Football: Middle Park loses Trail Ridge Trophy, 31-3 |

Football: Middle Park loses Trail Ridge Trophy, 31-3

by Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

The Trail Ridge Trophy will be spending another year in Estes Park after Middle Park High’s football team suffered a 31-3 thrashing at the hands of the Bobcats on their home field in Estes Park last Friday night, Aug. 9.

During Friday’s game, which opened both teams’ 2008 season, the Panther offense was unable to generate a sustained enough drive against Estes Park’s solid defense to reach the end zone. On the other hand, the Estes Park offense succeeded several times in breaching Middle Park’s line or going over it with passes.

Going into Friday’s season-opener, the Panthers had hoped regain the Trail Ridge Trophy and earn some payback after the Bobcats beat them last fall 29-15 on Middle Park’s field. The Panthers won the trophy in the inaugural Middle Park vs. Estes Park clash two years ago by a score of 18-0.

“Estes Park is a much improved team over last year,” said Coach Marc Loberg. “We’ve got to learn the lessons from this game, fix the things we can and continue to improve every game this fall.”

Middle Park’s defense did a good job of stopping Estes Park’s offense on its first couple of possessions, but then a failed attempt by the Panther offense to fake a punt turned the ball over to the Bobcats close to midfield late in the first quarter.

Capitalizing on it, Estes Park’s offensive line finally punched through the Panther defense to score the Bobcats’ first touchdown.

Energized by that first score, Estes Park’s offense quickly went back into action after the second quarter began to score a second TD after switching to an aerial attack with a couple of well-aimed passes that gobbled up 60 yards and set up a final two-yard push across the goal line. Before the first half ended, the Bobcats were back on the scoreboard with a third touchdown after a combined rushing-passing drive took them 93 yards back across the field and into the Panthers’ end zone.

After a halftime of mulling over their mistakes, Middle Park’s players returned to the field with a renewed determination to make something happen. After their first possession failed to gain ground, an excellent punt by Panther kicker Jordan Reynolds left the ball inches from Estes Park’s goal line. Then in superb effort, Middle Park’s defensive linemen crushed any attempt by the Bobcats to move the ball forward.

Forced to punt, Estes Park’s kick was high and short, leaving the ball in the Panthers’ possession at the Bobcats’ 18-yard line. Despite being in excellent field position, Middle Park’s offense was unable to drive a hole in the Estes Park solid defensive line.

Finding themselves in a fourth-down-and-seven-yards-to-go situation, the Panthers then opted for a field goal attempt. With the offensive linemen fending off the onrushing Bobcats, kicker Jordan Reynolds booted the ball 25 yards through the goal posts for three points and Middle Park’s only score of the game.

Despite that success, the Panther offense was unable to repeat it again while Middle Park’s defenders did their best but were unable to prevent Estes Park from scoring two more touchdowns before the game finally ended.

“We just couldn’t complete during that game,” Loberg said. “The team suffered from some first-game jitters and we had some injuries.”

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