KEENESBURG — Rob Molholm was expecting the growing pains. After all, how could there not be with his Evergreen Cougars replacing 19 starters — 21 if you include the place-kicker and punter — from last season’s 9-2 3A state playoff team.
And there was plenty for the Evergreen head coach not to like in the season opener Aug. 25 at Weld Central.
Such as the Cougars’ four turnovers — two of which came in the game’s first 2 minutes, 5 seconds.
Or a turnover on the Weld Central 1-yard line after Joel Davis fumbled a pass from John Cassell on a play that wasn’t supposed to happen in the first place. Evergreen audibled out of a planned run on 2nd-and-goal.
Or a missed 40-yard field goal by Chase Kelley, even though the senior kicker had the distance but missed wide left.
Or a blocked extra point right before half.
But there were a fair share of positives as well in what turned out to be a 26-0 EHS victory.
Like Connor Kissler’s two rushing touchdowns en route to 123 yards on just 11 carries.
“We didn’t come out as our normal selves. (But) we made a few adjustments and things started to click after that,” Kissler said. “I had a few big runs and the team started rolling behind us.” Tanner Cassin later added a 14-yard TD run.
— Or his defense’s three forced turnovers, including Zach Propst’s 63-yard interception return in the fourth to close out the scoring.
“We’re really young this year. The offense wasn’t really rolling at first so we were just trying to keep up the intensity trying to force turnovers,” Propst said. “We were kind of not hanging on to the ball. I was just trying to step up and give us a boost.”
Or his defense’s goal-line stand in the first quarter after Weld Central had 1st-and-goal from the 3.
It all added up to the seventh shutout for Molholm’s defense in now his fourth year as head coach. But it’s the first in a season opener. The 26-point win is also the largest margin of victory for the Cougars in an opener under Molholm.
Weld Central, moving up to 3A from 2A, certainly did it’s part to help the cause after twice going for it on fourth down in its own territory. Both times the Rebels were stuffed.
Molholm had no answers for why Weld Central head coach Mike Brown would roll the dice like that.
“Traditional football would be to punt on that. I don’t want to bad mouth their coaching staff. I was just shocked, but it worked out to our favor,” Molholm said. “I don’t know what he was thinking over there. ... Maybe he was sparking his offense. Maybe he saw something, a weakness in our defense.”
Whatever it was Molholm didn’t need to know. All he knew was while Evergreen did more than enough to start off 1-0. That’s all that mattered.
EVERGREEN 26, WELD CENTRAL 0
WELD CENTRAL 0-0-0-0—0
E: Connor Kissler 27 run (kick blocked)
E: Kissler 20 run (Chase Kelley kick)
E: Tanner Cassin 14 run (kick failed)
E: Zach Propst 63 interception return (Kelley kick)