BOULDER — The Fairview Knights were highly motivated for their football game Friday night at Recht Field.
Coming into town were the ThunderRidge Grizzlies, the only team to defeat Fairview last season. They defeated the Knights 28-24 in the regular season and did it again the second round of the Class 5A state playoff tournament 30-13. On top of that, the Knights were looking to bounce back from a rough 50-7 loss to Ralston Valley they suffered in Week 2 just eight days ago.
Both the offense and the defense came to play Friday night and helped the Knights avenge all those setbacks by getting the 40-6 win.
“(ThunderRidge) gave us both losses last year, so that was the bounce-back and with what happened to us last week,” Fairview coach Tom McCartney said. “I’m proud of the way they rebounded.”
Answering the call first was the defense. After giving ThunderRidge a short field to start the game on a bad kickoff, the Knights got the stop and forced a punt.
“We always come out ready to stop them,” Fairview’s Landon Colvin said. “That was big to stop them there.”
What followed was a six-play, 81-yard drive that saw quarterback Aidan Atkinson pick apart the defense in the passing game and running back Dillon Tarves find some room. The drive was completed by Atkinson finding David Howlett for a 34-yard touchdown completion, the first of three touchdown connections the duo would have on the night.
The opening sequence remained the theme with Fairview finding big plays on offense and getting turnovers and stops on defense to build up a big lead. They would score two touchdowns in the first and second quarters to lead 27-0 at the break and then scored two more touchdowns in the second half to force the running clock.
“We were definitely up for this game,” McCartney said. “I am definitely proud of them. They got a fast start and the defense played lights-out.”
Atkinson completed 20 of his 30 pass attempts for 364 yards and five touchdowns for Fairview, improving from his turnover-riddled night versus Ralston Valley last week. Howlett became his go-to target early and seven receptions in all. There were still big plays found from Grant Page that included a 72-yard touchdown completion in the first half.
McCartney said that while there will still a few too many turnovers, the offense had a major bounce-back, in large part due to his younger receiving core.
“We have a couple of sophomore receivers out there with three-touchdown games in Howlett and Page,” McCartney said. “It’s huge for us. I thought (Howlett) was huge tonight and did great.”
As for defense, the preparation this week had them ready to return to form as well.
“We watched film every day and we knew what they were going to run,” Colvin said. “We had to stop the run and do good over the top.”
Fairview improved to 2-1 and will play its first true road game next Friday at Doherty in Colorado Springs.