Football: Eaglecrest finally gets past Ralston Valley, close to winning rare league championship

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Eaglecrest junior Kenny Wantings (27) gets to the edge of the Ralston Valley defense during the Raptors’ 38-21 Mount Wilson League football win over the Mustangs on Oct. 27, 2016, at the North Area Athletic Complex. Wantings piled up 121 yards as Eaglecrest improved to 9-0 and moved into sole possession of first place in the league with a game left to play. (Photo courtesy Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

GOLDEN | After close losses to Ralston Valley in each of the past two seasons, the Eaglecrest football team struck back in the budding rivalry with a sizeable victory Thursday night.

The Raptors — who lost an overtime heartbreaker to the Mustangs in the 2014 Class 5A state playoffs and dropped a six-point decision in the 2015 season opener — led from start to finish at the North Area Athletic Complex on their way to a cathartic 38-21 win.

Coach Mike Schmitt’s Eaglecrest team finally got past Ralston Valley and the rewards are many, as the Raptors not only remained unbeaten at 9-0, but moved into sole possession of first place in the Mount Wilson Conference with one game remaining. A win over Arvada West in the regular season finale Nov. 3 would officially lock up the program’s first league championship since 1993, the year Eaglecrest won its first and only state championship.

Junior quarterback Jalen Mergerson had another big game with two touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns and junior Victor Garnes scored via catch and interception for the Raptors in their sixth win by 17 or more points.

Mergerson opened the scoring with 1 minute, 44 seconds, left in the first quarter with a touchdown pass to Corey Corbin in a game that was nip-and-tuck until the teams combine for 21 points in the final 2:14 of the opening half.

A 1-yard sneak by Mergerson gave Eaglecrest a 14-0 lead, but Ralston Valley (5-4, 3-1) needed just 1:21 to get on the scoreboard on a long touchdown pass from Salvetti D’Ascoli to Tyler Callaway.

Garnes answered by taking the ensuing kickoff back 99 yards for a score to give the Raptors momentum again.

Mergerson hit Garnes with a touchdown pass in the third quarter and broke off a 46 yard scoring run in the fourth, while junior Theryne Sandoval-Jimenez knocked through a 29-yard field goal as Eaglecrest was able to keep the Mustangs at arm’s length the rest of the way.

Junior Kenny Wantings rushed for a game-high 121 yards to help the Raptors keep the chains moving.

Eaglecrest wraps up the regular season at 7 p.m. Nov. 3 at Legacy Stadium against Arvada West, which is 6-2 overall and 2-1 in Mount Wilson play going into a game against Castle View on Friday.

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

EAGLECREST 38, RALSTON VALLEY 21

Score by quarters:

Eaglecrest           7    14    7    10    —    38

Ralston Valley    0     7    7      7    —    21

SCORING

First quarter

Eaglecrest — Corey Corbin 22 yard pass from Jalen Mergerson (Theryne Sandoval-Jimenez kick), 1:44

Second quarter

Eaglecrest — Mergerson 1 yard run (Sandoval-Jimenez kick), 2:14

Ralston Valley — Tyler Callaway 34 yard pass from Salvetti D’Ascoli (Ben Raybon kick), 0:53

Eaglecrest — Victor Garnes 99 yard kickoff return (Sandoval-Jimenez), 0:38

Third quarter

Eaglecrest — Garnes 15 yard pass from Mergerson (Sandoval-Jimenez kick), 9:28

Ralston Valley — Cade Peratt 17 yard pass from D’Ascoli (Raybon kick), 3:32

Fourth quarter

Eaglecrest — Sandoval-Jimenez 29 yard field goal, 9:35

Eaglecrest — Mergerson 46 yard run (Sandoval-Jimenez kick), 6:09

Ralston Valley — Callaway 28 yard pass from D’Ascoli (Raybon kick), 3:35

RUSHING

Eaglecrest: Kenny Wantings 19-121, Jalen Mergerson 10-65, Theryne Sandoval-Jimenez 1-19, Victor Garnes 1-14

Ralston Valley: Tyler Callaway 9-39, Shayne Whitmyer 14-38, Tyler Shannon 6-12, Kenton Hamel 2-5, Salvetti D’Ascoli 2-(minus 19)

PASSING

Eaglecrest: Mergerson 6-12, 56 yards, 2 touchdowns

Ralston Valley: D’Ascoli 17-28, 227 yards, 3 touchdowns

RECEIVING

Eaglecrest: Corey Corbin 3-30, Garnes 3-26

Ralston Valley: Callaway 5-69, Tyler Shannon 4-65, Cade Peratt 5-58, Jake Nishida 2-29, Jacob Tischler 1-12

— Statistics courtesy Dennis Pleuss, Jeffco Athletics