RYE – When the Rye football players are sitting through class on Monday morning, they know they’re in for Day 1 of a hard, physical week of practice. There’s no easing into the work they need to get done in order to come away with a win on a Friday night.

They get after it right away. Monday is a day in full pads. So are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

“It’s not that we’re ready to hit to each other,” senior Dylan Horne said. “We’re just ready to hit anything. We’re ready to go and we have passion for it.”

The passion was evident as Hurne scored three rushing touchdowns in a 27-12 win over Manitou Springs on Friday night. In the process of scoring those touchdowns, Hurne evaded tackles, got off the edge and broke for long runs and when he needed to, ran through defenders to get where he needed to be.

“He’s massive and he chews up so much of the field when he runs,” coach Conner Pigg said. “He has stepped up big time as an undisputed team captain and has really taken on a leadership role and put the team on his back.”

He runs with the style that fitting of Class 1A football. There is less flash in the 48 minutes of regulation. Snap the ball, follow the offense line and when necessary, shove the other guy out of the way.

“Once you get up to that 5A, it’s more of a TV show,” Hurne said. “When you get to these farm boy little towns, we just like to hit each other and just play old, traditional football.”

He excels at his description of old, traditional football. And he looks like a kid that could go to a full day of school, grind through a full football practice and go home and dig a new water well if needed.

Football fits well with Hurne and the full Thunderbolts (1-0 overall) roster. This is a team coming into the 2023 season with a bad taste in its mouth after losing to Yuma in the 1A playoffs last year.

(Dan Mohrmann/ColoradoPreps.com)

“I counted the other day and we have six guys that have been here all four years and were starting as freshmen,” quarterback Nolan Schauer said. “Our leadership is great all the way around. Better than any year that I have been here.”

Schauer threw a touchdown pass late in Rye’s win to keep the Mustangs (1-1) out of reach. Manitou had cut the lead to 14-6 in the third quarter on a touchdown pass from Nate Gentzel to Preston Rhodes, but the leadership of Rye’s roster didn’t let the team get phased and regained control with another scoring drive that ended in a Hurne touchdown.

The Thunderbolts play the brand of football needed to make deep playoff runs at the 1A level and it showed when they needed it. On several drives they faced a 3rd or 4th and 1 and opted to pick up the 1st down with nothing but sheer force.

“Everyone on our team knows that our line is amazing and hits harder than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Schauer said. “Our offense is just go go go at practice.”

The practices are fueled with the intensity of unfinished business. The Thunderbolts are still angry about last year’s playoff loss to Yuma. It’s on their minds constantly and it’s the motivation they need to put together a successful 2023 season.

“We won’t let it happen again, Schauer says definitely.