LAKEWOOD — The playoffs begin this week for the Chatfield Chargers and it might not take long for things to look eerily familiar.
Either that or the Chargers will have to call the Class 5A postseason their “Redemption Tour.”
The Chargers slumped to fifth in the Big 8 League standings Oct. 24 after suffering a wild 39-37 defeat to Arvada West at Jefferson County Stadium.
The defeat earned the Chargers (5-4) the No. 20 seed in the 32-team postseason bracket and a first-round matchup against No. 13 Thomas Jefferson (6-3).
If the Chargers upset the Spartans, they would probably face Pomona (8-1) in the next round. The winner of that would likely get Columbine (8-1) or Arvada West (6-3) – Jeffco teams that all beat Chatfield.
How’s that for some seeding?
The loss to the Wildcats marked another painful installment of oh-so-close football. The Chargers gave up the opening touchdown and were forced to play catch-up until the Wildcats won the game of brinkmanship with a 2-point conversion in the fourth quarter.
“I think we’re just not capitalizing on our opportunities,” receiver Nathan Neville said. “We’re playing a good team and I think we’ll be good in the playoffs.”
Behind the big plays of quarterback Sam Stratton and Neville, the Chargers rallied to tie the game at 24 and 31. The Wildcats scored with 4:25 remaining and elected to go for 2, which they converted with a run around the right side.
Chatfield answered with an 80-yard touchdown drive but their chance to tie the game at 39 disappeared with a low throw by Stratton to Kyle Slavin with 1:34 remaining.
Stratton had a hand in everything for the Chargers. He threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 64 yards and three more touchdowns.
Neville hauled in 11 passes for 133 yards and a 15-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Scott Kellogg had six grabs for 115 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown catch to give the Chargers their only lead of the game at 7-6.
The lead was gone quickly as the Wildcats drove 65 yards in six plays for a touchdown to restart the chase.
Seven times the Wildcats would run plays that gained 20 or more yards.
A microcosm of the Wildcats’ success was an 88-yard touchdown catch-and-run on third-and-25 that began as a seemingly harmless screen pass. Or there was a 54-yard touchdown run by Joe Altman that was a simple dive on the right side to convert fourth-and-1.
“They played a good game and we did our best,” Neville said. “They deserve it.”
The Chargers might have pulled ahead later in the game but two turnovers became 12 points for the Wildcats. Neville was popped on the Wildcats’ 5 and lost the ball, and Stratton sailed a throw and was intercepted on the Wildcats’ 11.
Chatfield did block two extra-point attempts – one by senior linebacker Nick Wade – and had senior Luke Gregory block a potential 53-yard field goal.
Wildcats’ quarterback Gavin Glanz had an epic night that hovered on statistical perfection.
He completed 22-of-27 passes for 385 yards and five touchdowns. Glanz completed all 11 pass attempts in the secondhalf and finished with an NFL quarterback rating of 158.3, which is the highest score possible.