FREDERICK -- Through one half of play against winless Berthoud, Thursday night looked to be another difficult evening for the Warriors offense.
But a few minor adjustments and some big plays from tailback Jacob Sleeth, the sixth-ranked Warriors (2-1) ran away with a 41-14 win at home. After starting the season ranked No. 1 in 3A and scoring just 20 total points in their first two games, the offensive outburst relieved a ton of mounting pressure.
"Finally, we got a big win. That's huge for us," Sleeth said. "We needed that motivation."
Sleeth said the Warriors wanted to pound the ball between the tackles in the first half. But though undersized, the young Berthoud Spartans (0-3) stacked the box and blitzed relentlessly to plug the holes.
The Warriors led just 14-7 at halftime after turning the ball over three times in the first half. They took a different tact in the second half.
"We were trying to run between the tackles and they were blitzing so we started running off-tackle," said Sleeth, who amassed 100 yards in the third quarter and sat out the fourth. "It opened up and our line did a great job blocking."
Sleeth finished the game with 144 yards, his third 100-plus rushing performance, and three touchdowns. Senior fullback Ryan Miller added 97 yards of his own on just 10 carries. Overall, the Warriors racked up 355 yards on the ground.
The Warriors had particular running success to the left side behind senior tackle Austin Salazar.
"I told the coaches I was planting my guy in the ground every play and if they run it off back, we're gonna score," Salazar said. "We came out in the second half and we scored three touchdowns right away."
The passing game, in particular some big plays from wide receiver Joe Wise, carried the Warriors offense in the first half. He caught three passes for 75 yards in the first half, most of which he gained with his feet.
The passing game's first-half success, aided by both quarterback Jaron Balman (4-for-10 for 80 yards) and Michael Broz (2-for-3 for 40 yards), took pressure off the running game in the second.
Stout as usual, the Warriors defense held the Spartans to 101 yards of total offense and sacked freshman quarterback Cody Braesch five times. Sophomore linebacker Jordan DeFalco had two of them.
"Our defense is always phenomenal. It's never a question," senior linebacker Jakob Vargas said. "We just fly around and have fun and we're a physical team."
The win helped the Warriors get back on track after a tough 15-13 road loss to Pueblo East last week. The Warriors will look to continue down the winning path on the road against Roosevelt (1-2) next week.
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FREDERICK 41, BERTHOUD 14
At Frederick H.S.
Berthoud (0-3, 0-0) 0 7 0 7 -- 14
Frederick (2-1, 0-0) 7 7 14 13 -- 41
Frederick -- Jaron Balman 1 run (Jose Rosales kick).
Berthoud -- Alexander Kingsley 32 pass from Cody Braesch (Ryan DeMoudt kick).
Frederick -- Jacob Sleeth 8 run (Rosales kick).
Frederick -- Sleeth 46 run (Rosales kick).
Frederick -- Sleeth 34 run (Rosales kick).
Frederick -- Ryan Miller 2 run (Rosales kick).
Frederick -- Xavier Lindberg 45 run (Rosales kick).
Berthoud -- Beck Baird 63 pass from Braesch (kick no good).
First downs 3 15
Rushes-yards 49-355 30-(-8)
Passing yards 109 120
Comp-Att-Int 7-19-1 6-13-2
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 4-1
Penalties-Yards 3-30 10-115
RUSHING -- Berthoud: James Fate 12-12, Cody Braesch 11- (-30), Nathaniel Ryken 2- (-2), Caleb Price 5-12; Frederick: Jacob Sleeth 12-144, Jaron Balman 12-42, K.C. Rivera 2-11, Zach Gomez 4-4, Michael Broz 2-22, Ryan Miller 10-97, Dylan Martin 2-0, Tyler Colaino 1-1, Mitchell Held 3-23, Zach Mancha 1-11.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) -- Berthoud: Braesch 7-19-1, 109 yards; Frederick: Balman 4-10-2, 80 yards, Broz 2-3-0, 40 yards.
RECEIVING -- Berthoud: Alexander Kingsley 3-38, Ryken 1-5, Ryan DeMoudt 2-3, Beck Baird 1-63; Frederick: Rivera 2-27, Joe Wise 3-75, Miller 1-18.