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Denver South steamrolls Grizzlies
Mesa Ridge run ends in 4A semifinal
When asked about Trevonte Tasco, Denver South’s battering ram sophomore running back, and how he might compare to another famous No. 36 who won a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rebels coach Tony Lindsay Sr. didn’t immediately anoint him as the next coming of “The Bus.”
“No, he’s not as tall as Jerome (Bettis),” Lindsay said. “But we call Trevonte ‘The Tank.’”
The 5-foot-8, 245-pound wrecking ball, pressed into full-time service after an injury, certainly played the part of his nickname, rambling for 188 yards and two touchdowns on 19 bruising carries in a 38-22 win Saturday in a 4A semifinal at C.A. Foster Stadium.
“The number was given to me,” said Tasco, who also set up two short touchdown runs by quarterback Malik Tollerson as Denver South (12-1) broke open a 6-0 halftime lead with three consecutive scores to open the second half. “But I do like his style.”
On the first play of the second half, Rebels running back Pete Williams suffered a right knee injury. He was unable to put weight on it as he was helped off the field. On the ensuing snap, Tasco, who started the season on junior varsity, rambled 59 yards to the Mesa Ridge 9. Two plays later, Tollerson sneaked in from the 1-yard line and extended the lead to 12-0 after a failed 2-point conversion.
“I knew he could do that,” Lindsay said of Tasco. “It’s not a surprise to me, and I’m just glad we have him. It’s hard for a team to prepare for a back like him. He’s not going to go down with just one guy.”
The Grizzlies (9-4), on their deepest playoff run ever, didn’t go quietly despite the Rebels’ lead swelling to 31-0 midway through the fourth quarter after Tasco’s 21-yard, stiff-arming run. They scored 22 points in the last 4 minutes.
“The kids didn’t quit, and that was the most important thing,” Grizzlies coach Rob Braaten said. “They kept playing, and I’m very proud of them.”
Senior quarterback Cody Groff completed three passes for 64 yards that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Curtis Crockett and, one play after the Grizzlies recovered an onside kick, tossed a 43-yard strike to Bryce Johnson that cut the deficit to 31-14.
The two teams traded scores, Mesa Ridge striking last with 18 seconds left on Groff’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Morris Gilbert.
“I promised my boys I wasn’t going to let them go out weak,” said Groff, who ended the season with 28 touchdown passes. “We wanted to rally together and put some points on the board in the second half, and to show why we were there.”
Denver South (12-1) will play in its first title game since 1958 when it plays Monarch (12-1) Dec. 1 at Sports Authority Field.
Defenses and mistakes told the story of the first half.
Early in the second quarter and the game still scoreless, the Rebels elected to punt, rather than go for it, on fourth-and-6 from the Grizzlies 30. Punter Cameron French took the snap and sprinted toward the right sideline but managed only 2 yards. A facemask penalty tacked on 5 yards and gave South a first down. Two plays later, Tollerson broke the ice with a 1-yard run.
The Grizzlies responded with their best drive of the half, reaching the Rebels 10 in nine plays, the drive stalling after a false start penalty and a Groff incompletion on third-and-5 when he was hit as he threw. Then kicker Nathan Hoskins missed a 30-yard field goal wide to the right.
“In the first half, we kept a good offense in check,” Braaten said. “We had some opportunities but didn’t take advantage, and they did. It was just a case of needing our offense to make plays when our defense was, and then we needed to make plays on defense when our offense woke up.”
The Grizzlies ended the day with 11 penalties and also had a punt blocked.
“We didn’t play Grizzly football,” senior lineman Matt Faraci said. “I don’t know what it was. We weren’t firing like we usually do. By the fourth quarter, our demeanor had gone down. We had one and a half bad quarters and it cost us.”