DENVER — Sparkling-recruit Kyle Helbig left the game with an injury midway through the second quarter of Holy Family's game against Denver North on Saturday afternoon and did not return.
Without him, the Tigers rallied around their hobbled star.
Ben Nappe and Jake Alderman each had interceptions coming out of the half and the defense marveled on a stout four-down stand backed inside its own 1 as Holy Family beat the Vikings 40-7 on a cool Denver day at All City Stadium.
Helbig, the three-star tight end recruit by Rivals and 247Sports, was injured after a 34-yard run with 6:30 left in the second. At the end of the run, the senior do-everything player for the Tigers was tackled from behind and came up limping.
As he gingerly walked back onto the field following the half, he called his team over to huddle up.
"Said just stay positive, next man up," said Helbig, who called his leg injury minor. "Just come out firing in the second half and get the big win."
His team listened in full.
Holy Family (5-1, 1-0 3A Northern Metro) shut out Denver North (4-2, 0-1) in the second half on the strength the two picks and the brick-wall defensive stand inside the 1-yard line on the first three drives of the third quarter.
After Trevin Johnson's 12-yard TD run put the Tigers ahead 19-7 in the opening minutes of the second half, Vikings speedy back Ricky Allarid ran 79 yards before he was pushed out a few feet from the goal line. Four plays of nothing later, Will Anderson crashed through the middle of the line to wrap up Allarid, sending the Holy Family sideline into a frenzy.
"It sucks to lose Kyle, I know it may be only for just one week," Anderson said. "We saw him go down and we knew we just got to step up."
Braedon Peters broke away for an 83-yard TD run to make it 26-7 less than two minutes later. Johnson added his second rushing TD of the half with 7:30 remaining and Sebastian Dalton added another in the waning minutes.
Helbig, who cheered his team along the sideline in the second half, threw for 109 yards and rushed for 47 yards and a score before departing. His costly run led to Liam Gray's second field goal of the half to put the Tigers up 13-7.
Holy Family coach Mike Gabriel and Helbig were both optimistic that the senior would return next week for Frederick.
"I got a little cramp in the back of my leg but I'm good," Helbig said.
Holy Family's first two drives stalled in the red zone and Gray hit a 31-yard field goal and missed from 35 yards. The Tigers were set up at the 18 after Johnny Russo intercepted Erik Flores on Denver North's opening drive but couldn't get a first down. On their second possession, they went 55 yards down the field but came up empty as Gray's kick sailed just wide.
Denver North took a 7-3 lead on its second possession when Keon Brickens got behind the defense and Flores found him for an 80-yard touchdown. But Holy Family answered on a three- play, 34-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard TD run by Helbig.
The Tigers improved to 5-1 for the first time since 2015.
"It's a real big deal, it's huge, especially coming off last year (going) 4-6," Alderman said. "Already having that fifth win is a huge motivator and I think all the guys know we have to keep trucking."
Brent W. New: , firstname.lastname@example.org and @brentwnew
Holy Family 40, Denver North 7
At All City StadiumHoly Family (5-1)1031314—40Denver North (4-2)7000—7
Holy Family — Liam Gray 31 field goal. Denver North — Keon Brickens 80 pass from Erik Flores (Joel Rosales-Castillo kick). Holy Family — Kyle Helbig 10 run (Gray kick).
Holy Family — Gray 20 field goal.
Holy Family — Trevin Johnson 12 run (no kick). Holy Family — Braedon Peters 83 run (Gray kick).
Holy Family — Johnson 26 run (Gray kick). Holy Family — Sebastian Dalton 10 run (Gray kick).
RUSHING — Holy Family: Trevin Johnson 19-106, Hayden Strange 9-38, Davis Martinek 7-3, Braedon Peters 4-122, Kyle Helbig 4-47, Sebastian Dalton 1-10. Denver North: Ricky Allarid 16-107, Erik Flores 6-(minus-18), Keon Brickens 2-12, Benaiah Aleman 1-7.
PASSING — Holy Family: Martinek 6-11-0-65, Helbig 7-17-0-109. Denver North: Flores 15-38-1-196.
RECEIVING — Holy Family: Peters 5-84, Taylor Jones 3-36, Ben Nappe 2-23, Josh Baker 1-16, Martinek 1-14, Johnson 1-1. Denver North: Vince Castillo 7-64, Brickens 4-117, Allarid 4-15.