The Gazette Game of the Week: Pine Creek, Fountain-Fort Carson renew rivalry for real

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Photo - Pine Creek halfback Thomas Dantzler looks for room to run during practice at the school Wednesday, September 14, 2016 in preparation for Friday's game against Fountain-Fort Carson. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
Pine Creek halfback Thomas Dantzler looks for room to run during practice at the school Wednesday, September 14, 2016 in preparation for Friday's game against Fountain-Fort Carson. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

Todd Miller has built a powerhouse football program over the past dozen years at Pine Creek.

He based a lot of what he does with his team around this week's opponent: Fountain-Fort Carson and former coach Mitch Johnson.

True, the Eagles will be taking on a much different Trojans program now with Jake Novotny in charge.

But that doesn't take anything away from a rivalry that has only taken part in the summer for the past couple of years.

"He (Johnson) just kind of helped me out early in my career," Miller said Wednesday. "He kind of pushed me in the right direction when I was making some dumb choices."

The prior two seasons, F-FC (0-2) and Pine Creek (1-1) got together for a midsummer scrimmage. The exhibitions drew hundreds of fans for the game-situation practices.

Trojans senior Kendryk Rankin loved seeing so many people, but Friday night at Fountain-Fort Carson will make it much more real.

"We feel like we've been waiting to get at each other for a while," the defensive lineman said. "Now we get that chance to go (at) each other. Lock the gates Friday."

The last time the teams met, Pine Creek beat Fountain-Fort Carson in the 2013 season opener. That year marked the first of the Eagles' back-to-back 4A state titles. Fountain-Fort Carson, as it is now, was in 5A then.

The two teams believe they are the area's best programs in their respective classifications. While that remains to be seen this year, they'll be battling for bragging rights against one another at Guy R. Barickman Stadium.

"I know the rivalry because I grew up watching Pine Creek football," Pine Creek quarterback Brock Domann said. "It's a really big deal. It's really cool to go down there, because the whole town of Fountain goes and supports them."

The Eagles are coming off a victory over defending 4A champ and then-ranked No. 1 Windsor. Pine Creek leapfrogged the Wizards in this week's Associated Press poll to go to No. 4, while Windsor fell to No. 5.

F-FC is coming off a humbling 42-0 loss to 5A No. 1 Pomona. The Trojans are hoping they can find that first win against one of the state's top teams.

"The best team from Monument south in the higher classification, in my opinion, in football has been Pine Creek," Novotny said. "One of our goals is to control southern Colorado. Prior to that, the goal right underneath it is to beat Pine Creek. You can't control southern Colorado until you beat Pine Creek."