Wheat Ridge punishes Palmer in Terrors' opener

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Palmer football coach Tom Reber wasn’t shy about what his team needs to work on after a 47-6 season-opening loss to Wheat Ridge on Thursday night.

“We need to improve in all phases of the game,” he said.

The Farmers dominated from the start, thanks to a stellar performance by returning all-state running back Payton Dietrich, who rushed for three touchdowns and 131 yards. Teammate Trent Hale offered support by throwing touchdown passes of 61 and 36 yards.

Wheat Ridge (1-1) was determined to bounce back after a 42-0 thumping by Pueblo South on Week Zero. The Farmers proved that they were over that loss early on, evident by the fact that they jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.

“This win is going to motivate us and push us to want to do more,” Dietrich said.

The Farmers capitalized on early turnovers by the Terrors (0-1). After Palmer fumbled in its own territory midway through the first quarter, Wheat Ridge scored its first touchdown on a 2-yard run by Dietrich.

On the ensuing Palmer drive, Dietrich intercepted a pass to set up a 61-yard touchdown toss from Hale to Naishon Thomas. Dietrich then had another short touchdown run to cap off the first quarter.

Wheat Ridge forced Palmer to punt to open the second quarter, and Dominic Trujillo marched in for a 1-yard TD to put the Farmers ahead 28-0. The Farmers wrapped up the second quarter with a 34-0 advantage thanks to a 1-yard run by Trujillo and a 36-yard pass from Hale to Max Warner.

Dietrich and Jack Michel put the finishing touches with touchdown runs of 56 and 28 yards, respectively, in the third quarter to give the Farmers a comfortable 47-0 lead. Meanwhile, the Wheat Ridge defense limited Palmer to no completed passes in the game and under 40 rushing yards in the first half.

In the final seconds, Palmer managed to avoid a shutout. Senior fullback Ian McGee capped off a 14-play drive with a 5-yard touchdown.

Reber inherited a Terrors program that went 1-9 last season and has won only 11 games in the past six seasons after reaching the second round of the 5A playoffs. Thursday, he saw a young team that can get better.

“There’s been a lot of changes thrown at them this past year,” Reber said. “They’re responding well to it. They’re figuring things out. They’re getting one percent better every day. As long we continue to do that and do things the right way, we’ll have a real successful season.”