New faces guide Columbine past Arvada West

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By Dan Johnson

ARVADA — Phillip Romero is one of those players that, because of his athleticism, needs to be out on the football field as much as possible.

Good thing for Columbine that Romero has no qualms about playing multiple positions.

After spending time at wideout the beginning of the season, Romero filled in nicely at quarterback on Sept. 25 against Arvada West. As starter Danny Spond watched on the sidelines, nursing a shoulder injury sustained a week prior against Chatfield, Romero calmly led the Rebels to touchdowns on their first four drives. Columbine’s defense also did its part to make up for the loss of Spond, forcing three turnovers in the 34-17 Class 5A Big 8 League win at the North Area Athletic Complex.

The win kept Columbine atop the Big 8 League standings with Pomona. Both schools, which meet the final week of the regular season, sport identical 3-0 league and 5-0 overall records.

“I was nervous and excited at the same time,” Romero said. “I didn’t know we were going to be on TV until right before the game (the game was filmed by CNET), that brought my excitement up a little more. Knowing my team had faith in me, that helped me settle down and I was able to go out there and execute the offense the way it needed to be run.”

Romero had several nice runs around the edge of the Columbine offensive line, including an 18-yard jaunt that, at first glance, appeared to produce six points. But, officials ruled Romero down at the one. Two plays later, though, Romero scored his touchdown, giving Columbine a 21-0 lead one play into the second quarter.

Coach Andy Lowry really had nothing to nitpick over with Romero, and that is always a good thing for a quarterback. Now, the question becomes, how do the Rebels get Romero more touches once Spond is ready to go?

“He’s real elusive and quick,” Lowry said of Romero. “One of the reasons we went to some shotgun this year was to get him the ball. We’ve also tried him a little at running back, and now quarterback. We have to get him the ball, somehow, some way because he’s great out in space.”

Also emerging as a new weapon for Columbine was running back Demetrius McDondle.

While Kevin Richards and Jonathan Roberts handled most of the carries the first four games, neither really possess that game-changing speed that enables the Rebels to bring opponents to their knees with a single play.

McDondle (who, along with Romero was part of Columbine’s 4x100-meter relay team that qualified for the 5A state meet this past spring) showed flashes – literally – of that breakaway burst, ripping off four runs of 10-plus yards, including a 25-yard dash in the second quarter that set up his 1-yard touchdown run. He finished with a team-high 85 yards.

Arvada West quarterback Gavin Glanz played well in spurts, but when he was pressured by the Rebel defensive line (and that was often) he hurried his throws, which led to the trifecta of turnovers.

Cornerback Nathan Wiggins came up with the first Columbine interception on the game’s very first play. Wright and Bryan Birkeness had the other two. All three transpired in the first half, with all leading to seven points for the Rebels, who led comfortably at the break, 28-3.

“When you get pressure on the quarterback, it just makes it real easy on us in the secondary,” Wiggins said.