Granby " Panthers crush Golddiggers to reclaim Mountain Man Trophy |

Granby " Panthers crush Golddiggers to reclaim Mountain Man Trophy


The Panthers of Middle Park High charged to victory in their first home football game of the season, beating Clear Creek’s Golddiggers 30-12 on Friday night.

The win was an excellent recovery for the Panthers, who fell 31-3 to Estes Park’s Bobcats during the season-opener the previous weekend.

“We had a great week of preparation to get ready for Clear Creek, who has a great passing game,” said Middle Park’s coach Marc Loberg. “Everybody on our team, especially our younger players, worked hard to get our varsity ready for this one. This is a win we can build off of.”

Friday’s victory also regained the Mountain Man Trophy for the Panthers, who lost it last year to the Golddiggers. Middle Park has now won the trophy four of the five years of its history.

“We’ve brought the Mountain Man Trophy back to its proper resting place,” Loberg said. “It was a fun game and a good way to start the school year.”

Middle Park got on the scoreboard first late in the first quarter of Friday’s game. A superbly thrown pass by senior quarterback Mike Schmidt was caught by receiver Jordan Reynolds, who scored the Panthers’ first touchdown. Reynolds then topped it off by booting the ball through the goalposts for the extra point.

Clear Creek almost succeeded in scoring on the return kickoff that took the ball to Middle Park’s 30-yard line. The Golddiggers battled forward as the second quarter began, but their drive was cut short by an interception by the Panthers’ Justin Cisneros at the 6 yard line.

Finding themselves deep in their own territory, the Panthers began a long, grinding drive of short passes and rushes led by Schmidt and Reynolds, who alternated as quarterback. Still 16 yards short of the endzone, Middle Park opted for the field goal on a fourth-down play. Reynolds’ kick through the uprights added three more points to Middle Park’s points total as the first half ended.

If the Panthers felt secure with a 10-0 lead, the Golddiggers quickly upset them as the second half began. An excellent return on the opening kickoff brought Clear Creek to Middle Park’s 36-yard line. Then a couple well-thrown passes put the Golddiggers into the endzone for six points.

The 10-6 score remained unchanged until just after the start of the fourth quarter as a Middle Park’s drive reached Clear Creek’s one-yard line on a 27-yard rush by running back Zane Bickler. In one final push, Panther quarterback Mike Schmidt plowed into the endzone for the touchdown. Reynolds then added the extra point with another well-aimed kick.

After the Panther defense quickly crushed the Golddiggers’ next possession, Middle Park returned the short punt to Clear Creek’s 39-yard line. On the first play, Schmidt pitched the ball to running back Ben Shipman, who scampered around the left side of the field for the touchdown.

Still full of fight, the Golddiggers retaliated immediately with an excellent passing-and-rushing drive that scored their second TD. Their attempt for a two-point conversion failed when Shipman intercepted their pass.

Clear Creek then attempted to quickly regain possession of the ball with an onside kick, but Middle Park’s Jake Finch snagged it at midfield.

The Panthers’ final possession of the game earned them another touchdown. A series of rushes by Bickler as well as another well-executed pitch by Schmidt to Shipman took the ball 72-yards across the field to Clear Creek’s 3 yard line.

Receiving excellent blocking once again, Schmidt charged up the middle into the endzone for the score. Reynolds then capped the successful drive with one more extra-point kick.

“I want to give credit where credit is due and that is to our offensive line,” coach Loberg said. “Center Mitch Sprague, guard Mitch Strang, tackle Chris Hillison, tight-end Sam Damon, right guards Kyle Anderson and Cory Berger, and right tackle Charlie Miller did an outstanding job to make this win possible.”

Middle Park earned some good rushing stats in Friday’s game. Zane Bickler earned 122 yards, followed by Ben Shipman with 114 and Mike Schmidt with 103.

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