BROOMFIELD — Jefferson Academy senior Brandon Leeper told his coach before Saturday's second-round game against Basalt in the Class 3A playoffs, that he wasn't sure he could go.
The taxing effect of games on back-to-back days — including a short turnaround time from Friday's nights game — and some aching knees put his availability in question.
Jaguars coach Matt Cassell simply reminded him that this could very well be the last time he stepped a competitive foot on their homefield.
That was the trick, and Leeper was an instrumental figure in the Jags 1-0 victory over the Longhorns that sent them to the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
"I let him know, he's a senior and this could be it," said Cassell, whose team will travel to Colorado Academy next Saturday. "I call him a truck sometimes, but he is pretty skilled, too."
After a strong defensive first half with the wind in their faces that limited the opportunities to the dangerous Basalt front runners, Cassell knew his boys that like to "knock it around," would be at a distinct advantage with the gusty winds at their backs.
"We are best when we attack and we just tried to get to the half," Cassell said."Once we got there, and we hoped the wind didn't die, I thought we were able to create some chances."
After not recording a single shot on goal in the first half, the Jags finally made it happen in the second.
And on their third corner kick opportunity, Jefferson Academy's A.J Arroyo sent a perfect ball across the face of Pablo Rivera's goal that he made a play on at his far post, but had it go through his outstretched hands.
Leeper never stopped his run and was able to shed his defenders to get a foot on the ball.
"It got to me and I just tried to get a foot up," said Leeper, who also scored on a direct free kick on Friday night in the Jags 3-1 first round win over William Smith. "Right place, right time."
The goal came in the 54th minute and the sense of urgency that many assumed would come from Basalt never materialized. The wind, combined with the Jags continuous pressure on Longhorns strong midfield.
Jefferson Academy goalie Eric Strauss, who was visibly upset after losing his clean sheet on Friday night, made five saves on Saturday afternoon.
JEFFERSON ACADEMY 1, BASALT 0
At Jefferson AcademyBasalt (11-6) 0 0 — 0 Jefferson Academy (14-3) 0 1 — 1
Goal (assist) — Jefferson Academy: Brandon Leeper (A.J. Arroyo), 54th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Basalt: Pablo Rivera (80-1-2); Jefferson Academy: Eric Strauss (80-0-5).