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PEAK PERFORMER: Brayton Medina, Mesa Ridge football
When the 4A state football playoff bracket was released Nov. 4, few people had 10th-seeded Mesa Ridge in the semifinals. The Grizzlies, however, have played their two best games of the season the last two weeks, and a big reason — in more ways than one — is lineman Brayton Medina.
The 6-foot-5, 278-pound senior has been the anchor of both the offensive and defensive lines, and his impact was never more evident than in a 19-14 win over No. 2 Ponderosa in the quarterfinals.
“Brayton only had five tackles, but he was double teamed all night by the Ponderosa offensive line,” Mesa Ridge coach Rob Braaten said. “Our defensive line just kept chewing up blockers, which gave our linebackers a lot of chances to make tackles.”
Medina and his defense held previously unbeaten Ponderosa, which averaged 34 points per game, to just two touchdowns.
The game came down to the last minute, when Ponderosa had first-and-goal at the Mesa Ridge 1-yard line. With Medina and the rest of the defensive line able to get some penetration, Matt Rivera caused a fumble that was recovered by Cameron Van De Casteele.
“It looked like a trap play, and I remember falling and I heard someone yell fumble and looked up and saw the pile,” Medina said of the play. “There were so many emotions that hit me, but we weren’t done yet and we had to get some yards and make the clock run down.”
As good as the big fella is on defense; both he and his coach think he may even be slightly better on the offensive side. Medina has been a big part of the Grizzlies’ powerful rushing attack.
“He’s very solid on both sides of the ball, and he has done a nice job of blocking this season,” Braaten said. “I think he translates well to the next level and I see him as more of an offensive lineman in college. He’s young for his age and still growing.”
Medina is hoping to play for either CSU-Pueblo or Wyoming next season.
“Our lines have been playing together since freshman year and the chemistry is there. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Medina, who plans to study geology and geophysics in college. “We told each other back in June that we wanted to get to week 14. We had a taste of the playoffs in 2010, but we weren’t going to settle for just one win.”