COMMERCE CITY — The season opener sometimes sets a tone for a team’s year, so it’s important to get it right. And when the game also marks the debut for a new head coach, it can be all the more pivotal.
By those standards, the Niwot football team faltered on Friday night at Adams City High School in a non-league contest. More specifically, the offense struggled as the Cougars fell 18-0 to the Eagles.
With Jeremy Lanter taking over the Niwot program — and being head coach for the first time — the Cougars had major issues with snapping the ball and couldn’t get anything going even when the exchange went properly. NHS lost three fumbles and managed just 74 yards of total offense.
“The snapping was a little bit of a concern for us, along with just letting the ball get on the ground,” said Lanter, who admitted he didn’t get much sleep this week leading up to his head coaching debut. “We’ve got to do a better job of making decisions. With that said, we’re in the first year of a brand-new offense. I think we’ll continue to get better on those things.”
Added Niwot senior Nate Nielson, who caught three passes and intercepted an Adams City throw: “The other team was chirping and it was getting in our heads, and (the offensive problems) were just lack of focus.”
After a scoreless first half in which neither team seriously threatened to break the ice, Adams City scored a touchdown on its first possession of the third quarter after an 80-yard drive. QB Liban Shongolo was sprinting toward the left sideline, suddenly stopped and lofted a 30-yard pass into the end zone to a wide-open Troy Martinez.
The Eagles added two more TDs in the fourth period, the first shortly after Niwot punted from its own 3-yard line and the second after a fumbled snap by Niwot.
The little offense the Cougars did muster on Friday was via Anton Sandoval, who racked up 62 yards on 17 rushes.
On defense, the highlights for Niwot were interceptions by Nielson and Liam Flanagan.
“It wasn’t the best start we could have asked for, but I’m happy we put our hearts out there,” Nielson said. “And we’ll be back next week.”
Last year, Niwot defeated Adams City 34-14 in the season opener en route to a 3-0 start before losing its last seven games. Still, Niwot’s 2016 record of 3-7 was the program’s best since 2008. NHS has now gone 4-27 over the last three-plus seasons combined.
This year, the Cougars face the exact same opponents in the exact same order as in 2016.
“We’re only one game into a 10-week season. I think they’ll bounce back,” Lanter said.
Adams City is in a very similar situation as a program as is Niwot. The Eagles haven’t had a winning season since 2005, and are also in their first year with a new head coach (Jesse Jones).
Next up, Niwot will play its home opener as Summit pays a visit next Friday at 7 p.m. at Everly-Montgomery Field.
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Adams City 18, Niwot 0
At Adams City
Niwot (0-1)0000—0Adams City (1-0)00612—18
Adams City — Troy Martinez 30 pass from Liban Shongolo (kick blocked).
Adams City — Niko Suazo 3 run (run fail). Adams City — Shongolo 7 run (run fail).
RUSHING — Niwot: Sandoval 17-62, Golon 3-6, Tadewald 1-5, Flanagan 4-4, Pena 4-(-23). Adams City: Barrera 11-64, Shongolo 7-27, Marquez 7-20, Suazo 2-9, Richardson 3-5.
PASSING — Niwot: Pena 4-8-0-20, Grant 0-1-0-0. Adams City: Shongolo 15-26-2-193.
RECEIVING — Niwot: Nielson 3-17, Gazdik 1-3. Adams City: Richardson 6-58, Martinez 4-100, Marquez 2-19, Barrera 2-20, Alvarez 1-4.