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Vista Ridge celebrates new stadium with 45-6 rout of Montrose
Vista Ridge was so happy just to finally play a true home game that the rest was gravy.
And this was a lot of gravy.
The Wolves opened their new field in grand style. Brandon Cartagena ran for 239 yards and two long touchdowns in leading a 45-6 pasting of Montrose on Friday night.
“A new stadium at our own school – there’s no experience like it,” said Cartagena, who dashed 81 yards on the first play of the second half to extend the lead to 31-6. “We’re just grateful for it.”
After losing a large senior class, it seemed that the Vista Ridge roster — not its stadium — would be the work in progress this early in the season. But the opposite was true.
The team looked in sync in all facets. Senior quarterback Brayden Stewart threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns to Aaron Johnson and the defense allowed just a 1-yard second-quarter touchdown to a Montrose squad that went 9-2 last year and made the 4A playoffs.
“We still have a lot of weapons,” Cartagena said. “We’re going to be just fine.”
The new facility, on the other hand, has a ways to go. A grandstand that will seat 1,500 was not yet installed, so seating was limited to a pair of temporary structures on the visitor’s sideline. Those will be removed this week, and permanent seating on both sides should bring the facility to its full capacity of around 2,000 by the time Cheyenne Mountain visits Sept. 14.
A concession and restroom facility is also under construction and likely won’t be ready until later this season. A press box atop the home grandstand will complete construction — funded by the Falcon Community Builders for Classrooms — but will probably not be ready until next year.
Principal Bruce Grose said the facility will be named at some point this year, probably at homecoming.
The last time a 5A or 4A program in the area debuted a new field came in 2004, when Cheyenne Mountain moved into its current stadium.
The home field marked a vast difference for Vista Ridge, which had previously played home games on the campuses of District 49 rivals Falcon and Sand Creek.
“For the past two years we’ve been going to different schools and we really never had a home field feel,” coach Les Johnson said. “The crowd came out and it was a great time.”
It didn’t hurt matters that the Wolves looked so polished in their debut as a 4A program, especially for a Zero Week contest.
Johnson started the scoring when he took a short dump pass in the first quarter and turned upfield untouched for an 80-yard touchdown.
“(Cartagena) and I had a bet about who would score first here,” Johnson said. “So he owes me $5 in quarters.”
Johnson also scored the second touchdown, using his 6-foot-4 frame to outleap his defender for a 12-yard pass.
Junior running back Dedrick Lee also scored a pair of touchdowns for Vista Ridge, the second of which came on a 40-yard reverse that was sprung by a crushing block from Stewart – who showed more than enough muscle to explain why his teammates call him Tebow.
Montrose had 180 yards from running back Angelo Youngren, who ran for more than 1,300 yards last year as a sophomore. But the visitors from the Western Slope were never particularly close after Johnson’s early touchdowns.