LAKEWOOD – There was no Gatorade bath, no doves released into the air, no balloons, fireworks or even a victory lap from the players.
There was relief, however, and the easy smiles that come when a monkey the size of Montana jumps off your back.
"It felt good to win," Evergreen quarterback Noah Ansley said Friday. "Haven’t felt that in a while."
All season, to be exact. But all that came to an end Oct. 16 when the Cougars (1-6) downed the Arvada Bulldogs 21-0 for a Class 3A Metro League victory at Trailblazer Stadium.
So, uh, how does it feel to win for the first time since Oct. 30, 2008?
"A little confusing," defensive standout Nick Keitlen said. "I feel like I should be depressed right now."
OK, so even celebrating takes some practice.
After getting shut out and pounded the previous two weeks by rival Conifer and D’Evelyn, the Cougars scored in the opening 53 seconds, converted two of the four turnovers they forced into touchdowns, and got a shutout to boot by controlling the line of scrimmage against the Bulldogs (1-6).
"We had the incentive because (coach Rob) Moholm agreed that if we got the shutout, he’s going to run our conditioning with us," Keitlen said.
Running back Nic Johnson rushed for 119 yards and scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, and part-time quarterback Alex Fricke scored on a 1-yard plunge with 8:47 remaining in the second quarter.
Fricke threw for 64 yards in the first half, spreading the ball around to Ansley, Sam Keen, Michael Rogers, Jeremy Clark and Jared Thaut, who also rushed five times for 33 yards.
The game turned quickly for the Cougars when the Bulldogs fumbled the ball away on the third play, which staked the Cougars on the Arvada 11. One play later it was Johnson steaming his way through several would-be tacklers for a touchdown with 11:07 remaining.
The Cougars fumbled on their next drive but forced another turnover almost immediately to take over at the 50. The offense was again hitched to Johnson’s powerful legs and the senior didn’t disappoint, as he took the third carry to the end zone with a 29-yard run.
Evergreen would put together a more conventional drive for its final touchdown with a 63-yard drive that chewed up more than five minutes off the clock.
With the 21-0 lead, the Cougars’ offense sputtered more than anything for most the game. Rogers was unlucky not to have an interception return for a touchdown, but a penalty after he snagged the ball on Evergreen 47 cancelled most his yards.
Arvada had a few nice drives, but the Evergreen defense was better when it counted. Keitlen had a key tackle early in the fourth quarter to knock the Bulldogs back to the Evergreen 13 and ultimately keep the visitors out of the end zone.