DENVER | Most 3-1 prep football teams are happy and Regis Jesuit is among them, though for a few different reasons.
What pleases the Raiders even more is that they believe they have much better football ahead of them, yet they enter league play with only one blemish — an opening loss to Class 5A No. 1 Cherry Creek — after an uneven 29-14 victory over Denver South Friday afternoon at All-City Stadium.
Alec Barnes rushed for two touchdowns, Alfred Jones got one on the ground and Quentin Birch caught a score and Regis Jesuit’s defense did enough to contain a speedy Rebels offense to win a contest marred by repeated penalties on both sides of the football. Coach Danny Filleman’s Raiders — ranked No. 6 in the latest 5A Associated Press media poll — improved to 3-1 overall ahead of Continental North League play, the same spot they were in last season when they ran the table.
“It was sloppy, but an ugly win is a win, so it’s good to walk out of here with at least a ‘W,'” said Barnes, who finished with 92 yards rushing.
“Pulling out two wins against teams like Cherokee Trail and Mullen and another against South when we’re not playing our best ball yet, it’s scary to think about what will happen when we put together a full game.
“But so far, so good. You can’t complain about three wins.”
In a game that had little to no rhythm due to the excessive amounts of flags thrown — several of which resulted in an incredible 4th-and-70 situation for Denver South (2-2) late in the first quarter — big plays made the difference.
After standout senior linebacker and special teams ace Drew Schlegel blocked a Denver South punt out of the end zone for a safety and Barnes cashed in the ensuing possession with a short touchdown run, Regis Jesuit’s next three scores each traveled more than 35 yards.
Early in the second quarter, Birch turned a short swing pass from Michael Pavlakovich into a 61-yard score when he broke a tackle in the flat and used his blocking to reach the end zone.
“All credit goes to Jack Weigand on that block,” Birch said, crediting his fellow junior wide receiver, who took Denver South defensive back Dre’mond Griffin out of the play to clear the way.
“We drew it up and we saw it on the sideline, so we perfected the play.”
Barnes added a 35-yard jaunt to the end zone just a few minutes later as the Raiders’ lead crested at 23-0 before Rebels quarterback Amon Wright hooked up with James Hardy on a 36-yard bomb in the back of the end zone.
Regis Jesuit had the perfect answer less than a minute later when Jones took a toss and sprinted 89 yards up the left sideline into the end zone.
“First half, I thought we looked good on offense,” Filleman said. “Second half, we have to learn how to finish ballgames.”
Barnes said the Rebels’ activity on the defensive line — which included 6-foot-6, 260-pound University of Colorado commitment Teriek Roberts — caused some trouble in the second half for Regis Jesuit, which got shut out and generated just three first downs, one by penalty.
But the Raiders’ defense was up to the task again, as the unit mostly contained Denver South aside from Hardy, who turned a short pass into an 86-yard touchdown in the third quarter for the only points for either team in the second half.
Denver South receivers dropped a few more chances for big plays and the Raiders’ Davis McDonald ended the Rebels’ comeback hopes with an interception in the closing minutes.
All in all an effort that Regis Jesuit felt only showed a glimpse of what its capable of.
“We know we have all the potential in the world, we just have to do it,” said senior defensive lineman Ace Escobedo. “When we play the way we can play, noone can hang with us, but it’s the little things we have to work on.”
Regis Jesuit moves on to play undefeated Rock Canyon (4-0) at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 at Lou Kellogg Stadium. The Raiders topped the Jaguars 48-14 last season.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
REGIS JESUIT 29, DENVER SOUTH 14
Score by quarters:
Regis Jesuit 9 20 0 0 — 29
Denver South 0 7 7 0 — 14
Regis Jesuit — Safety, Drew Schlegel blocked punt out of end zone, 9:27
Regis Jesuit — Alec Barnes 10 yard run (George Maguire kick), 6:56
Regis Jesuit — Quentin Birch 61 yard pass from Michael Pavlakovich (run failed), 8:30
Regis Jesuit — Barnes 35 yard run (Pavlakovich run), 3:15
Denver South — James Hardy 36 yard pass from Amon Wright (Zach Cheiko kick), 2:47
Regis Jesuit — Alfred Jones 89 yard run (kick failed), 1:55
Denver South — Hardy 86 yard pass from Wright (Cheiko kick), 2:00