The two top dogs in Fort Collins high school football acted like they belonged on the big stage Friday night.
Poudre and Fossil Ridge are both surging as the season passes the halfway mark and the bright lights and grand spectacle of Colorado State's Canvas Stadium didn't faze either in the inaugural Canvas Classic showdown.
The doubleheader of rivalry games ended with two blowout wins as two Front Range League and high playoff seed frontrunners flexed their muscles.
Poudre beat longtime rival Rocky Mountain 34-7 in the first game as the Impalas moved to 5-1 with five wins in a row. The Lobos fell to 3-3.
Fossil Ridge won the Harmony Cup by taking down Fort Collins 46-21 in the nightcap as the SaberCats moved to 5-1. The Lambkins fell to 1-5.
Here are the best performances from the two games.
This Poudre defense, folks. They are balling!
It was almost an upset that the Impalas even allowed a touchdown. No worries, though, as Jones Thomas recovered a fumble and ran it in for a touchdown to make sure Poudre’s defense scored as much as Rocky Mountain’s offense.
That TD from Thomas blew the game open. It was Poudre’s second TD in 8 seconds early in the second half to turn a close game into a blowout.
This defense did it all.
Jordan Niesent had two interceptions. Brody VanCleave had multiple sacks and a forced fumble. Ryan Vandever added an interception.
Poudre’s defense hasn’t allowed double-digit points since the second game of the season and is allowing a miniscule 4.6 points per game during this five-game winning streak.
The skilled players on Poudre’s team were everywhere. Niesent had his two picks, plus a TD run. Thomas added a long punt return to go with his fumble return TD.
Colton Mills-Younger had multiple big receptions from Quentin Harms, and Saje Camirand ran well all game while notching two rushing touchdowns.
The best play of the day might have been Logan Correll’s one-handed grab on a 6-yard TD catch.
— Kevin Lytle (@Kevin_Lytle) September 30, 2022
Rocky Mountain’s quality in spurts
It wasn’t the best day for Rocky Mountain, but there were a few bright spots. Abe Chatila had a touchdown run, which was set up by a great throw and catch from freshman QB Riley Honick to Owen Powers to put Rocky Mountain in the red zone.
Will Pryor was a menace on the defensive line, with an early sack and pass knocked down.
The Colton Pawlak show continues
A starting QB going down for a lengthy period dooms most high school teams, but Fossil Ridge has found a gem of a way to turn a bad situation into a great one.
Purely out of necessity after Tyler Kubat was injured four games ago, the SaberCats turned to a wildcard solution. Er, check that: Wildcat solution.
He throws some, runs often, is tackled rarely and celebrates touchdowns often. Here's a brief summary of his day:
First series Friday: 43-yard TD run.
Second series: 2-yard TD run.
Second quarter: 22-yard TD pass to Trek Keyworth.
Later in second quarter: 45-yard TD run.
First drive of second half: 69-yard TD run.
Those five TDs give Pawlak a whopping 15 since Kubat was hurt four games ago (and 16 total on the season). If there were a Class 5A MVP award, Pawlak would be right in the running.
Nicky Maguire, the speed demon
The Lambkins may have been unable to slow the Fossil Ridge offense, but speedy star Nicky Maguire put on a bit of a show of his own for the Fort Collins offense.
The Lambkins were struggling to get anything going early until they turned to their own version of a wildcat with Maguire taking direct snaps.
He quickly ripped a long run of more than 40 yards and immediately followed it with a 7-yard TD run in the second quarter to briefly keep Fort Collins in the game. Then, in the second half, he fought through a pass interference to catch a deep ball from EZ Campos and score a 68-yard receiving touchdown.
Maguire is a bright spot in a tough season for the Lambkins.
Campos also threw a 15-yard TD pass to Alex Augustine, who also recorded an interception.
This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Top performances from Canvas Classic at Colorado State