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Football: Atkinson sets all-time passing record, Fairview wins league title

Knights finish regular season with 9-1 mark

Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com
Fairview quarterback Aidan Atkinson looks downfield for a receiver in the first half versus the Rocky Mountain Lobos on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019 in Fort Collins.
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FORT COLLINS — Fairview quarterback Aidan Atkinson set another passing record in his high school career Thursday night as he passed former Bear Creek quarterback Justin Holland’s record of 10,565 passing yards for a high school career.

The record, which was set by Holland when he played from 1997 to 2000, was broken on Fairview’s second offensive drive of the first quarter when Atkinson completed a pass to tight end David Howlett for a nine-yard gain.

Many more passing yards came on the career night for the Fairview quarterback, but he was more focused on talking about the team’s 41-14 win over Rocky Mountain to win the Front Range League title and complete an unbeaten conference portion of the regular season.

Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com
Fairview running back Dillon Tarves (24, top) breaks a tackle to score a touchdown in the third quarter versus the Rocky Mountain Lobos on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019 in Fort Collins. (Photo by Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com)

“The record is great, but we’re just happy to repeat as league champs and go back-to-back,” Atkinson said. “This is a great way to finish our season, out on the road and in cold weather. I thought our guys responded perfectly being on the road on a Thursday.”

Fairview’s win was more impressive considering the short week, travel and not having full practices leading up to the game due to the snowstorm that hit the area and impacted schools earlier in the week.

“We just continued to do what we do. We’re never satisfied,” Atkinson said. “We want more. We continue to get better. Guys continue to make plays and have stepped up into roles they probably didn’t see themselves in earlier in the year.”

Atkinson helped Fairview (9-1, 5-0) drive 80 yards on the opening drive for a touchdown, a 22-yard reception from senior receiver Henry Blackburn. The two would connect on the second drive – the same one the passing record was broke – with a short pass in which Blackburn broke free after the catch for a 32-yard score. Blackburn finished with 16 receptions for 269 yards to go with his two receiving touchdowns.

Rocky Mountain would hang close in the first half with an interception returned for a touchdown and trailed 21-7 at the half, but Fairview used a long touchdown drive with Atkinson throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Dillon Tarves in the third quarter to cushion the lead. Another long offensive drive saw Blackburn score a rushing touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

Fairview recorded 661 yards of total offense, 613 of which came through the air on 41 completions thrown by Atkinson.

“Over the course of the season we had a lot of new guys in there, and all we really needed was reps and to trust one another,” Atkinson said. “We have been able to do that the past couple of games.”

Just as impressive was the Fairview defense, who allowed just one touchdown in the final minute of the fourth quarter with the starters out to Rocky Mountain (5-5, 3-2).

A successful regular season is just the first goal Fairview has for the 2019 season. No matter the records broken, nor the number of points scored and yards gained, the team says all that matters is what they do starting next week in the Class 5A state playoffs.

Fairview should get a first-round home game, and this year the team is confident they can make a deep run towards the ultimate goal of winning the state title.

Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com
Fairview’s Liam Huber (4) wraps up Rocky Mountain quarterback Giles Pooler (12) to record a sack on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019 in Fort Collins. (Photo by Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com)

“I’m excited for what we can do in the playoffs,” Atkinson said. “I think we have a great chance. As long as we continue to approach each week with the same mentality we have the past couple of weeks, we have a shot. It’s not going to be easy and will take a lot of work, but I think this group is up to the challenge.”