It's pretty rare for a freshman to make a major impact on a varsity football team, especially a team with state title aspirations.
It's even rarer when that freshman does it at what is arguably the most important position on the field — quarterback. But that's been the case for two BoCoPreps area teams this fall, the Longmont Trojans and Holy Family. And in the case of the Tigers, it could be the determining factor in how far they go in the postseason.
When Longmont starting quarterback David Speidel went down with a separated shoulder early in a Week 7 showdown with Windsor, the Trojans turned to freshman Oakley Dehning. And while it took him a little time to find a rhythm, all Dehning did was lead Longmont on a last-second, game-winning drive to knock off the Wizards, and then to a pair of victories to keep the team undefeated at 9-0.
Dehning started the regular season finale for the Trojans, but left with an injury and was replaced under center by Speidel, who appears ready to take the reins the rest of the way for Longmont. But Dehning's play was crucial in keeping the Trojans undefeated and helped them earn the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, which sets them up for a possible rematch with defending champion Pine Creek in the title game.
The situation at Holy Family is different in that the Tigers will be relying on their freshman quarterback, Stone Samaras, to guide the team through the 3A postseason.
Samaras was called into action in a Week 9 victory over Mead when Chris Helbig, Holy Family's record-setting senior QB, went down with a season-ending knee injury. He helped the Tigers hold off the Mavericks by completing 6 of 11 passing attempts for 196 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
The real test came last week when Samaras had his first start in a must-win game against Northridge. And Samaras was more than up for the challenge, throwing for 372 yards and five scores in a 56-28 rout.
How Samaras will hold up under the pressure of the playoffs remains to be seen. With Helbig under center, Holy Family was a legitimate threat to beat any team in front of them and win a state title. With Samaras taking snaps, the Tigers are more of a wild card. But one thing is for certain, they have a quarterback they can build around for the next several seasons.
Longmont's McKinney honored
Megan McKinney, a senior on the Longmont volleyball team, was recently named the IBM High School Hero of the Week by CHSAA for the week of Nov. 6.
The award recognizes students who not only excel in activities, but also in the classroom.
McKinney was nominated by Longmont athletic director Jeremy Brumeister and the honor was announced Sunday during the Denver Broncos game on KOA Radio.
McKinney is a right side hitter on the Trojans, who will be competing in the Class 4A state tournament this weekend at the Denver Coliseum. Her performance this season is remarkable considering she battled a life-threatening blood clot over the summer due to a condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome.
McKinney had to have one of her ribs surgically removed, and her playing career was in serious doubt. But she battled back, and is second on the team with 156 kills this season.
McKinney will be recognized with all the other winners of the award at a banquet at Sports Authority Field in March.
Centaurus misses out on 3A playoffs
When the final wild card points came out this past weekend Centaurus found itself on the outside looking in at the Class 3A playoffs.
The Warriors entered the final week of the regular season 18th in wild card points, two spots out of the 16-team playoff field. Centaurus needed to beat Thomas Jefferson in the finale and then hope for some help to get in the postseason.
The Warriors took care of their end, knocking off the Spartans 29-15, but it wasn't enough to move them up, as they remained in 18th place and just outside of the postseason picture.
A couple of things happened to keep the Warriors on the sidelines. Harrison, which entered Week 9 in 19th place, jumped up three spots to grab the last playoff spot after pounding Lewis-Palmer, a team that was ninth in wild card points, 36-14.
And Canon City forfeited its regular season finale to Discovery Canyon after a sexting scandal involving numerous students, including football players, came to light.
It's hard to measure the impact that the forfeit had in determining the playoff field, but Discovery Canyon finished 14th in wild card points after getting the win. Canon City would have entered the game as one of the hotter teams around, having won three straight including a big win over Harrison in Week 7.
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