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Defense shines

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By Dan Johnson

After spending the past two hours hitting each other in the mouth, Front Range Christian and Custer County high schools took time after the game to enjoy to a few laughs.

The post-game circle not only included players from both Class 1A teams, but coaches, parents and anyone else that happened to be in attendance on a bright and sunny September afternoon at Front Range Christian High School. It was a nice reminder that while one team wins and another must lose (in this case it was Custer County coming out victorious, 20-7), football is just a game and that it’s okay to enjoy your opponent’s company once the final whistle has blown.

Defense was the name of the game Sept. 6, with both squads playing aggressive from the line to the secondary. Front Range Christian’s unit was particularly greedy, forcing three turnovers (all in the second half) and scoring the team’s lone points on the afternoon when senior linebacker Kris Tive returned a fumble 50 yards for a touchdown. The score drew the Falcons (1-1) within 20-7 with 11 minutes, 29 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.

Front Range Christian’s Brian Fast recovered his second fumble of the half two plays later in Custer County territory, but the offense failed to get a first down and ultimately gave the ball back to Custer County when Ben Nutsch’s pass was intercepted by Michael Barrett.

The Bobcats almost gave the football back to the Falcons again late in the quarter – fumbling twice – but they recovered both loose balls and when the Falcons did finally regain possession, they were unable to advance the football.

“I thought we did a good job in the second half of stopping their running game, and they’re primarily a running team,” said Fast, who opened the second half with a fumble recovery that led to Front Range Christian’s James Pettigrew attempting a 53-yard field goal that fell a few yards short.

Custer County scored all 20 of its points in the second quarter. Its offensive line wore down the Falcon defenders, creating large holes for backs Kyle Hershberger and Cody Hart to run through. Hershberger scored on runs of 4 and 29 yards and quarterback Corey Barnes threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Barrett.

The Falcons, who featured plenty of youth on offense, had a difficult time containing the Custer County defensive line. The Bobcats often had several players in the backfield either putting pressure on Nutsch or causing problems for backs Kyle Davis and Alex Campbell.

Nutsch did complete a couple of nice throws to Jalen Ledoux-Hayes, including a 20-yard completion. Pettigrew had a nice gain of 15 yards on a reverse.