Smoky Hill head football coach Tom Thenell raises his arms in celebration in the closing seconds of the Buffaloes’ 35-28 win over Westminster on Oct. 26, 2018, at Stutler Bowl. Smoky Hill’s victory completed a 10-0 regular season, brought the Metro 10 championship and a berth in the Class 5A state playoffs for a program that won one game last season. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel)

GREENWOOD VILLAGE | The final chapter hasn’t been written yet for the 2018 Smoky Hill football team, but the Buffaloes’ storybook season is a definitely page-turner.

Smoky Hill’s turnaround under new head coach Tom Thenell reached another level Friday night at Stutler Bowl with a hard-fought 35-28 victory over Westminster that earned the undefeated Buffaloes their first league championship since 1980.

With Cherry Creek’s double-overtime loss to Grandview, Smoky Hill is one of only three teams (Columbine and Valor Christian are the others) to finish the regular season 10-0 and the Metro 10 crown brings with it the program’s first state playoff berth in more than a decade.

Sophomore quarterback Leslie Richardson III connected with junior Kaleb Starling on two touchdown passes and hit sophomore Alec Pinkowski with another TD toss in the second half as the Buffaloes had just enough firepower to outlast the Wolves.

Pinkowski and junior Obie Sanni scored touchdowns for Smoky Hill in the opening half, but Westminster answered each score to send the game into halftime tied at 14-14.

A 56-yard bomb from Richardson to Starling put the Buffaloes ahead for good with 8 minutes, 31 seconds, left in the third quarter.

Smoky Hill will find out its playoff position when the 5A state brackets are released by the Colorado High School Activities Association on Sunday.

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


Score by quarters:

Westminster  0  14  0  14 — 28

Smoky Hill     7    7  7  14 — 35


First quarter

Smoky Hill — Obie Sanni 17 yard run (Elisha Brown kick), 3:51

Second quarter

Smoky Hill — Alec Pinkowski 26 yard pass from Leslie Richardson III (Brown kick), 4:25

Third quarter

Smoky Hill — Kaleb Starling 56 yard pass from Richardson III (Brown kick)

Fourth quarter

Smoky Hill — Starling 44 yard pass from Richardson III (Brown kick)

Smoky Hill — Pinkowski 54 yard pass from Richardson III (Brown kick)