AURORA | Hinkley head football coach Jaron Cohen asked for a show of hands of his players who got called for penalties in Friday night’s Zero Week game against Vista PEAK.
About half of the arms in the Thunderbirds’ postgame huddle shot up, a reflection of a sloppy, but charged 50-27 season-opening victory for Cohen’s team at Aurora Public Schools Stadium.
Despite a rash of penalties on both sides — including an estimated 26 enforced in the first half alone — Hinkley forced seven turnovers and rode a four-touchdown pass performance from senior quarterback Austin Ruiz and strong performance along the lines to avenge a loss to the Bison on the same field nearly a year ago to the day.
“We were itching for a game and I think our kids came out a little too hyped up,” said Cohen, who coached his first game at Hinkley after coming from Liberty in Colorado Springs.
“The penalties are unacceptable, and they know that. I was really disappointed in that, but we’ll clean it up. It’s good to have correctable mental stuff and I was proud of how our guys competed, especially our offensive line.”
Ruiz threw a pair of touchdown passes to Jerry Demesvar in the first quarter, hit Chance Drake for a score in the second period and hooked up with Bryson Compton on another TD pass in the third period as part of a 135-yard passing game for Hinkley.
Running behind a physical offensive line, Brandon Compton rushed for 123 yards and had touchdown runs of 12 and 7 yards and brother Bryson also scored, as did defensive back Kenneth Powell, who returned an interception 33 yards to the end zone.
Coach Pat Rock saw a much different story than he had last season, when his young Vista PEAK team downed Hinkley 20-14 in its first-ever varsity football game.
The Bison were plagued by turnovers and penalties and also saw a much more explosive group of Thunderbirds than the previous year.
Vista PEAK quarterback Noah Butler was intercepted three times by the Hinkley defense, but did damage with his legs and finished with a rushing and passing touchdown.
Backup QB Adam Puehler caught a TD pass from Butler, then hit Isaiah Young with a 45-yard strike in the fourth quarter to round out Vista PEAK’s offensive highlights.
HINKLEY 50, VISTA PEAK 27
Score by quarters:
Vista PEAK 0 7 13 7 — 27
Hinkley 12 14 16 8 — 50
Hinkley — Jerry Demesvar 23 yard pass from Austin Ruiz (kick failed), 8:38
Hinkley — Demesvar 27 yard pass from Ruiz (kick failed), 5:04
Hinkley — Chance Drake 24 yard pass from Ruiz (Reggie Lopez run), 10:52
Hinkley — Brandon Compton 12 yard run (run failed), 8:37
Vista PEAK — Noah Butler 1 yard run (Nathon Miller kick), 1:09
Vista PEAK — Ayo Sanusi 10 yard pass from Butler (kick blocked), 9:18
Hinkley — Bryson Compton 8 yard pass from Ruiz (Lopez run), 6:26
Hinkley — Kenneth Powell 33 yard interception return (Brandon Compton run), 5:01
Vista PEAK — Adam Puehler 11 yard pass from Butler (Miller kick), 1:51
Hinkley — Brandon Compton 7 yard run (Brandon Compton run), 9:30
Vista PEAK — Isaiah Young 45 yard pass from Puehler (Young kick), 3:20
Vista PEAK: Noah Butler 24-122, Nathon Miller 6-17, Christopher Mitchell 5-10, Ayo Sanusi 7-(minus 1), Adam Puehler 2-(minus 12)
Hinkley: Brandon Compton 19-123, Austin Ruiz 12-42, Reggie Lopez 7-26, Dante Richardson 7-22, Daveion Oliver 2-7, Bryson Compton 1-5, Noah Jones 1-1
Vista PEAK: Butler 10-24, 106 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions; Puehler 2-5, 68 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
Hinkley: Ruiz 8-18 135 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception; Eman McNeil 0-0
Vista PEAK: Isaiah Young 5-112, Sanusi 2-29, D.J. Ortiz 3-28, Puehler 2-5
Hinkley: Jerry Demesvar 2-50, Chance Drake 2-42, Bryson Compton 3-26, Richardson 1-17