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Those slow starts for the Fairview High football team seem like such a distant memory.

After trailing early in each of their first three games, the Class 5A fourth-ranked Knights got the Homecoming celebration started early Friday in a 48-14 romp over the Poudre Impalas at Recht Field.

The high-octane Knights were potent on offense as usual. But for a squad that’s received most of its hype on that side of the ball in recent years, their defense and special teams were equally impressive. The D forced four turnovers, scored a touchdown and held Poudre to minus-9 yards rushing. Kicker Raul Magno, meanwhile, hit field goals from 38 and 27 yards, and boomed kickoff after kickoff through the end zone for touchbacks.

The Knights led 24-0 through one quarter and 27-0 before Poudre finally answered. A touchdown just before half made it 41-7 at the intermission.

“It was just execution,” FHS coach Tom McCartney said of the strong start. “That’s really what it comes down to. We had good execution in that first quarter, had some playmakers make plays and were able to get out to that lead.”

Fairview (4-0, 2-0 Front Range League) stayed unbeaten with the win, and continues to look like the team to beat in its return to the FRL.

Five different players scored touchdowns in the first half for FHS, none more impressive than the one by 6-foot-3, 250-pound junior defensive lineman Carlo Kemp.

Bearing down on Poudre quarterback James Campbell, Kemp leaped in the air as Campbell threw, smothered the ball fired from point-blank range, and rumbled 10 yards into the end zone to make it 24-0. The turnover was the second in two plays for Campbell, who’d fumbled on the drive before to set up a Magno field goal.

“All of the sudden the ball was in my hands and I was headed the other way,” said Kemp, who is receiving attention from several Division-I college programs. “It came so fast I was just happy it didn’t go right through (his hands).”

A Jordan Karels interception with 90 seconds before the half set up a Johnny Feauto touchdown pass to tight end Steve D’Epagnier for the big lead at the break.

Aside from one interception in the second half, Feauto was ultra-efficient. He completed 24 of 34 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns, including 244 yards in the first half. Five different receivers caught at least three passes each, with David McWilliams snaring seven for 78 yards and a score to lead the way. Connor May and Jason Harvey also hauled in scores, and Harvey rushed for one.

Poudre (2-2, 1-1), which had held its last two opponents to a combined two points, had no answer for the FHS offense, particularly Feauto’s ability to keep plays alive with his feet.

“We’ve seen him for three years now,” Poudre coach Marty McVicker said. “We’re excited to see him graduate. We could have sacked 90 percent of the quarterbacks we play but he finds ways to get out of it.”

As for the Fairview defense, the Knights were almost impenetrable in the first half. The only lapse came on three straight completions by Campbell to receiver Noah Redfern, the last a 37-yard scoring strike. Poudre tacked on another score late in the third quarter after the mercy-rule running clock had kicked in.

Campbell injured his arm just before halftime and didn’t return, but McVicker said he was held out for precautionary reasons and will be fine to play next week.

Defensive back Trevor Stern recovered a Poudre fumble in the first half to set up a Fairview field goal, and Karels added a second interception of his own in the fourth quarter.

The big night on defense proved satisfying for a Knights team that had given up an average of 22 points the first three games.

“(Defensive coordinator Aaron Hickman) was really hammering into us alignment and assignment,” Karels said. “If we’re where we’re supposed to be the ball will come our way and big things will happen.”

The victory gives Fairview plenty of momentum heading into a first-ever showdown with Monarch next Saturday in a matchup that’s sure to become a cross-county rivalry now that the Coyotes have moved up to Class 5A.

“Just like the Boulder rivalry, it’s the one we’ve been waiting for probably since Monarch started having (a successful program),” Kemp said. “It’s going to be fun to see who’s awake Saturday morning.”

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Fairview 48, Poudre 14

At Recht Field

Poudre (2-2, 1-1) 0 7 7 0 — 14

Fairview (4-0, 2-0) 24 17 7 0 — 48

First quarter

Fairview — Jason Harvey 12 run (Raul Magno kick). Fairview — David McWilliams 7 pass from Johnny Feauto (Magno kick). Fairview — Magno 38 field goal. Fairview — Carlo Kemp 10 interception return (Magno kick).

Second quarter

Fairview — Magno 27 field goal. Poudre — Noah Redfern 37 pass from James Campbell (Braxton Davis kick. Fairview — Connor May 11 pass from Feauto (Magno kick). Fairview — Steve D’Epagnier 2 pass from Feauto (Magno kick).

Third quarter

Fairview — Harvey 3 pass from Feauto (Magno kick). Poudre — Walbye 2 run (Davis kick).

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Poudre: Walbye 13-7, Campbell 5-0, Gaes 4-(-16); Fairview: Harvey 13-86, Feauto 3-25, Meyer 4-5, Wakefield 1-10, Ryan 1-(-3), McWilliams 1-2.

PASSING — Poudre: Cambpell 7-14-2-101; Gaes 3-14-1-100. Fairview: Feauto 24-34-1-281; Creese 1-4-0-8.

RECEIVING — Poudre: Redfern 4-150, Wooldridge 2-18, Olson 1-6, Rice 1-2, Walbye 1-0, Davis 1-25; Fairview: McWilliams 7-78, Ryan 6-106, D’Epagnier 4-39, Harvey 4-34, May 3-34, Sharp 1-8.