GREELEY — There were a lot of questions running through the heads of the Holy Family faithful when they watched their star quarterback Chris Helbig limp off the field last week with a season-ending knee injury.
At the top of that list was what could they expect from freshman back-up Stone Samaras?
The young man, who is considered the Tigers quarterback of the future, answered a lot of those questions on Thursday night at District 6 Stadium against Northridge.
"We haven't really looked much past this year, we are really trying not to look forward and we are going to do our best to make a run in the playoffs here," Holy Family coach Mike Gabriel said. "We know that there are going to be plays here and there where he is going to make mistakes, but he has kids around him who pick him up and we've got some talent around him.
"My offensive staff does a heck of a job with all our kids."
Sure he made freshman mistakes, but he played with the savvy of a seasoned upperclassman in the Tigers' season finale against the Grizzlies. He threw five touchdown passes in a 56-28 rout and kept Holy Family in prime position for a home playoff game next week in the Class 3A state playoffs.
"It has been a really tough week and I have had a lot to learn and coming in last week was a surprise to me," said Samaras, who threw for a Chris Helbig-like 372 yards on Thursday night. "We all looked up to Chris, but I have gotten unbelievable support from everyone and I can't imagine a better team to do this with."
Holy Family (8-2 overall and 6-1 in the Northern League) will await their playoff fate on Sunday when the CHSAA reveals the state bracket. Northridge finishes the season 2-8 overall and 2-5 in league play.
The Tigers broke open a 14-14 first quarter game with a huge defensive play. Joey Golter picked off Grizzlies quarterback Chance Eben and went 56-yards for the score that put the Tigers up for good.
The second quarter belonged to Samaras and the Tigers offense. After Michael Zeman converted a fake punt at midfield, the Tigers drove into the red zone and Samaras hooked up with Golter for a 17-yard score.
After a hold on downs, which would also be a recurring them in the second quarter, the Tigers took advantage of a short field and went 51 yards in three plays with Samaras finding Bryce Buderus for a 31-yard touchdown.
"Even on the sidelines today (Chris) was helping me and telling me some of the things he saw and would do," Samaras said. "Just at things he would be looking at and it helped a lot."
Buderus, who was one of three Tigers pass catchers to finish with over 100 yards, also caught an 8-yard touchdown pass on the final play off the half to cap a 95-yard drive after the defense made a goal-line stand.
"(Stone) has the confidence and he has an heir about him and he can do it," said Gabriel about his quarterback ability to make a deep playoff push. "This is all they have talked about for 365 days, is that opportunity to get back there and get back after it."
Gabriel is not sure where his team will fall in the 16-team field, and will be watching closely tomorrow night when Delta and Palisade square off on the Western Slope.
Freshman Kyle Helbig caught five balls for 105 yards, Buderus had nine for 130 and Golter ended up with five for 106.
Holy Family 56, Northridge 28
At District 6 StadiumHoly Family (8-2, 6-1) 21 21 7 7 — 56
Northridge (2-8, 2-5) 14 0 7 7 — 28
Northridge — Isaiah Avalos 76 pass from Chance Eben (Kyla Beck kick).
Holy Family — Michael Zeman 37 run (Phillip Elliott kick).
Northridge — Avalos 30 run (Beck kick).
Holy Family — Zeman 7 pass from Stone Samaras (Elliott kick).
Holy Family — Joey Golter 56 interception return (Elliott kick).
Holy Family — Golter 17 pass from Samaras (Elliott kick).
Holy Family — Buderus 31 pass from Samaras (Elliott kick).
Holy Family — Buderus 8 pass from Samaras (Elliott kick).
Holy Family — Golter 41 pass from Samaras (Elliott kick).
Northridge — Kaylor Werner 10 pass from Eben (Beck kick).
Holy Family — Zeman 5 run (Elliott kick).
Northridge — Avalos 82 kickoff return (Beck kick).
RUSHING — Holy Family: Michael Zeman 24-200, Stone Samaras 11-27, Will Domier 4-44, Austin Callaway 4-11, Joe Geist 1-0. Northridge: Isaiah Avalos 24-118, Kaylor Werner 6-49, Manny Araujo 4-39, Alonzo Lopez 5-14, Chance Eben 4-(minus-14).
PASSING — Holy Family: Samaras 23-32-2-372, Geist 1-2-0-4. Northridge: Eben 10-28-1-112, Justin Frye 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — Holy Family: Bryce Buderus 9-130, Joey Golter 5-106, Kyle Helbig 5-105, Zeman 2-13, Brodie Wolfe 1-13, Enzo Elliott 1-4, Cade Carter 1-(minus-2). Northridge: Avalos 1-76, Werner 4-21, Frye 3-9, Colten Maupin 1-12, Araujo 1-(minus-6).