Mustangs would play a big part in getting A-West into the 24-team playoff bracket.

“We’ve got to get them back for last year. I’ll never forget that,” Madden said of the 17-10 loss to A-West last season. “We just need to finish strong and finish going into the playoffs strong, hopefully get that bye.”

Chatfield (4-5, 3-1) is also a bubble team when it comes to the postseason. The Chargers — No. 22 in RPI — finish up their regular season against rival and No. 4 Columbine (8-1, 3-1) Friday, Oct. 28 at Jeffco Stadium. 

Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.

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