|Determined Dragons beat Huskies|
|Written by Chris Lee|
A determined and hungry Holyoke Dragon football team took the field at Platte Canyon High School Saturday, Nov. 3.
For the seniors on the team, it was a goal of theirs to reach the playoffs, now it was time to win. And win they did.
It was Holyoke celebrating on the field when all was said and done. The Dragons beat previously undefeated Platte Canyon 42-20 on a chilly Saturday afternoon in the mountains.
Gathering with their parents and fans in a huddle on the field after the game, coach John Zilla voiced his praise for the seniors picking up a playoff win. He said the victory was a team effort. “You’ll never forget this,” the coach added.
“We’re not done,” coach Merle Powell told the group.
Zilla expressed his appreciation towards the fans and parents who made the long drive to Bailey for the game.
“Looking up, I think we had as many fans as they did. And that’s very good for the kids,” Zilla said Monday morning.
The win evened the Dragons’ record at 5-5 on the season. They will advance to the state quarterfinals and host Wray Saturday, Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. at Max Bernard Field in Holyoke.
Wray beat Byers 46-7 Saturday to advance to this Saturday’s quarterfinal round.
HHS senior running back Brett Cumming (22) breaks away from the line for a 47-yard gain midway through the second quarter of play Saturday, Nov. 3 at Platte Canyon High School. Cumming had a season high 306 rushing yards and four touchdowns to help the Dragons beat the Huskies in the first round of the Class 1A state football playoffs. —Enterprise photo
Platte Canyon jumped on the board first last Saturday afternoon. Holyoke won the toss and deferred to the second half giving the Huskies the ball to begin the game.
Platte Canyon moved right down the field on their opening drive and scored on a pass from Ty Bentley to Indy Hooser with 8:15 left in the first quarter. Bentley ran in the two-point conversion to give the Huskies an 8-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for the Dragons to answer the score. On Holyoke’s first drive of the game, Brett Cumming scored on a 36-yard touchdown run. On the two-point conversion try, it was again Cumming who got the handoff and trotted into the endzone to tie the game with 5:27 left in the opening period.
The scoring slowed as Holyoke forced the Huskies to punt on their next possession. Platte Canyon got the ball right back when a tipped pass from TJ Gertner was intercepted by Bentley.
After a holding penalty, the Huskies lined up for a first and 20 but the drive ended when the ball was fumbled and covered up by Holyoke’s Logan Tharp at the Huskies’ 23 yard line. The Dragons moved the ball to the 12 and from there, Bradley Cumming ran in for the second Holyoke score of the day. Dylan Kotch added the two-point conversion to put Holyoke up 16-8 with 29 seconds left in the first quarter.
The second quarter was relatively quiet until the final seconds when fireworks exploded.
With 17 seconds left in the half, Platte Canyon’s Jake Robl punched in a one-yard touchdown run. The Dragons managed to hold Gary Rhoads out of the end zone on the two-point try.
The ensuing kickoff went for a touchback, setting the Dragons up at their own 20 yard line. Gertner gave the hand off to Brett Cumming who ripped off a 47-yard run down to the Huskies’ 33 yard line. The Dragons called a time out to stop the clock with 3.8 seconds left. Cumming was stopped on his next attempt but the referees threw a flag on Platte Canyon for a face mask.
Even with no time left on the clock, the penalty gave Holyoke one more play. From the 11 yard line Cumming ran in the team’s third score of the day, pumping energy into Holyoke’s sideline and fans.
The two-point conversion was no good and Holyoke held a 22-14 advantage at the half.
Dylan Kotch finds a hole on the line to open up second half play last
Zilla said Brett was very determined last Saturday and wasn’t going to be brought down by the first tackler to him. The coach said Holyoke’s other two backs sort of fed off Brett. Both Bradley and Kotch ran the ball hard. Zilla also praised Kotch for the blocking he did to help spring some big plays.
Zilla also said the score right at the half jolted them to victory. “They didn’t know what happened to them after that,” the coach said of the Huskies.
Having deferred to the second half, Holyoke received the ball to begin the third quarter. Hoping to put some added pressure on their opponent, the Dragons were looking to tack on another score right out of the gates.
It was the big man at fullback that got the call. Kotch got things rolling with a 10 yard gain right off the bat. Brett Cumming carried the next two times and Kotch got the ball on a third and 10 from the 36 yard line. He barreled his way 34 yards down to the two yard line. On the next play, he plowed his way in for the score. A two-point conversion was no good, but Holyoke led 28-14.
Time ran out on the third period before either team had a chance to get anything going.
Brett Cumming added another score with 10:46 left in the game on a 34 yard touchdown run. He added the two-point conversion to give Holyoke a 36-14 advantage.
The senior tailback who had a season-high 306 yards went on to add one more touchdown with 8:45 left in the game. The two-point conversion was no good.
The Huskies wouldn’t quit and came back to score one more time with 5:06 left in the game. Their two-point conversion was no good leaving the scoreboard to display 42-20 in Holyoke’s favor.
Coach Zilla let the first team offense move the ball a little on their final drive to let the clock tick down. With around two minutes, the second team offense took the field with freshman quarterback Taylor Mayden under center. The youngsters showed their toughness and picked up two first downs as time expired on the game.
The win was the first first-round victory for Holyoke since 1998 when the Dragons made it all the way to the semifinals before losing.
“It was a very important win,” Zilla said Monday morning. “The kids really got their confidence built up.”
The coach noted the team was a bit nervous leading up to the game, but Zilla said he kept reiterating that as far as he was concerned, everyone was back at 0-0. “There’s no 9-0, there’s no 4-5. We have to take this next step to go on.”
All of Holyoke’s offensive production came on the ground. The Dragons rushed for 441 yards.
Brett Cumming led the charge with 306 yards on 22 carries and four scores. Bradley Cumming had 70 yards on 10 carries and one score while Kotch had 54 yards on nine runs and one touchdown. Others carrying the ball were Gertner, Nick Ortner, Marques Harvey and Mayden.
Defensively, Tharp led the team with 24 tackles. Jesus Hermosillo had 18, Kotch 16 and Brett Cumming 13. Sixteen Dragons recorded at least one tackle last Saturday.
Alfredo Santos and Tharp each recovered a fumble.
Zilla said the higher altitude forced them to rotate personnel in and out a bit more than usual on the defensive side of the ball. It was evident as some of the players were sucking wind as they came out of the game.
Zilla said he was very happy with the play of everyone who went into the ball game. He said there was no quit.
Wiggins falls to Hotchkiss
Wiggins earned the No. 7 seed and played host to No. 10 Hotchkiss Saturday. The Tigers fell to the Bulldogs 7-48.
Wiggins and Wray were the two other teams from the North Central Conference making the 2012 state bracket.
Wray will travel to Holyoke Saturday to face the Dragons.
The two teams met two weeks ago in Wray where the Eagles won 27-6.
“We need to play all four quarters to win this ball game,” Zilla said of the quarterfinal matchup Saturday afternoon.
Team to gather Friday night
The Dragons will gather for a team meal Friday night at coach Zilla’s home. Following the meal, the public is invited to swing by at 7 p.m. for a “We Believe Football Rally” to greet the team and coaches. A couple special guest speakers will talk. The rally will take place at Zilla’s home at 415 S. Worley Ave.