Thornton football reclaims I-25 Cup from Northglenn

Lightnight delays, but can’t stop, upset win for Trojans

Adam Hothersall
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 9/11/19

It has been 14 years since the Thornton football program had defeated cross-town rival Northglenn. Despite some early obstacles and a late comeback attempt from the Norsemen, the Trojans flipped the …

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Thornton football reclaims I-25 Cup from Northglenn

Lightnight delays, but can’t stop, upset win for Trojans

Posted

It has been 14 years since the Thornton football program had defeated cross-town rival Northglenn. Despite some early obstacles and a late comeback attempt from the Norsemen, the Trojans flipped the script, finally, with a 27-21 win on Aug. 30.

Emotions ran high from both fanbases after the opening kickoff, but unpredictable Colorado weather intervened as the contest experienced a 52-minute lightning delay, halting game-action and forcing spectators out of the stadium.

With energy resurfacing again at 7:57 p.m., both squads ran back onto the field, and the Thornton offense didn’t get off to their strongest start in school history. After the first-play fumble, Northglenn accepted prime field position at the 25-yard line of the Trojans.

Three plays later, it looked as if history once was again going to repeat itself after Norse junior quarterback D’angelo Montoya scampered into the endzone from six yards out, giving the road team a 7-0 lead just 49 seconds into the affair. Things couldn’t get worse for the Trojans to start right? It did.

After three plays and 36 yards, another fumble gave possession right back to Northglenn two minutes later. Looking to throw the haymaker, the Norse only accounted for five yards on the drive. This is when Thornton caught their breath, regrouped and changed the trajectory of the ballgame.

The opening score for the Trojans began with a short punt from the Norsemen, two pass-interference calls and a 14-yard touchdown pass from senior Ethan Gonzales to senior tight end and newcomer, JR William. William — a transfer student from Texas — added his second score on an 80-yard TD reception three minutes later to give Thornton a 14-7 lead with 1:10 left in the first.

Then, returning the favor of two early turnovers, Northglenn put the ball on the ground and Trojans’ senior Travis Tidwell jumped on the loose ball at the Norse’s 10-yard line. Two plays later, all-around athlete and sophomore Miles Poole took the direct snap from the wildcat formation and rumbled his way into the endzone with 51 seconds left in the first, giving Thornton a 20-7 lead. This margin held to halftime.

“JR is a handful. Being 6’4”, 220 (lbs), he’s a very hard cover,” second-year Thornton coach Nick Trombetta said postgame. “We have seen some things on film that we were going to be able to take advantage of. On the other hand, Miles is only a 10th grader. The quarterback thing is just something that we tried, and we were fortunate—- outside of some ball security issues—- it’s all natural ability for him. The sky is the limit for that guy.”

The two also made their presence felt defensively at defensive end (William) and linebacker (Poole) respectively. Leading a unit that played flawlessly throughout the opening half, the Trojans held the fleet-footed Montoya and the Norse offense to 147 yards on 31 plays (4.74 yards per play). Thornton offensively recorded 202 yards on 33 plays (6.12 ypp).

Things continued sideways for the road team in the third quarter despite a solid nine-play drive to open the half that ended in a sack-fumble recovery from William. A 56-yard TD pass to freshman Isacc Gomez over the middle expanded the lead to 27-7 with 6:59 remaining in the third. It looked as if Northglenn was dead in the water, but you don’t win 14-straight against a rival by laying down.

Montoya, who had been contained in the rushing category the majority of three quarters, broke through in a big way down the stretch. Carrying the team on his back, the speedster accounted for 10 rushes for 90 yards after falling behind 20 points. Northglenn made things interesting with a touchdown pass from Montoya to freshman Brian Dykstra from 24 yards out with just 5:43, cutting the lead to 13.

After a failed onside-kick conversion, a stop from the Norse defense put the ball back in Montoya’s hands with 2:32 left, praying for a miracle. Five plays later and just one minute and four seconds coming off the clock, a 39-yard sprint from Montoya to the endzone cut the lead to six with 1:28 still left.

The feeling of shock from the Thornton faithful was in the air after the game looked to be well within hands just a few minutes before. Armed with three timeouts, another Northglenn stop defensively put everyone in the stands on the edge of their seat. The junior quarterback would get one final shot with one minute left and everything on the line.

Driving to the 8-yard line of the opposition, a late-hit penalty pushed the ball back to the 30 with five seconds left. Taking a shot to the endzone as the final horn sounded, pure elation, as the pass fell incomplete and the Thornton students bombarded the field. The streak is finally over.

“We work hard, we condition hard, and we know that things are not going to go 100 percent all of the time. We weren’t really discouraged by the turnovers, this is a different Trojan team,” Trombetta said with a smile and the I-25 Cup in his arms. “In the past — those bad things — we would have folded, and that’s not in these guys. Being a graduate at this school, it was about uplifting what’s important here. This game is always ultra-important, and that was my No. 1 goal, to end the streak. I was happy to be able to accomplish that, and I’m so proud of the boys. What a night.”

What a start to the 2019 Colorado High School season as well. Nothing quite better than two rivals slugging it out.

“I can honestly say I don’t know if it has sunk in yet. I don’t want to make it about me, the boys went out and did the work. I got a lot of positive messages and different things from alumni, and it’s great to see some of our former players here. It feels great to give the community of Thornton High School something to cheer about because its been pretty dry in the football realm for quite a while, so hopefully, this is a launching pad to better things for us.”

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