HIGHLANDS RANCH — The Skyline High School football team usually does well in Week 1.
Week Zero, however, wasn’t too kind to the Falcons on Friday night.
Playing their season opener a week early for the first time, the Falcons were flat in a 23-0 loss to host Mountain
Vista at Shea Stadium in a Class 4A nonleague game.
“We have to shore some things up,” Skyline coach Bob Knapton said. “We’ll get there.”
Mountain Vista (1-0) scored 16 points in a stretch of 4 minutes, 26 seconds in the third quarter to pull away, sending Skyline (0-1) to its first loss in a season opener since 2000.
“We’re 0-1, but we are still ahead of everyone else,” Skyline senior running back Colton Lehl said. “We still have nine weeks left. We just have to come out and play.”
The Falcons showed the rust of a team that had only had two weeks of practice, but Lehl wasn’t about to blame the schedule on the loss.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said of playing a week ahead of most teams. “You’ve got to come out and play. We’ve known about this game since last year. We knew we had to be ready. You can’t use that as an excuse. We didn’t make the plays.”
Skyline did show have some good moments, just not when it counted most.
A 36-yard pass from Cody Ganz to Marcus Padilla and a 25-yard run by Lehl put the Falcons in a position to take the lead early in the second quarter.
Once Skyline got close, though, the offense sputtered. A couple penalties pushed them back, and then on 4th-and-3 from the 11, Lehl lost control of the ball and Mountain Vista recovered.
“It was stupid plays,” said Lehl, who still finished with a game-high 78 yards on 15 carries. “I fumbled down there and I should have scored.”
Skyline missed another good scoring chance late in the fourth quarter. The Falcons got as close as the 2, but lost five yards on their next two rushing attempts and then Ganz and Lehl couldn’t connect on a fourth-down pass from the Mountain Vista 7.
“When you have a good chance to score, you have to score,” Knapton said. “When you drive down there and then fumble, it pumps (the other team) up.”
That’s exactly what it did on Friday. After Skyline’s second-quarter fumble, Mountain Vista responded with a 13-play scoring drive to take a 7-0 lead into halftime.
It was the third quarter that ended up sinking the Falcons, though. Mountain Vista’s Jake Carpenter scored on a 13-yard run on the Golden Eagles’ first possession of the second half, giving them a 14-0 lead.
From there, poor special teams play hurt the Falcons. Punter Mac Lundquist — he normally handles the long snaps, but had to fill in for Mike Holle, who sat out for disciplinary reasons — had a punt blocked and recovered at the 13. Mountain Vista needed just one play to score and make it 21-0.
On Skyline’s next possession, Lundquist stood in punt formation in his own end zone. After a bad snap, he made the smart play and booted the ball out of the end zone for a safety, but the Falcons were down 23-0.
“We started losing momentum on that,” Knapton said.
Skyline dropped to 7-4 in season openers under Knapton and had won seven of its last eight before Friday. Still, the Falcons know the season is a long one, and they’ll hope the early game helps them be a little sharper against Silver Creek next Friday.
“It’s good to get the kinks out,” Lehl said. “We just need to come out and make plays next week.”