Panthers come up short against Bobcats |

Panthers come up short against Bobcats

Middle Park running back Keaton Andres (12) is slowed down by Estes Park linebacker Zachery Louk (10) during the third quarter of Friday evening's, Sept. 5, battle for the Trail Ridge Trophy in Granby. Estes Park came out on top 16-8.
Byron Hetzler/ | Sky-Hi News

GRANBY — Friday night’s football game was a clash of purple and white. The Middle Park Panther’s took on the Estes Park Bobcats for the Trail Ridge Trophy in the team’s ninth match-up.

The game received a lot of attention and was featured on as the national Rivalry Game of the Week. The Panther’s lost the game 16-8, giving them a 5-4 record in the rivalry series against Estes, and a 0-2 record for the season.

There was no shortage of support from the Middle Park sidelines. Fans flocked to the school in the hundreds to support their local team. Many Panther fans arrived two hours prior to kickoff just to find a good seat. Although the Panther’s may have lost, the other events of the night were successful.

Touchdown Alley, sponsored by KRKY, drew many future Panthers to help celebrate the first home game, and the fireworks display following the game capped off a great night for fans.

“It’s so great to see everyone in the community getting involved with MPHS again. We’re so proud of these boys, we’re sad it’s our last year at Middle Park,” said Senior Class Presidents Will Colley and Evelina Reventaite.

The game began in the Panther’s favor. They received the ball near midfield, but were unable to move much further down field. Estes Park’s first drive resulted in an interception by Middle Park Senior Daniel Kopp. Despite having a great opportunity to score, the Panther’s were again unable to put any points on the board and were forced to punt.

The first touchdown of the game came during the second quarter. The Bobcats made a pass inside the 10 yard line and the receiver easily ran into the end zone. The next points also came in Estes’s favor after Middle Park fumbled into the Estes end zone before recovering it, giving Estes a two-point safety and a 9-0 lead going into the third quarter.

Estes scored again on a pass with a long run up to the end zone in the start of the second half. The score was 16-0 entering the final quarter of the game.

It was early in the 4th quarter that the Panthers had their best opportunity yet to score. However, the Panther’s threw an interception on third down after getting inside the 20 yard line. Estes was unable to progress after the interception and Middle Park was able to receive the ball with very good field position.

Junior quarterback Chance Martin threw a long pass up the Estes Park sideline to Junior receiver Brad Lutz, giving the Panther’s another shot at a touchdown. Two plays later, Martin found Senior receiver Jackson Chessman for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The Panthers were given two attempts at a two-point conversion after a penalty on Estes. Senior running back Keaton Andres was able to run the ball up the middle to help Middle Park put another two points on the board and cut Estes Park’s lead to eight.

Estes was kept behind it’s own 10 yard line on their next drive, so the Panthers received one last shot to tie the game. The Panthers had progressed to the Estes side of the field before throwing an interception then recovering it, giving them a first down.

However, one controversial call changed the possible outcome of the game. The Panthers were flagged for pass interference and received a 15 yard penalty. Middle Park was unable to overcome this monstrous setback and the game ended in a 16-8 loss.

Coach Adam Bright was proud of his team for putting up a fight in such a large game situation.

“We played hard. It took us too long to crank full speed. In a big game you’ve got to go hard from the beginning. Estes showed us they could play,” said Coach Bright.

The team was also discouraged with the loss and their inability to play hard from the beginning.

“They gave us a lot of opportunities to make big plays, we just couldn’t capitalize on it,” said Senior Keaton Andres.

Middle Park will play Strasburg at home at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12.

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