Get on the bus. Tony Lindsay is driving. And he has plenty of seating for the Far Northeast Warriors.
An RTD driver, former Utah star running back and coach who resurrected Denver South from the prep-football doldrums, Lindsay has landed in an interesting corner, the high right of the metropolitan area. He opted to operate out of the old Montbello building, which used to ooze with talent under the tutelage of the late, beloved Ben Gregory when it was one school. The Warriors were city powers and in three straight big-school title games from 1989-91, also benefitting greatly from an area that uniquely was an inner-city school in its own suburb.
However, changing times, complete with poor school leadership, led to a talent base that was willing to pursue other Denver-area programs. The school was broken into segments and its once-proud athletic teams drawing from surrounding Green Valley Ranch schools were left to look for a common identity.
In the case of the football team, it has been looking for victories. Since 2004, FNE is 46-93, including 3-27 from 2014-15, 0-10 in 2015.
However, this yearâ€™s Warriors are 5-2 under Lindsay and on a three-game winning streak.
â€œConsidering where we were, Iâ€™m happy and weâ€™re going to be more happy as the weeks keep moving forward,â€ Lindsay said.
Just like when he headed Denver South, Lindsay said, he needed to immediately handle two things, and they werenâ€™t easy to overcome â€“ he had to get his players to believe that they could win and instill stiff discipline, as pouting, throwing helmets, earning needless penalties and, well, giving up was widespread.
Obstacles still abound in drawing from nine area schools â€“ three inside the old building — that make for late practices on a field with no lights, but Lindsay said heâ€™ll get that handled.
Indeed, FNE hasnâ€™t been a world-beater with victories over the likes of 3A Falcon, George Washington and Adams City, plus losses to 4A Golden and Northglenn, but significant improvement was on display in last weekâ€™s victory over Horizon. The Warriors trailed 21-0 at halftime.
â€œMy coaches just started coaching,â€ Lindsay said. â€œIt was (the Hawksâ€™) homecoming, and I was just walking in at halftime and they were telling them that itâ€™s too easy. Iâ€™m the one usually ranting and raving, but I didnâ€™t say a word.â€
Including with a key, late fake field goal, the Warriors won 22-21, arguably their best victory in years.
â€œIt was like a whole new team,â€ Lindsay said.
So far, Lindsay said, wide receiver Malik Fofana, two-way lineman Marcellous Burton, safety-running back Khaaliq Stevenson and running back-strong safety Keisean Parker account for some of the teamâ€™s top talent, and itâ€™s delivering.
The Warriors will continue Mt. Elbert League play away at winless Prairie ViewÂ on Friday, host Fossil Ridge, which has one victory, in Week 9, then meet fabled Cherry Creek in a regular-season finale.
â€œMy job here started by winning and keeping kids in our community,â€ Lindsay said. â€œI want to win a championship here and it can happen if I get the community behind me.â€
Overall, Week 8 in Class 5A could be great, and many of its top offerings are highlighted below for your viewing pleasure:
Cherry Creek (5-2) vs. Horizon (4-3),Â Friday,Â 7 p.m., Adams 12 North Stadium
Since losing 26-14 to two-time defending state champion and undefeated Valor Christian, the Bruins have put up consecutive 56-point games, both in the Mt. Elbert. â€¦ The Alex Padilla-to-Dimitri Stanley connection is prolific as well as productive — Padilla has 1,603 yards and 21 TD passes; Stanley has 56 receptions for 728 yards and 12 of the TDs. â€¦ The Hawks have permitted only 92 points that rank them fourth in 5A. â€¦ Two of Horizonâ€™s victories have come against teams with winning records, Overland and Mountain Range. â€¦ A long time ago, these two programs decided the 5A state title. In 1994, it was Cherry Creek and sophomore Darnell McDonald 47, Horizon and the Grable twins, Dean and Keith, 6.
Valor Christian (7-0) vs. Highlands Ranch (6-1),Â Friday, 7 p.m., Shea Stadium
You may wonder why these two donâ€™t play regularly â€“ the distance between them off Lincoln Avenue is negligible. You wouldnâ€™t come close to breaking a sweat. â€¦ Valor is bidding for its first undefeated season in 5A. The Eagles were 14-0 twice, in 2009 and 2011, both in lower classes. â€¦ There have been seven consecutive Mt. Lincoln victories for the Eagles. â€¦ Joshia Davis has rushed for 10 TDs and caught passes for four more. â€¦ The Falcons have won three straight games, most recently by 38-34 over Fountain-Fort Carson. â€¦ Highlands Ranch rushed for 243 yards last week, 132 on 16 carries by Dominic Bettini, who also found the end zone three times. â€¦ It also attempted only four passes, completing two for 37 yards. â€¦ Valor won last yearâ€™s meeting 43-7.
Fairview (6-1) at Mullen (3-4),Â Friday,Â 7 p.m., Brother Bernard Kinneavy Field at de La Salle Stadium
The one blemish on Fairviewâ€™s mark is a 35-14 defeat to Columbine to open the Mt. Cameron season. â€¦ Fresh from a 31-21 victory over ThunderRidge, the Knights have scored 24-or-more points in each of their victories. â€¦ Over several seasons, Fairview has had its QB leading or near the 5A lead in passing. Itâ€™s happening again. QB Aidan Atkinson has thrown for 1,890 yards and 16 TDs against only two interceptions. â€¦ Injuries have handcuffed Mullen for much of the season and itâ€™s the second consecutive season its QB has gone down. Junior Dom DePizzol, who ironically came in for the 2016 starter before going down with an injury himself, broke his right thumb (on his throwing hand) on the last play of practice the pastÂ Tuesday. Sophomore Kyle Remington was 10-of-22 for 81 yards, a TD and three interceptions last week against Columbine on one day of practice. â€¦ The Rebels beat the Mustangs 41-24.
Grandview (5-2) vs. Doherty (5-2),Â Friday,Â 7 p.m., Garry Berry Stadium
After losing to undefeated Eaglecrest and rival Cherry Creek, the Wolves have blitzed their past three foes by an aggregate 132-19. â€¦ Grandview is the defending Mt. Massive champion, has won seven straight league games and outscored its opposition by a combined 354-90. â€¦ The matchup is for the league lead. â€¦ Doherty has won two straight game. â€¦ The Spartansâ€™ 277 points are second in 5A only to Pomonaâ€™s 291. â€¦ RB Julian Cooks has 1,126 yards rushing, averages 7.2 yards per carry and gone for 15 TDs. â€¦ QB Logan Siffert has thrown for 598 yards, 11 TDs and just two interceptions in 93 attempts â€¦ Grandview won last yearâ€™s meeting 65-27.
Lakewood (5-2) vs. Poudre (5-2),Â Friday,Â 7 p.m., French Field
A couple of programs in the Mt. Lincoln that have stumbled a bit after strong starts â€“ Lakewood won its first five games before dropping its last two, most recently 41-7 to Valor; Poudre won its first four and dropped two in a row before taking down Legend 29-19 last week. So the time to turn it around is now. â€¦ The Tigers had just 132 yards of offense, only 32 rushing, against Valor. â€¦ Pierce Holley threw for a TD to Elias Borjas. Defensively, Lakewood was hit for 428 yards. â€¦ The Impalasâ€™ Joseph Erickson rushed 34 times for 242 yards and two TDs. In all, Poudre rushed for a whopping 312 yards and had 410 from scrimmage against Legend.
Also keep an eye on â€¦
Bear Creek (3-4) vs. Legacy (4-3),Â Thursday,Â 7 p.m., Adams 12 North Stadium
Suddenly feisty Bears have won two straight games, scored 65 points in eight quarters and can smell .500 as well as 3-0 in the Mt. Antero League; Lightning whipped Aurora Central 44-0 last week after dropping two in a row.
Columbine (6-1) vs. Northglenn (5-2),Â Thursday,Â 6 p.m., Five Star Stadium
Rebels are riding high behind QB Logan DeArment, tamed Mullen last week and have outright control of the Mt. Cameron; terrific start by the emerging Norse was stymied a bit last week in a 20-9 setback to another up-and-comer and district rival, Mountain Range.
Fountain-Fort Carson (4-3) vs. Legend (3-4),Â Thursday, 7 p.m., EchoPark Automotive Stadium
Rallying is relevant here. Trojans were rolled last week by Highlands Ranch after winning three straight, one in the Mt. Lincoln; Titans and Nebraska commit Tate Wildeman have dropped three-of-four games.
Rocky Mountain (3-4) vs. Arvada West (5-2),Â Thursday, 7:30 p.m., NAAC
Lobos ended a two-game skid last week as Jordan Yancey rushed for two TDs in 17-14 squeaker against Castle View; A-West fell 20-17 to Ralston Valley, a Mt. Lincoln loss that ended a five-game winning streak.
ThunderRidge (2-5) vs. Mountain Range (4-3),Â Friday,Â 7 p.m., Five Star Stadium
Only eight 5A teams have scored fewer than the 109 points the Grizzlies have generated, including last weekâ€™s 31-21 setback to Fairview; the Mustangs already have won more games than the past three seasons combined are close to assuring a .500 season.
Chaparral (5-2) vs. Rock Canyon (4-3),Â Friday,Â 7 p.m., EchoPark Stadium
Wolverines have won four straight games and are tied with Pomona for the Mt. Evans lead at 2-0; Jaguars have given up 86 points over their past two games after a 4-1 start.