Will Fisher has been one of the ThunderRidge varsity football team’s defensive leaders all season.
So it wasn’t surprising to see Fisher come up with the big defensive play of the game in ThunderRidge’s 23-17 second-round playoff victory over Arapahoe.
Arapahoe was trailing by six points and mounting a drive that could have resulted in a tying touchdown and possible a go-ahead extra point.
The Warriors were inside the Grizzlies 20-yard line but Fisher recovered an Warriors fumble at the 5-yard line with 1:42 to play in the game.
ThunderRidge, thanks mostly to the running of Cole Hanchett who gained 130 yards in the game, ran out the clock and will advance into the quarterfinals where the 11-1 Grizzlies will have to face three-time defending state champions Cherry Creek (9-2) in the quarterfinals.
Sean Grow forced the fumble and Fisher recovered.
Aiden Olshan led the Grizzlies with 10 total tackles while Fisher had eight.
“That was a big turnover we got,” said ThunderRidge head coach Doug Nisenson. “When our offense started to sputter at the end, our defense stepped up really big. When one side needs help the other side steps up. I’m just proud of these guys.”
Fisher, a 5-foot-10, 195-pound middle linebacker, has 95 tackles this season and he was credited with his second fumble recovery against Arapahoe, which beat the Grizzlies twice last season including a 23-16 loss in the playoffs.
ThunderRidge’s offense was led by freshman quarterback DJ Bordeaux who threw for 193 yards and three touchdown passes and will be one of the players directing the Grizzlies into their 13th week of action. Richard Okono caught all three scoring passes from Bordeaux.
“For this team, they love the tight games,” added Nisenson. “We really believe we can make something happen as long as we put ourselves in a situation to have a chance at the end.
“We need to figure out how to create a 14th week which will be a heck of a challenge against a good team. I’m just grateful we get to go into a 13th week with this group.”
In other second-round games played on Nov. 4, Cherry Creek whipped Fountain Fort Carson 42-6. Valor Christian (9-2) got past Legend 42-14 and will now face Regis Jesuit, a team that beat the Eagles in overtime during the first game of the season. Regis whipped Fossil Ridge 63-28 in the second round.
In Class 4A playoff action, Ponderosa (9-2) scored 19 second-half points to down Pueblo West 33-14. Heritage (8-3) got 145 yards rushing and two TDs from Syria Siegler and a score from quarterback Noah Shoen who ran for 99 yards in a 21-10 win over Mesa Ridge.
Lutheran (9-2) clobbered Pueblo East, 49-6, in the Class 3A playoffs after grabbing a 28-6 halftime advantage. The Lions will host Frederick in the next round on Nov. 19 at 1 p.m.
Other games on Nov. 19 have ThunderRidge at Cherry Creek in a 1 p.m. game while Regis plays at Valor Christian. Heritage travels to Broomfield and Erie is on the road against Ponderosa.