AURORA -- Ever the optimist, Anthony Emberley always believed the Silver Creek football team could take care of business on the sport's biggest stage. Emberley still believed this even after the game had just delivered the cruelest of setbacks.

On Dec. 3, 2011, Emberley and his Raptors teammates sulked off the field at Legacy Stadium on the heels of a heartbreaking 14-7 loss against Windsor in the Class 3A state title game. Even though the Raptors lost a decorated senior class from that squad, and even though a number of inexperienced underclassmen were going to be asked to fill key roles, Emberley never lost faith that Silver Creek not only could return to that stage, but would also claim the ultimate prize.

Silver Creek players hoist the Class 3A state championship trophy after beating Rifle on Saturday at Legacy Stadium in Aurora.
Silver Creek players hoist the Class 3A state championship trophy after beating Rifle on Saturday at Legacy Stadium in Aurora. ( Lewis Geyer )

On Saturday, the Raptors returned to Legacy Stadium and rewarded that faith.

Behind a turnover-free offense that received four touchdown passes from Ben Sjobakken and a defense that put the clamps on one of the state's top rushing attacks for the second consecutive week, Silver Creek claimed the school's first football state championship with a convincing 32-15 victory against top-seeded Rifle in the Class 3A finale.

"It's just an amazing feeling to be able to take that hurt from last year and put it into everything this year," Emberley said. "I consider myself pretty much an optimist, so on December 4th of last year I said, 'We can do it next year.' I believed the entire time. Maybe there was some doubt at some times. But at the end of the day we left no doubt on this field that we could do it. It's just so awesome."


From the opening snap, the Raptors perfectly executed a game plan that kept Rifle's prolific rushing attack in check by moving the chains on offense while swarming to the ball on defense.

Silver Creek (12-2) opened the game with a methodical 11-play, 80-yard drive that was directed masterfully by Sjobakken, who set the tone for his standout afternoon by going 6 for 7 for 78 yards. Senior Trey Fleming capped the march with the first of his two touchdown catches, making an acrobatic grab while keeping one foot inbounds in the corner of the end zone to give the Raptors a 7-0 lead.

Although Rifle running back Ryan Moeller answered with an 8-yard touchdown run on the Bears' opening drive, the blueprint was established for Silver Creek's memorable day.

"That was super-important, because they're a good team and we needed to come out and score points," said Sjobakken, who finished 20 for 28 for 237 yards and four touchdowns. "We put a lot of study into film this week. We put in a lot of hours. They did everything that we thought they were going to do, and we did everything we were coached to do. And we were able to get scores and win state."

A 50-yard field goal by Ryan Charles gave Silver Creek a 17-7 advantage at halftime, and a 7-yard toss from Sjobakken to Zane Lindsey extended the Raptors' lead to 26-7 midway through the third.

Silver Creek's defense finished the job from there. One week after limiting a Conifer rushing attack that had been averaging about 328 rushing yards to just 94 in a semifinal-round win, the Raptors made life extremely difficult for Rifle's Moeller and Kellin Leigh.

Although that duo still combined for 257 rushing yards, Rifle entered the game averaging 365.2 per game. Moeller, who led Class 3A in rushing and ranked second overall in the state, entered the title game averaging 11.1 yards per attempt and 219.8 yards a game. He needed 29 carries to amass 140 yards against Silver Creek's stalwart defense, an average of 4.8 yards per carry.

"They put up great numbers this entire season, but we knew what we had and we knew that our defense, when we play our best, is a force to be reckoned with," Raptors senior linebacker Michael Simboski said. "We knew if we did assignment football and played our hearts out, good things would happen."

Follow Pat on Twitter: @prooney07


At Legacy Stadium

Silver Creek (12-2) 7 10 9 6 -- 32

Rifle (13-1) 7 0 0 8 -- 15


First Quarter

Silver Creek -- Trey Fleming 10 pass from Ben Sjobakken (Ryan Charles kick).

Rifle -- Ryan Moeller 8 run (Marco Gutierrez kick).

Second Quarter

Silver Creek-- Eric Machmuller 10 pass from Sjobakken (Charles kick).

Silver Creek -- Charles 50 field goal.

Third Quarter

Silver Creek -- Charles 43 field goal.

Silver Creek -- Zane Lindsey 7 pass from Sjobakken (pass failed).

Fourth Quarter

Rifle -- Moeller 2 run (Kellin Leigh pass from Adam Rice).

Silver Creek -- Fleming 25 pass from Sjobakken (kick failed).


First downs 14 19

Rushes-yards 25-99 46-254

Passing yards 237 81

Comp-Att-Int 20-28-0 4-13-3

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1

Penalties-Yards 3-15 3-29


RUSHING -- Silver Creek: Josh Quiroz 17-86, Eric Machmuller 1-8, Anthony Emberley 1-3, Ben Sjobakken 5-2, James Whitmore 1-0; Rifle: Ryan Moeller 29-140, Kellin Leigh 14-117, Isaac Rider 3-(-3).

PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) -- Silver Creek: Sjobakken 20-28-0 237; Rifle: Adam Rice 4-12-2 81, Moeller 0-1-1 0.

RECEIVING -- Silver Creek: Trey Fleming 7-89, Zane Lindsey 6-71, Brock Ricks 6-67, Machmuller 1-10; Rifle: Aaron Wagler 4-81.