By Craig Harper
For the Courier
LAKEWOOD — If Chatfield had called “Duck” on the final play against Columbine as well, it might be donning the Super 6 League football crown. Instead, the Chargers saved it for the last play of the regular season and gained some measure of compensation.
Duck, where a running back runs a “wheel’’ pass route to the outside, worked to perfection Oct. 25 at Jeffco Stadium against Arapahoe. Kyle Winkler hooked up with Michael Callahan-Harris for a 20-yard touchdown as time expired for a 48-46 victory that denied the Warriors a second-straight Super 6 title and, ironically, handed it back to Columbine. The stunning finish also gave Chatfield its first seven-win season (7-2, 3-2 Super 6) since 2007 and enhanced their seeding for the 5A playoffs.
It was flashback time for Chatfield. The Chargers shot into prominence when Winkler beat then-No. 2 Cherokee Trail on a final-play scoring pass to Brandon Zanier. They faced a similar situation Oct. 4 against Columbine, but Winkler’s final-play pass from the 18-yard line fell incomplete. The resulting 50-43 loss coupled with a last-minute 40-34 loss to Mullen on Oct. 18, reduced the Chargers to the role of spoilers against Arapahoe.
“We put it in for a moment like this,” said Winkler, who was 17-of-26 passing for 261 yards and four touchdowns. “We were saying if we had a play like this during the Columbine game for the last-second drive, it might have been different.”
“It was a play we’ve only run once and we only had about 10 seconds to call it,” said Chatfield coach Bret McGatlin.
“We practice it, so I knew it would be good,” said Callahan-Harris, who rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns. “(Winkler) stepped up in the pocket just when we needed it and I knew right as he stepped up it was money.”
The play capped a zany game that saw Arapahoe rally from a 42-31 deficit midway through the third quarter. The Warriors held Chatfield’s potent offense scoreless from the 7 minute, 44 second mark of the third until its final drive and seized the lead with a pair of touchdowns. Gabe Peterson’s fourth touchdown pass, a 13-yarder to Ethan Brunhofer — they completed a 40-yarder early in the fourth quarter — put Arapahoe on top 46-42, with 1:45 left.
But Chatfield fans and opponents have learned the Chargers and their hurry-up offense don’t need much time to score, no matter the distance. This time they had 80 yards to go, and it took a fourth-down conversion, a facemask penalty on Arapahoe and back-to-back gutsy run calls with one timeout left to get a first down at the Warrior 21 with 10.3 seconds on the clock.
The Chargers amassed 606 yards total offense, including 345 rushing behind Callahan-Harris.
Chatfield, seeded ninth, will host No. 24 Rocky Mountain in the first round of the 5A playoffs on Oct. 31 at Jeffco Stadium. Game time is set for 6 p.m.