Skyline's Nate Higgins is a picture of tranquility in a storm of chaos.
A 5-foot-11, 170-pound senior, Higgins has the ability to calmly dance down the line of scrimmage while huge lineman slam into each other all around him, patiently waiting for a hole to emerge before dashing up field.
And once that hole opens up, he has the speed and evasiveness to turn small spaces into big gains, chewing up large portions of real estate while rarely running entirely north/south.
Saturday afternoon at Everly-Montgomery Field, Higgins was at his best, accounting for 202 yards of offense as the Falcons held off a game Coronado squad 30-28 to improve to 2-0 on the young season.
"He's awesome," Skyline coach Mike Silva said about Higgins. "He's a competitor and he plays his (butt) off. There's no two ways about it. He's fun to watch."
Higgins was the workhouse for the Falcons (2-0) against the Cougars, carrying the ball 22 times in the second half, 11 of those in the fourth quarter on what turned out to be the game-winning and game-clinching drives.
"I just let the line do what they do," said Higgins, who ran for 194 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. "They get the blocks and then I find a little crease and I hit it. They were working hard up front today."
The line's work and Higgins' output allowed Skyline to equal the number of wins it produced in each of the last three seasons just two games in to the new campaign. It was a game that the Falcons probably would have lost during the previous three-year stretch as Coronado took a second-half lead and presented plenty of matchup problems for Skyline, particularly with their size at wide receiver.
The Cougars took advantage of poor kick coverage by the Falcons to work on short fields throughout the second half, and took a 21-17 lead on a 4-yard toss from quarterback Toby Smith to Justin Dwinnel with two minutes, 44 seconds left in the third quarter.
Skyline answered right back, however, going 63 yards in just seven plays to retake the lead. Higgins accounted for 62 of those yards, including a 32 yard run that brought the ball down to the 1 yard line.
Nick Groulx took it in from there, skating in untouched for his second score of the game to give the Falcons back the lead for good at 23-21 with 26 seconds left in the third.
After Tristan Balfour broke up a fourth down pass to Dwinnel to give Skyline the ball back at their own 34, the Falcons put together a long 13 play drive that ate more than five minutes off the clock and made it a two possession game.
Caleb Zietlow scored on a 8-yard jet sweep to give the Falcons a 30-21 lead with 4:04 left.
Coronado immediately struck back, getting a 55 yard touchdown pass from Smith to Raiden Mares that cut the lead to 30-28 with 3:05 left, but Nate McGregor recovered the ensuing onside kick and Skyline was able pick up a couple of first downs and run out the remainder of the clock to secure the win.
"We found a way to win when adversity came our way," Silva said. "I don't think we played great, but I felt like we found a way to win and that's changing the culture in itself right there."
Higgins, who has been in the Falcons program since his freshman year, said he definitely feels a difference with the team under Silva, who is in his second year as head coach. While others may still doubt that the team is for real, Higgins said the locker room believes, and they intend to go out and prove the doubters wrong.
"We want to get better, we watch film and we prepare," said Higgins, who also came up with several big plays on defense for Skyline. "We just want to take it week by week and get those wins. We work in practice and we work hard. That's how we were able to get this win in the second half and we were able to finish the team off."
Quarterback Ben Harris finished with 116 yards on 15 of 20 passing, and Jack Wathen had seven receptions for 55 yards.
The Falcons next travel to Five Star Stadium in Thornton to take on the Trojans (1-2) next Friday at 7 p.m. Thornton was outscored 48-3 in its first two games, both losses, but pounded Hinkley 47-6 Friday to pick up its first win of the year.
"(Coronado) was a good building block," Higgins said. "We're going to look to fix those mistakes we had this game and then move on to Thornton."
John Rosa: 303-473-1315, firstname.lastname@example.org
Skyline 30, Coronado 28
At Everly-MontgomeryCoronado (0-2) 6 8 7 7 — 28
Skyline (2-0) 7 7 9 7 — 30
Skyline — Nate Higgins 5 run (Nate McGregor kick). Coronado — Jordan Evans 4 run (kick fail).
Coronado — Tyler Clark 1 run (Deegan Foster pass from Toby Smith). Skyline — Nick Groulx 14 run (McGregor kick).
Skyline — McGregor 23 field goal. Coronado — Justin Dwinnel 4 pass from Smith (Julian Hogan kick). Skyline — Groulx 1 run (kick fail).
Skyline — Caleb Zietlow 8 run (McGregor kick). Coronado — Raiden Mares 55 pass from Smith (Hogan kick).
RUSHING — Coronado: Jordan Evans 19-90, Tyler Clark 5-39, Deegan Foster 3-9, Toby Smith 2-(minus) 13. Skyline: Nate Higgins 31-194, Nick Groulx 3-17, Caleb Zietlow 1-8, Ben Harris 4-2, Kyle West 1-1.
PASSING — Coronado: Smith 10-20-0-198. Skyline: Harris 15-20-2-116.
RECEIVING — Coronado: Justin Dwinnel 7-122, Raiden Mares 3-76.Skyline: Jack Wathen 7-55, West 4-31, Zietlow 1-9, Hunter Gutierrez 1-8, Higgins 1-8, Braden Kram 1-5.