With the smoky skies already surrounding Recht Field on Friday night, it was hard to tell if Fairview quarterback Aidan Atkinson's arm added any hazy substance to the equation in the 55th edition of the Boulder-Fairview city rivalry game.
But with five touchdown passes of 33 yards or more in the first half alone against a Panthers team that was looking to get a better start under new head coach Ryan Bishop, Atkinson and his corps of wide receivers certainly brought some fire to the field in a 42-7 opening week victory.
Fairview as a whole might have some talking points this coming week — Boulder understandably more — but the junior, who is being looked at by Power 5 schools across the nation, showed a confidence that is going to be tough for any Class 5A team to deal with.
And, his receivers were as brilliant as perhaps Fairview has ever seen from top to bottom.
Matt Greenwald caught two touchdowns among his six receptions, and Ashton Nichols, Henry Blackburn and Bryce DesJardins each found the end zone to boot, all off darts from their quarterback.
Fairview led 14-0 after 2 minutes, 15 seconds had come off the scoreboard, and a spirited BHS team had to simply claw back as best it could in preparation for Metro 10 League play starting next week.
"Early on, I just think we had it going and were connecting well, and credit to Boulder for having a good defensive game plan in place," Atkinson said after throwing for 405 yards on just 16 completions and 30 attempts. "But we made adjustments, made our checks and guys came in and made plays for us.
"Overall, I thought we played pretty well but it's obvious we have stuff to work on."
With both teams having only scrimmage work under their belts so far this season, it was a bit of a different scenario for the rivalry as past league clashes against each other meant the squads were well seasoned by the time they met.
Fairview as a whole did not even look in mid-season form, with the run offense completely stymied by the hungry Panthers and Atkinson facing pressure quite often.
But the big-play capability was fruitful. Greenwald's two touchdowns, of 35 and 33 yards, respectively, were a matter of the senior getting past a lone defender out on the edge and hauling the ball down in the end zone. DesJardins thrives over the middle, and he scored on 49-yard catch and run in the first quarter after Boulder's first drive was snuffed out.
Atkinson said he loved the pace the team played with, while Bishop had to tip his cap at the precision that burned his defensive backfield.
"It's so much fun to go out with your brothers, and we put in a lot of hours in the offseason just for this, so to come in, play well, get the win in front of a great crowd, that's incredible," Atkinson said.
"Their skill players are the real deal, and he's a heck of a quarterback who's on his way somewhere big," Bishop said.
Boulder didn't get a first down until the second quarter after it was already 28-0, but the Panthers picked up some steam in the second half and finished strong. Boulder had an interception and recovered two fumbles, which could pave the way for points in future contests.
The Panthers rotated quarterbacks Hale Chargois and Preston Stansel through the game, and each showed the ability to scramble and extend plays. Meanwhile, A Shane Provost 1-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter provided Boulder with its only score.
Recht Field once again was a great atmosphere for the respective teams to start their seasons, and both coaches acknowledged that as well as the need to get better.
"We put this one behind us, and now we get a chance to go win our league which is next on that list of goals," Bishop said. "We get to have some fun trying to do that. Our defense is what we can build upon right now."
"Hats off to Boulder because they dialed up a lot of different pressures, and we had to constantly work on protections and (hot route work)," FHS coach Tom McCartney said. "We definitely will see things on film that we can coach up and do better."
Fairview 42, Boulder 7
At Recht FieldFairview 211470—42Boulder0007—7
Fairview — Matt Greenwald 35 pass from Aidan Atkinson (Henry Blackburn kick). Fairview — Bryce DesJardins 49 pass from Atkinson (Blackburn kick). Fairview — Greenwald 33 pass from Atkinson (Blackburn kick).
Fairview — Blackburn 16 pass from Atkinson (Blackburn kick). Fairview — Ashton Nichols 49 pass from Atkinson (Blackburn kick).
Fairview — DesJardins 2 run (Blackburn kick).
Boulder — Shane Provost 1 run (Brady Keuer kick).
RUSHING — Fairview: Jacob Fenton 6-7, Devynn Holly 5-8, Aidan Atkinson 5-7, Stephen O'Hara 1-(minus-2), Bryce DesJardins 1-2, Liam O'Brien 1(minus-9). Boulder: Shane Provost 7-20, Hale Chargois 14-(minus-2), Preston Stansel 2-25, Saul Escobar 2-(minus-3), Alvin Rodriguez 1-1, Parker Patchett 1-2
PASSING — Fairview: Atkinson 16-30-1-405. Boulder: Chargois 6-10-1-73, Stansel 1-9-0-69, Patchett 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING — Fairview: Matt Greenwald 6-119, Ashton Nichols 3-106, DesJardins 4-96, Henry Blackburn 2-63, Fenton 1-12. Boulder: Jackson Wyatt 1-69, Cade Travis 2-42, Drake Arthur 1-4, Patchett 1-13, Provost 1-10, Stansel 1-12.