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Niwot treats Homecoming crowd to rout

 

September 18, 2019 | View PDF

Jocelyn Rowley

Senior Jarret Noterman nearly gets his hands on a Ft. Lupton pass in the Cougars' 52-0 rout of Ft. Lupton on Sept. 13.

You don't have to look back very far to find the last Niwot Football game that ended with a running clock, but it's been at least a decade since the Cougars were the team ahead by more than 40 points. That's just one of the milestones head coach Jeremy Lanter and his players are celebrating after Niwot's 52-0 drubbing of Fort Lupton in front of a raucous homecoming crowd on Sept. 13.

"It feels good to be on this side of it," Lanter said after his team's dominating performance against the Blue Devils at Everly-Montgomery Field in Longmont. "We got everybody involved in the game, and those are the types of games you really want to have, especially for homecoming. You just want everybody to feel good and happy about what happened when they walk off the field."

Niwot walked off the field with more than just their second consecutive homecoming win. They also recorded their first shut-out in more than a decade, as well as their highest scoring (52), touchdown (7), and conversion point (6) totals, thanks to an offense that was hitting on all cylinders.

Leading that offense was junior quarterback Ayden Bartko, who went 10-for-13, with 124 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions, for a career-best passer rating of 145.5.

"We really came together as a team," Bartko said. "I felt my offensive line was doing good, the receivers were running crisp routes, and everybody was just working hard."

The second-year starter didn't seem to have a favorite of the six receivers he targeted against Fort Lupton. In the second quarter, he connected with Jarrett Noterman for a 30-yard touchdown, giving the Cougars a 16-0 lead, and in the third quarter, he threw a perfect strike to junior Julian Bell for his first career score.

"I think that was one of my favorite plays just because we've been expecting it," he said. "We know that he can catch, we know he's a big body, so he can do everything on the field."

On the ground, Niwot rushed for 218 yards and four touchdowns, two by senior running back Liam Flanagan. He ended the game with 81 yards, extending his league-leading total to 346, the fifth-highest in Class 3A.

The Cougars fielded a total of seven rushers, including junior Isaac Fisk, who put Niwot over the 40-point mercy rule threshold with a 21-yard scoring run in the final seconds of the third quarter. He ended with 28 yards on four carries and 20 receiving yards. Senior Jovani Lopez, a member of the 2019 senior homecoming court, went 5-for-35 with two 2-point conversions. Also scoring for the Cougars was junior running back Brandon Dimas, in his first varsity appearance.

Even the Niwot defense got in on the scoring. In the final minutes of the first half, senior Julian Molina returned an interception for a touchdown to give the Cougars a 22-0 lead. He would go on to have 12 solo tackles on the night, as well as 38 yards rushing.

Overall, Lanter said the defense looked "aggressive and physical," particularly at the line of scrimmage. Niwot held Fort Lupton to less than 75 yards in total offense, and had two interceptions. He was also happy to see that a few of the painful lessons from Niwot's Sept. 6 loss to Greeley Central had apparently hit their mark.

"We had a large emphasis on tackling this week in practice, and they certainly seemed to do a much better job of staying low and staying at thigh-board level," Lanter said. "Hats off to the coaches for preaching that all week."

Again, Lanter couldn't find much to criticize in Niwot's performance, either on the field, on the sidelines, or in the stands.

Jocelyn Rowley

Quarterback Ayden Bartko (12) had two TD passes against the Blue Devils on Sept. 13.

"I was more excited about the energy our kids came out with and that they were able to sustain that energy through the whole game," he said. "And the community support and the student support was absolutely incredible, and I hope that they felt like we were playing good football for them."

He also acknowledged that not everyone walked off the field happy.

"I've been where [Fort Lupton] is, but honestly, their kids kept playing hard, and it didn't feel like things were chippy or dirty, so we've got to give them credit for doing things the right way over there."

With the win, Niwot moved to 2-1 on the year, and currently sits in second in the North Valley league. The Cougars will be back on the field on Sept. 20 to take on Littleton, another team they beat in 2018. Their next home game is Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. against Eagle Valley.

 

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