ERIE — Senior running back Caleb Theisen exploded with every touch he got for Erie Friday night. Following his speedy 38-yard touchdown run, his momentum took him out the back of the end zone and into a set of bleachers.
He ended up taking a seat as his teammates caught up to celebrate.
Take a load off, kid.
In all, Theisen rushed for more than 100 yards for the first time in his high school career — and did it well before halftime — and the Class 4A No. 6 Tigers beat a depleted Longmont team, 50-6.
Theisen had 169 yards and a touchdown to help fuel Erie to a 37-0 halftime lead and finished with 13 carries for 189 yards on the ground. Quarterback Blake Barnett added three rushing TDs and added another score through the air as the Tigers improved to 4-0 on the season.
“We have really good team chemistry this year,” Theisen said. “And I really feel we’re all playing for each other and for one common goal.”
A game expected to feature plenty of talent on both sides was left wanting. Longmont starting quarterback Keegan Patterson, who came into the week ranked second in the state in passing yards per game, was among the Trojans players who did not play. Coach Doug Johnson also was not seen on a visiting sideline that seemed rather bare.
Longmont athletic director Pete Scheck said that the team is dealing with some quarantine issues, although he couldn’t speak to any specific situation.
Quarantines have affected sports teams at all levels for the better part of 18 months during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last high school football season in Colorado, multiple teams and players who were either near someone with a positive test, or had a positive test of their own, were quarantined on a weekly basis.
“We did have some quarantines this week,” Scheck said. “We have to find our way through that.”
Set up by a 50-yard run by Theisen, Barnett put the Tigers on the board with a 2-yard rush early in the first. The sophomore dual-threat quarterback added a 12-yard score later in the frame and pushed the lead to 22-0 on a 29-yard TD pass to Jaylen Klickna in the second.
After Theisen’s long rushing score a minute later, Erie made it 37-0 on a late drive that spanned 88 yards in three plays. On it, backup QB Evan Rearick threw two long completions, including a 35-yard score to Mason Cowgill 17 seconds before the break. Rearick ran in another score in the closing minutes.
After half, Barnett’s third rushing score of the game — a 10-yard scamper — pushed the lead to 43-0 with 7:22 left in the third. Up by 40 or more, the state-mandated running clock was started.
Longmont (1-3) got its lone score in the fourth as Justice Lillie broke up the shutout with a 44-yard burst.
Erie’s perfect start comes in the first year of new coach Jeff Giger. Giger had successful tenures at Strasburg and Brighton before he was hired in May.
“We’re still getting used to each other and that process takes a little time,” Giger said. “But I think the kids are doing a heck of a job coming together, trusting us. And that’s always the hardest part, learning how to trust each other. Everything that was done here before was really good. And then when you have someone coming in, there’s going to be change. And sometimes you resist change. But I think they’re doing a good job buying in and playing for each other. That’s been our focus.”
Erie will travel to Skyline next Friday in looking to remain perfect on the season. Longmont will face Silver Creek at Everly-Montgomery Field Thursday.