If it weren't for the head starts the Mead football team so generously provided Lewis-Palmer's offense, Friday night's season opener may well have turned out differently.
As it played out, it was a short-field heyday for the Rangers, who parlayed their good fortune into a 50-35 road victory.
Thanks to long kickoff returns, a fumble and a 2-yard punt by Mead, Lewis-Palmer needed to go just 50, 33, 42 and 27 yards for four of its touchdown drives, while the Mavericks had considerably more work to do for their scores, driving 80 yards on two occasions to go along with 92, 69 and 75 yards.
Moving the ball on offense and scoring points certainly weren't issues for Mead. The Mavericks lost despite racking up 559 yards of total offense, including 417 rushing. Nathan Mackey ran for 132 yards, Tyler Keys for 126 and Gino Musick for 91. And Riley Glynn threw for 142 yards.
But giving up 50 points is tough to overcome.
"We've got some kids who are ready to battle," said MHS coach Jason Klatt, whose Mavericks are coming off an 8-3 season and their first playoff appearance. "I was proud of the way they kept fighting and hanging in there. But we have a lot to learn. We got shoved around a lot up front.
"We have to figure out how to play blue-collar hard-nosed defense, and on offense we've got to get off the ball and block people for four quarters."
Mead got off to a solid enough start, scoring on its first possession — thanks largely to a 66-yard pass from Glynn to Dominic Esters — and were leading 14-7 early in the second quarter. Both those drives were capped by TD runs from Musick — covering 3 and 8 yards. Musick later added a 12-yard TD run.
But with Lewis-Palmer taking advantage of its field position, it ran off the next 29 points to put the Mavericks in a deep hole at 36-14 in the middle of the third quarter.
However, Mead did bounce back with TD drives of 92 and 69 yards. But just when the Mavericks looked like they had a chance at 36-28, they gave up a quick score. On the first play from scrimmage, Charley Young broke through the middle for a 56-yard TD run with 9:57 left in the contest. Young racked up rushing touchdowns of 9, 56 and 17 yards in the second half.
"The bottom line is they blocked us better than we blocked them and they tackled us better than we tackled them," Klatt said. "They got off the ball and blocked us and we didn't have an answer for them.
"We'll get better. We'll learn from here."
Both teams are coming off winning seasons -- Lewis-Palmer went 7-4 -- and first-round losses in the 3A playoffs.
Next up for Mead is a Thursday night contest against Vista Peak Prep at Aurora Public Schools Stadium.
Lewis-Palmer 50, Mead 35
At MeadLewis-Palmer 7 15 14 14 — 50
Mead — Musick 3 run (Kamigaki kick).LP — Ward 20 run (Fitzgerald kick).
Mead — Musick 3 run (Kamigaki kick). LP — Chea 11 run (Fitzgerald kick). LP — Chea 31 run (Young run).
LP — Chea 45 run (Fitzgerald kick). LP — Young 9 run (Fitzgerald kick). Mead — Edwards 9 pass from Glynn (Kamigaki kick).
Mead — Musick 12 run (Kamigaki kick). PL — Young 56 run (Fitzgerald kick). Mead — Keys 7 run (Kamigaki kick). LP — Young 17 run (Fitzgerald kick).
RUSHING — LP: Chea 20-171, Young 12-148, Ward 9-45, Tims 4-19, Watts 1-13, Mead: Mackey 17-132, Keys 16-126, Musick 15-91, Glynn 11-68
PASSING — LP: Tims 7-10-0-77. Mead: Glynn 10-16-0-142, Keys 1-1-0-26.
RECEIVING — LP: Young 3-20, Bailey 2-38, Watts 1-11, Chon 1-8. Mead: Esters 5-116, Edwards 2-19, Langridge 1-12, Keys 1-10, Musick 1-7, Angus 1-4.