LAKEWOOD — Five minutes, 42 seconds. That’s all it took from the time Chatfield’s Shane Millard recovered the game’s opening kickoff until the Chargers scored their third touchdown Sept. 13 at Jefferson County Stadium. Chatfield couldn’t have asked for a better start. Dakota Ridge, meanwhile, might beg to differ.
The first meeting between the schools — a mere three miles apart — on the gridiron since 2009 was almost over before it even got started. Chatfield turned three turnovers into 21 points en route to a 42-6 non-conference thumping.
“That’s what we work for every week. That’s what we want,” Chatfield head coach Bret McGatlin said. “We know what that’s like. We’ve been on the other side of that, turning the ball over. …. But you have to take advantage of it. Three turnover on the first three drives you’ve got to score. It’s nice to get a start like that. It’s been a while since we’ve had a start like that.”
Millard’s recovery of a Dillon DeLauro fumble turned into a 3-yard TD run by Patrick Elsenbast six plays later. Then three plays after senior safety Larry Huff picked off a Dakota Ridge flea-flicker at the Chatfield 45, senior quarterback Mason Brozovich broke free for a 56-yard TD run and a 14-0 lead. A minute later, the Chargers (2-1) were back in the end zone after Tim Banning recovered a Zac Koch fumble and Brozovich hit Blake Ellis for a 12-yard score.
“We just came out super fired-up. Everyone was flying around. The defense played great. We were ready to go,” Huff said.
Dakota Ridge (2-1), ranked sixth in last week’s Denver Post 4A football poll, never gave itself a chance a week after a 41-0 thumping of Golden.
“We shot ourselves in the foot from the beginning. Three turnovers right away, 21 points. You erase the first six minutes of the game (and) the first half is at least pretty decent,” Dakota Ridge head coach Ron Woitalewicz said. “Against a great team like Chatfield that is well-coached you make that many mistakes you’re going to pay the price. Our goal now is we’ve got to learn from it. We can’t play like that against good teams and have a chance to survive.”
Chatfield made it 35-0 after three quarters courtesy of touchdown runs of 4 and 51 yards from Elsenbast and Brozovich, respectively. Michael Harris’ 3-yard plunge to open the fourth quarter forced a running clock for the remainder of the game. In all, the Chargers rushed for 287 yards — 10 of their 38 carries for 10 yards or longer.
“I’ve always been a big fan of running the football. I know when you run the football you can win championships,” McGatlin said. “We take a lot of pride in the offensive line. Those guys work hard. They want it on their shoulders. We have a lot of backs — running backs, quarterbacks — who can carry the ball.”
But the victory was a bittersweet one for McGatlin after Chatfield lost its starting quarterback late in the third quarter on a designed quarterback rollout. Brozovich suffered a high ankle sprain that will likely sideline him three to four weeks. Sophomore Kyle Winkler will take over in the interim.
Dakota Ridge avoided the shutout when junior DeVante Williams shook off would-be Chatfield tacklers for a 51-yard score with 1:51 remaining.