DENVER — Erie quarterback Blake Barnett brought his all-state speed to All City Stadium, going zero-to-gone late in the opening half of the second round of the Class 4A playoffs Friday night.
Just a tad different from his state 100-meter win in May, he pointed out: “When I’m on the track there’s nobody trying to hit me.” Good point.
The quicks, the rocket arm, fiery leadership, and of course, the ability to make everything out of nothing — that was all there on this night.
Likely the local quarterback prospect next in line to make a splash on the national recruiting stage, Barnett showcased the dual-threat talent that has so many hopeful college fanbases bullish as he led the 11-seed Tigers past No. 6 Denver South, 35-10, and into the state quarterfinals.
Already with offers from CU, CSU, Kansas State, Oregon State and Washington, the junior finished with 172 yards through the air, another 121 on the ground, five scores to two interceptions. Playing defensive back, he had a pick of his own midway through the fourth quarter to seal things.
By next fall, the QB (who is now just three scores away from 100 in his career) will probably get a scene similar to that of Broomfield QB and former Erie student Cole LaCrue, who committed to Wisconsin live on television Monday.
For now, though, he said he’s only thinking about what’s next for the Tigers (8-4).
“I’m just trying to play high school football and when it comes down to it in two years, a year and a half, then I’ll be a college athlete,” he said.
A rematch with No. 3 Ponderosa (9-2) is next. The Mustangs beat Erie 39-27 in Week 1 — and almost immediately after Friday’s win, Barnett reminded his team they’d celebrated on its home field.
“That first game, we had first-game jitters,” Barnett said. “And we’ve gotten so much better since Week 1 … man, I want that revenge.”
Barnett found a wide-open Caden Lettis for a 49-yard touchdown in the opening quarter with his first passing attempt of the night. It was the Southern Utah commit’s eighth TD reception of the season.
For the go-ahead score late in the half, Barnett outran most of the defense on a 41-yard scramble to make it 14-7. He did need to break a tackle by the goal line, something he noted afterward with a grin that he doesn’t have to do on the track.
Barnett’s third and fourth TDs came on short fields set up by successive blocked punts. His fifth came after he took an interception inside the Ravens’ 20 in the final minutes.
“He’s so damn talented and he probably tried to do too much early, and he knows that and that’s something he is trying to work on,” said coach Jeff Giger, who improved to 5-1 in the postseason with Erie. “He’s so competitive that he always wants to make the plays, but then as you can see, he can make a lot of the plays. You ride that wave, and when he gets going, he carries us for sure.”
Erie’s suddenly stout defense halted Denver South to a season-low 10 points. A small part of it may be attributed to the fact the Ravens were largely without their star receiver Rashad Caldwell. Mainly, Giger said, it’s a unit totally buying in.
Over the past three weeks, the Tigers have given up just 23 points. They were allowing more than 28 points per game prior to that.
Elsewhere on the local scene, 3A No. 11 Frederick beat No. 6 Summit in the opening round and will face No. 3 Lutheran next weekend.
4A No. 16 Skyline fell to No. 1 Palmer Ridge in the second round.