LONGMONT — Strong regular-season schedules can make or break a football program when the postseason rolls around, and Class 4A No. 16 seed Skyline proved as much in a 48-13 win over No. 17 Widefield on Friday night.
Maybe it was the bone-cold weather, maybe it was the bright lights of Everly-Montgomery Field. Either way, the Falcons played with ice in their veins, especially in the first half of their opening 4A state playoff matchup to ensure their season wouldn’t end there.
They put the Gladiators away early and kept them at arm’s length the rest of the night.
Junior Rah Carson put together a performance worthy of an Egyptian god, collecting 227 yards and four touchdowns to give the Gladiators a brain freeze all night long. Senior quarterback Kaiden Box added to his effort with 124 passing yards and two scores — one airborne and one on the ground — and senior wide receiver Logan Miller collected 120 offensive yards with a monster special-teams scoring run and an interception.
“It felt great, especially being in a playoff game,” Carson said. “It meant a lot for this one. My dad showed up. He came all the way out from Ohio to watch the team win.”
The Falcons improved to 7-4 with the victory.
“They did an amazing job,” head coach Mike Silva said. “I thought we had one of the tougher schedules around. In the end, seven of our 10 opponents are playoff teams. They weathered it and found a way to get in, and then we’re in good shape hosting the ballgame tonight, and we’re going to go try to get after it.”
Before the game started, Silva knew the difference between victory and defeat would boil down to defending the run and executing it. The first few possessions foreshadowed how the contest would play out after Skyline crossed into the end zone in the first 93 seconds thanks to a short run from Carson.
On their next possession, Box threw an interception in Skyline’s red zone but the Falcon defense left the Gladiators high and dry.
The Gladiators couldn’t get on the board until six minutes remained in the first half, and they needed a 69-yard pass to break the shutout. The Falcons led 28-6 by the midway break, one score of which came through a 76-yard kickoff return from Miller.
They didn’t stop there. They kept pounding Widefield left and right before the clock wound down to zero for the final time. Now, the Falcons will have to prepare for their toughest test when they head south to No. 1 Palmer Ridge next week.
“It’s really going to help us get a boost of momentum going into the second round of playoffs,” Carson said. “We’ve started working together as a team more at practice. We’ve had more intensity, and we have more confidence.”