Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley

Mistakes bury Cougars in loss to Fort Morgan


November 2, 2018

Jocelyn Rowley

Niwot’s Lucas Steiner waits for Fort Morgan to snap the ball their game on Oct. 25.

There wasn’t much to celebrate after Niwot’s 42-0 home loss to Fort Morgan on Oct. 25, but head coach Jeremy Lanter doesn’t think there’s reason to despair, either.

“We had the worst second quarter we’ve had in football,” Lanter said after the squad gave up three touchdowns to the fourth-ranked Mustangs. “But the kids came out in the third quarter and they didn’t give up, and they kept working, and they started playing for each other, and that certainly makes the old guy proud.”

The Cougars mounted a decent drive to start the game, but quickly fell victim to Fort Morgan’s more experienced offensive and defensive lines. At the end of the first quarter, Niwot trailed 14-0, after giving up a long run on Fort Morgan’s first possession and then a long drive.

Niwot’s best scoring opportunity came on the ensuing drive, but they eventually turned the ball over on downs inside the Mustangs’ ten-yard line without scoring.

Then the Cougars seemed to lose their way, at least for the rest of the half. Fort Morgan threw a 94-yard touchdown pass on the very next play, making it 21-0 with five minutes to go. The Cougars’ next possession ended in an interception, which quickly resulted in another Fort Morgan touchdown. The Cougars following drive was marred by penalties, and the one after that ended in a blocked punt. By the time the game went to break, Niwot trailed the Mustangs 35-0.

The Niwot defense found its footing in the second half, holding the Fort Morgan offense scoreless. That was thanks in large part to senior DaeMonte Terry, who provided many of Niwot’s defensive highlights, mostly in the form of hard hits and timely tackles. He also had a hand in designing the defensive strategy that kept Fort Morgan’s ground game off balance at times, particularly in the first quarter, before they started passing the ball.

“He’s done a lot to help and have input on things here and there,” Lanter said of his free safety, who also had 34 kick return yards on the night. “He steps up and does so much for us.”

Sophomore quarterback Ayden Bartko and the offense continued to struggle during the second half. Fort Morgan’s sole score came on a Niwot fumble into their own end zone, which was subsequently recovered by the Mustangs for another touchdown. Nevertheless, Lanter said Bartko continues to make strides.

“Ayden is the kind of kid that you never have to tell the same thing twice,” the coach said. “We know he’s going to do a lot for us in the future.”

Jocelyn Rowley

Niwot’s Isaac Fisk (7) carries the ball for Niwot during their 42-0 loss to Fort Morgan on Oct. 25.

Against the Mustangs, Bartko went 10-for-19 for 69 yards and an interception. The Cougar receivers were helped out when sophomore Isaac Fisk tried his hand at QB, and completed a 34-yard pass to senior Jonathan Colon on Niwot’s first drive. Meanwhile, Niwot’s four rushers managed just 42 yards on 18 carries, the longest a 13-yard run by Angelo Salazar.

With the loss, Niwot fell to 3-6 on year, with just one game remaining on the schedule. Though incoming opponent Roosevelt has the same record as Niwot, Lanter is expecting a fight, if only because the Roughrider defense is helmed by his brother Link Lanter. Even so, the Niwot part of the family is looking forward to the matchup.

“This season has been such an inspirational thing for these kids, for this town, for this school, that whatever happens, at least I know that our kids won’t stop playing hard,” the Niwot coach said.


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