BOULDER — The phrase “moral victory” is not one uttered out of the mouth of Boulder football coach Bob Simmons.
Simmons is as old-school as they come, a fervent believer in the idea that results are measured in the quality of play and the numbers on the scoreboard.
And so, in the wake of his program’s 10th loss in 11 games against their heated rivals from Fairview, Simmons was the first to point out the slew of penalties and mental mistakes that led to the Panthers’ 41-10 loss at Recht Field.
Yet make no mistake — this is a Boulder squad that has improved by leaps and bounds from the one that simply had no chance against Fairview at the end of the 2013 regular season. The Panthers forced turnovers, moved the ball capably, and at times made things difficult for the vaunted Fairview offense.
Such things seemed a distant dream during the 69-3 drubbing Boulder absorbed at the hands of their state-ranked rivals roughly 11 months ago.
“I can compare it, because (Fairview) had a running clock last year,” Simmons said. “That’s the big comparison. We won the turnover battle but gave up a special teams blocked punt. And those are the things we have to get rid of. Youth is a big part of it, but mental toughness is a bigger part of it. We’ve got to find a way to be mentally tough.”
Playing without starting quarterback Malcolm Patterson, who couldn’t shake the effects of a bout with mono in time to line up under center, Boulder’s offense was somewhat hamstrung, though sophomore Aiden Chandler appeared to settle in as the game wore on.
Nevertheless, Simmons admitted his club “couldn’t have scripted” a better start when senior Anes Balic intercepted a deflected pass from Fairview’s Johnny Feauto on the first play of the game. Yet after setting up a first-and-goal at the Fairview 5-yard line, successive penalties (a delay of game and false start) turned the situation into a first-and-goal from the 15.
Boulder settled for a field goal, and while punching in a touchdown during the sequence may not have ultimately altered the end result, it certainly illustrated the strides the Panthers still have to make.
“The bottom line is we’ve got to stop beating ourselves,” Simmons said. “I told the kids that in the two ball games … we find a way not to make plays. We started off the game tremendous. But at the same time, we’ve got to find ways to put points on the board.
“We’re still young. Give (Feauto) credit — he was running all over the place, but we’re not athletic enough to tackle him. That was the frustrating part of watching this ball game.”
Boulder moved to the 5A Flatirons League this season in hopes of establishing a better competitive base against programs with a similar pedigree. The final score aside, Saturday’s outcome against Fairview showed the Panthers should be more than capable of competing on a weekly basis when league play begins Friday at Thornton.
With Patterson expected back in the lineup, Boulder also boasts a burgeoning all-around star in junior TJ Jones. In addition to delivering an array of bone-rattling hits on defense, Jones rushed for 90 yards on 23 carries and showed off some nifty moves on kickoff returns, displaying the sort of shiftiness and burst that likely will lead to a special teams touchdown or two before 2014 is complete.
Senior Collin Heimbach hauled in a 78-yard pass to set up a short touchdown by Jones. And while the Panthers definitely had trouble corralling Feauto, Boulder’s defense did keep the Fairview quarterback on the run while forcing four turnovers.
If Boulder can maintain that sort of effort while eliminating the untimely penalties, the Panthers should acquit themselves well in the Flatirons League.
“Our fight today was really, really good. The best I’ve seen in the four years I’ve been here,” Heimbach said. “We just kind of shot ourselves in the foot. I’m feeling really confident and next week is a big game for us. We’ve just got to clean up some of the little things.”
Follow Pat on Twitter: twitter.com/prooney07
Fairview 41, Boulder 10
At Recht Field
Fairview (2-0) 6 28 7 0 — 41
Boulder (0-2) 3 7 0 0 — 10
Boulder — Ismael Bouchta 22 FG. Fairview — Connor May 15 pass from Johnny Feauto (kick failed).
Fairview — Carlo Kemp 1 run (Raul Magno kick). Fairview — Kemp 1 run (Magno kick). Fairview — Feauto 4 run (Magno kick). Fairview — Steven Maisnik recovered blocked punt in end zone (Magno kick). Boulder — T.J. Jones 1 run (Bouchta kick).
Fairiview — Kemp 4 run (Magno kick).
RUSHING — Fairview: Kemp 12-88, Feauto 10-50, Meyer 8-58, Ryan 1-5, Creese 2-(minus 1). Boulder: Jones 23-90, Relkin 2-(minus 6), Chandler 9-(minus 13).
PASSING — Fairview: Feauto 18-28-1-258, Creese 3-3-0-13. Boulder: Chandler 5-13-0-88.
RECEIVING — Fairview: Ryan 5-95, Meyer 6-57, May 3-48, D’Epagnier 3-25, Wakefield 2-25, McWilliams 2-21. Boulder: Heimbach 2-78, Taft 2-10, Jones 1-0.