ARVADA — Ralston Valley made quick work of Cherokee Trail with onslaughts of ground and pound and a resounding defensive effort.
Brad Roberts’ continuous brute physicality punished white jerseys in his path and the senior captain was rewarded with three touchdowns as No. 6 Ralston Valley throttled No. 11 Cherokee Trail 52-0 Thursday night in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs.
“We executed well,” Roberts said. “Our defense had great plays, several turnovers — Thomas Harries with a few picks and Ben Schneider with some big hits. Our offense came out ready to go, fast tempo, especially in the third quarter when we started ground-and-pounding.”
Ben Takata and Chase Wilson underscored Roberts’ marquee performance in the Mustangs’ first game of the postseason after a first-round bye.
Takata made marks on both sides of the ball. His rushing touchdown just before halftime put the Mustangs up 24-0 by the break. His interception sparked Ralston Valley’s first scoring drive.
Cherokee Trail drove to Ralston Valley’s 25-yard line on the game’s opening possession but Takata intercepted sophomore quarterback Jayden LaVigne on a ball forced into triple coverage. Takata took the pick from the 10-yard line to the Ralston Valley 43. Four plays later, Roberts was in the end zone from 3 yards out for a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Wilson set the table for that first score with a 30-yard run and capped the opening drive of the second half with a rushing touchdown for a 31-0 advantage.
Roberts’ most barbaric score, his second, came halfway through the second quarter when he carried a trio of Cougars the final few yards to the goal line.
“I knew our guys prepared well but I was not expecting 52-0,” Ralston Valley coach Matt Loyd said. “Defensively we played well, gave us some good field position and the offense took advantage of it.”
Ralston Valley faces the winner of No. 3 Cherry Creek and No. 14 Castle View, which play Friday at 7 p.m. at the Stutler Bowl.
“To be honest I have not seen either one of them (to this point),” Loyd said of his team’s next opponent. “We’ll get a chance to see them, see what they got on film. We’ve played Cherry Creek the past two years so we kind of know where they’re at.”