Third-ranked Cherry Creek contained Douglas County's heralded back Trey Smith but that's about all the mistake-prone Bruins did right against the Huskies.
Douglas County trailed 3-0 in the final minute of the second quarter but reeled off 23 unanswered points to upset the Bruins, 23-10, in an early-season showdown between unbeaten teams Sept. 16 at the Stutler Bowl in Greenwood Village.
The game was originally scheduled for Sept. 12 but was postponed because the Cherry Creek school district canceled activities due to the heavy rains.
“I was a little disappointed we didn't get to play on Thursday,” said Huskies coach Jeff Ketron. “I thought we were ready, I thought our kids were focused. Then I saw something when we were practicing Friday. We brought them in Saturday at 6 o'clock in the morning. It was foggy and we had to turn the lights on. I just saw something in this team that I haven't seen.”
He liked what he saw against Cherry Creek as Douglas County improved to 3-0 in the first of three games in 11 days. The Huskies play Rocky Mountain Sept. 20 and open Continental League play Sept. 26 against Mountain Vista. All military veterans and current military personnel will get in free Sept. 20.
Smith, who came into the game averaging 293.5 all-purpose yards a game, gained 21 yards on 11 carries and scored once. He also caught one pass for six yards and had an interception.
The Huskies had plenty of other players stand out, including junior defensive end Tomatea Barlett, whose parents are from New Zealand. He was in on six quarterback sacks and deflected a pass.
Barlett, CJ Briggs and Devin Jackson were the leaders of a pass rush that kept heavy pressure on Creek quarterbacks Cameron Brucher and Nate Sweeney most of the game. Austin Newsome and Daniel Brown led the Huskies' defense with 13 and 11 tackles.
“He's a rugby kid who took up football,” Ketron said of Barlett. “Our defensive line has some great speed. They are a little bit light but those kids can motor. They're just tough kids.”
Creek's two quarterbacks combined to pass for 209 yards but felt pressure on almost every attempt.
“They had a good passing game and our DL knew to disrupt that we had to get pressure,” said Barlett. “Our coach says O lines and D lines win games.
“The game was a highlight for me, I've never beaten Creek before, not even as a youth. Yeah, I'll be talking about this for a long time. Just seeing the smiles on all the guy's faces was one of the coolest things ever.”
Cherry Creek, averaging 30.5 points in its first two games, and Douglas County, which averaged 45 points in two victories, struggled to a 3-3 halftime tie.
A 29-yard field goal by Henry Lynn pushed Creek ahead 3-0 with 55 seconds left before halftime but the Huskies, behind the passing of quarterback Rope Ruel, drove to the Creek 19, where Wyatt Bryant missed a 34-yard field goal attempt.
However, a roughing-the-kicker penalty was called on Creek, and Bryant connected on a 29-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
Cherry Creek, which outgained the Huskies 320-225 in total offense, had 13 penalties for 105 yards during the game. The Bruins also had three turnovers, which led to 13 Huskies points.
Creek, behind the running of Milo Hall, who finished with 148 rushing on 23 carries, took the second half kickoff and moved to the Huskies 29-yard line but Brucker fumbled while scrambling for yardage.
Newsome picked up the fumble and ran to the Creek 2-yard line. Smith scored on the next play and the momentum had switched to the visitors.
Bryan hit on field goals of 31 and 44 yards and Ruel scored on a 30-yard run as Douglas County went ahead 23-3 before Creek scored a touchdown with 12 seconds left in the game.
“When you look at Trey's overall carries in games one and two, he only had 12 and 14 carries,” Ketron said of Smith, who has verbally committed to play at Colorado State. “We try to keep balance. We try to spread it out on offense and against Creek we had to depend on some other people. I knew we could do it.”
Cherry Creek will try to rebound Sept. 20 on the road against Denver East.