ARVADA – Ralston Valley is playing its own brand of Madden football. But as much as the numbers or highlight-reel plays might seem like it, this is no video game.

Logan Madden is very much the real deal and he’s getting into mid-season form. He threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns as the Colorado Preps No. 9 Mustangs rolled to a 30-15 win over No. 5 Grandview.

It was the best the team has looked all season and comes as a result of coach Jared Yannacito remembering that just because his team is loaded with seniors that the players will simply walk on the field and start the year in mid-season form.

“The bye week was getting back to basics,” he said. “We have some seniors that I took for granted the process that it takes. So we got back to the basics. Firing off the football, lining up correctly, having correct splits and focusing on things that take absolutely no talent.”

Heading into Friday night’s tilt at the North Area Athletic Complex, the Mustangs (2-1 overall) the hype was surrounding two of Class 5A’s top quarterbacks for 2023. Madden was a standout as a junior last season and Grandview’s Liam Szarka was every bit as good as he led the Wolves (2-1) to the state quarterfinals where they fell to Pine Creek.

But it was Szarka who struggled to figure out the Mustangs defense. And when Madden got the ball on his first drive, he marched his time right down the field, completing just one pass under 10 yards. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Brady Weldon.

“It was nice because we finally had a game plan,” Madden said. “We played two teams and didn’t have film on them from this year. We had a game plan finally and came out and executed. We were hungry from that [Cherry] Creek loss.”

If the first drive of the game was about execution, the final drive of the first half was about flash. Madden evaded a Grandview rush and heaved the ball down the field to connect with Anthony Benallo for a 40-yard touchdown catch, easily the play of the night.

“It was a double move to Jackson [Hansen], actually,” Madden said. “I looked out right before the play and was like ‘Hey Ants, why don’t you run it too.’ It was a last resort type thing. There was pressure on my left, I escaped right and just gave my guy a chance.”

That score made it 17-0 and the Mustangs continued to work efficiently on offense in the second half. Weldon ran for another short score and Madden found Hansen on a 21-yard touchdown pass to put the game out of reach. The road doesn’t get any easier for the Mustangs as they take on Regis Jesuit and Valor Christian, respectively, in the next two weeks. The Raiders suffered their first loss of the season, falling to Arapahoe while Valor Christian battled back to beat Fairview 29-28 for its first win in 2023.

But the Mustangs welcome the challenge, hoping that it strengthens the team to make a deep playoff run when November rolls around.

“I challenge our to breathe, pause and it’s one practice at a time, one game at a time,” Yannacito said. “Let’s not think of the future and all that. Let’s have a good Monday practice. Then a good Tuesday practice. We really got back to those basics and not looking ahead.”