The Bears scored early and often today at historic Dutch Clark Stadium en route to a surprisingly lopsided and dominant 56-6 win over the Pueblo East Eagles in the Colorado Class 3A football semi-finals.
Kellin Leigh had a dynamic day. He scored from 74 yards out on Rifle’s first offensive play from scrimmage and then caught a long touchdown pass to make the score 21-0. By the time the third quarter was well underway, Rifle had a 42-0 lead and the rest of the game was played with a running clock.
The Bears’ defense returned to form this week. They allowed one Eagles’ drive to reach the 1-yard line before they forced a fumble and recovered it in the end zone for a touchback. Pueblo East scored on a long pass in the third quarter after the Bears had sent the game to a running clock. Otherwise, the Eagles were not allowed near the end zone all day.
For head coach Damon Wells and assistant Jonathan Rice, Saturday marks their third win in a Colorado 3A football semi-final game. Both coaches were with the Bears when Rifle won the championship in 2004 and returned to the finals in 2005.
The win set a number of milestones for the Bears. It again set a new team record for wins in a season with 13. It also guaranteed that the 2012 Bears will have lifted the program’s all-time playoff winning percentage above .500. Right now the Bears’ all-time playoff record stands at 27-25-1. This is impressive for the program because, in a single-elimination tournament, a team must advance to the state semi-finals to achieve a winning playoff percentage in a given year. That’s hard to do, and to do it often enough to have a winning record overall is truly impressive for the program.
Saturday’s state championship will be at Legacy Stadium in Aurora at 1:00PM. It will mark the 6th state championship game for the program. Rifle’s current record in the finals is 2-2-1 so Saturday’s game is an opportunity to give the program an overall state championship game winning percentage. Rifle won a share of the title in 1961, won their first outright title in 1973 and then won another in 2004.
Rifle’s opponent in the finals will be the Silver Creek Raptors. This will be the second consecutive finals for the Raptors who lost to Windsor in the title game last year. The Raptors, like Pueblo East, have a balanced offensive attack that relies slightly more on the pass than the run. They average 30 points per game. Their strength is likely their defense which allows opponents just over 11 points per game and may prove to be the best the Bears have faced this year. In comparison, Rifle averages 45 points per game while giving up just 6.
We will be posting more information throughout the week, but for now the Bears achieved their primary goal for the game: “7 More Days” together as a team.