LOVELAND — Loveland football coach Wayne McGinn was ready to find out just how good his team is this season.
The Indians, who are ranked No. 2 in Class 4A, had easily cruised through their first two games – outscoring their opponents 102-0. But they got their first true test Thursday night when they took on Ralston Valley, the No. 8 team in 5A.
McGinn got the answer he was hoping for: His team could compete with the best of them, regardless of classification. That was evident following a 21-17 Loveland victory at Ray Patterson Stadium that kept the Indians’ undefeated season (3-0) intact.
The Indians were also the first team to deal the Mustangs (3-1) a loss this year.
“My first thought was, ‘Why did we put them (Ralston Valley) on the schedule?’,” McGinn said jokingly. “My second thought was that this was going to be a good measuring step. It was going to show how good we actually are.”
Loveland’s high-flying offense was true to form early in Thursday’s win.
Senior quarterback Riley Kinney capped off a 72-yard touchdown drive with a 5-yard run in the opening quarter for the game’s first points. Then, a fumble recovery by senior Sean Boylan led to another Loveland touchdown via 10-yard rush from senior Isaiah Meyers on its next possession that surged the Indians out to a quick 14-0 lead.
But Ralston Valley refused to let the game slip too far away.
The Mustangs were able to cut away at their deficit with a 5-yard touchdown pass from junior Walker Brickle to junior wide receiver J.J. Galbreath. That was followed by a 38-yard field goal from senior kicker Karsten Barndt to pull within 14-10 at halftime.
Ralston Valley then grabbed its first lead of the game after the break when Brickle punched a touchdown run in from the 1-yard line.
That lead, however, was short-lived as Loveland responded with another Kinney rushing touchdown from 17 yards out to regain control and fend off the Mustangs.
“I think it shows that we can probably go against anybody in the state of Colorado,” McGinn said.
Senior running back Cody Rakowsky led Loveland in rushing with 90 yards on seven carries, while Kinney finished with 68 on 13 touches and senior Zach Weinmaster added 66 through his 16 carries. Brad Roberts, also a senior, had the top rushing honors for Ralston Valley with 87 yards on 18 attempts.
Kinney also contributed 89 passing yards for Loveland, while senior quarterback A.J. Jergensen and Brickle each had 45 for the Mustangs.