Palmer Ridge looks the part in playoff opener vs. Berthoud

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Photo - Palmer Ridge Bears sophomore Tyler Calhoun (12) celebrates the touchdown of sophomore Raef Ruel (30) in the first quarter against the Berthoud Spartans. The Bears hosted the Spartans in the first round of the CHSAA class 3A football playoffs on Friday, November 10, 2017 at Don Breese Stadium. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing
Palmer Ridge Bears sophomore Tyler Calhoun (12) celebrates the touchdown of sophomore Raef Ruel (30) in the first quarter against the Berthoud Spartans. The Bears hosted the Spartans in the first round of the CHSAA class 3A football playoffs on Friday, November 10, 2017 at Don Breese Stadium. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

“Palmer Ridge Bears, Palmer Ridge Bears. Excellence in all” so the school’s fight song goes.

On the gridiron, the No. 2-ranked Bears football team was excellent in all three phases of the game in a 48-13 victory over No. 15 Berthoud Friday night at Don Breese stadium in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs.   

Boasting an offense that scored 46.1 points a game to go with 415.2 total scrimmage yards a game, the  Bears’ opening game in the second season began as one might expect. Quarterback Ty Evans found his receiver Anthony “Deuce” Roberson for a big play that set up and easy score for running back Raef Ruel inside the 5-yard-line.

Not to be outdone, Berthoud quarterback Brock Voth responded finding receiver Danny Pelphrey who took the ball down the right sideline to put the Spartans in the red zone. Voth found receiver Ryan Schmad to tie the game at 7.

Seemingly undaunted by the Bears’ undefeated record throughout the regular season, the Spartans their opponents on their feet, forcing a Palmer Ridge fumble on the ensuing possession.

Palmer Ridge’s defense was up to the challenge and forced a Berthoud three and out.

Then it was deja vu. Evans found Roberson on a long pass and Ruel scored from the 2-yard line.

On the following drive, it was Berthoud who fumbled. The Bears recovered and marched down a short field for a score on a quarterback keep by Evans.

The Spartans weren’t going quietly though. Both teams’ offenses stalled for a large chunk of the second quarter.

“It was just kind of mental errors on our part,” Evans said of the offense after the game. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties and missed assignments.”

Evans said his team just needed to regroup and focus. They did that on the final drive of the half, executing a two-minute drill perfectly. Evans found his receivers near the sidelines who then went out of bounds to stop the clock.

The Bears capped the drive off with a passing touchdown, courtesy of a spectacular catch from receiver Cameron Colangelo.

It was all Palmer Ridge from there. Evans threw two more touchdown passes, one to Roberson down the middle of the field and one to Cory McLellan who jumped over his defender to make the catch.

“It’s really comforting for me to rely on those guys and it’s not just at wide receiver we’ve got it everywhere,” Evans said. “We’ve got running backs that bring it every time, our offensive line is blocking like no other and on the other side of the ball our defense they bring it every game and it’s hard to stop a team like that.”

The defense kept the game in check for the most part, stymieing the Spartans’ offense and sacking the quarterback multiple times. Defensive end Zach Hester finished with five sacks.

Don’t let the big numbers fool you, The Bears are just as good on defense as they are on offense. Just one team, has scored more than 13 points on Palmer Ridge all season.

With a combo like that, they will be a force to be reckoned with this postseason. The Bears take on the winner of the game between Evergreen and Rifle Saturday.