LAKEWOOD — Columbine needed overtime the past two weeks to handle sub-.500 teams. Two of the Rebels' defensive ends were sidelined for Week 7 because of injury and another physical problem forced coach Andy Lowry to go with a backup quarterback.
To make matters worse on Friday afternoon at Jefferson County Stadium, Arapahoe returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown.
"It scared us," Rebels junior running back Cameron McDondle said. "It's not how you want to start a game."
Not it's not, but it didn't matter — the Rebels scored the first five times they had possession, ensured the outcome by halftime and rolled to a 48-27 Big 6 League victory.
Ranked No. 3 in The Denver Post/9News Class 5A poll, they are 7-0 overall, tied with Mullen atop the league and may be nearing overdrive as the postseason is due in three weeks.
Of Colorado's fall certainties, there will be gorgeous weather, major interest in football on all levels and Columbine will be a rushing force. On Friday, the Rebels ran it 61 times for 421 yards and there was nothing 10th-ranked Arapahoe (5-2, 2-1) could do about it.
"They know what they're doing and they do it better than anybody," Warriors coach Mike Campbell said. "We needed to stay within a score to have a chance to beat them."
They didn't. The Rebels munched yardage and clock as if they were Tostitos and guacamole. First McDondle, who upped his season totals to 1,300 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns, capped an eight-play drive with a 6-yard run.
It was only the beginning. Replacement quarterback Justin Brown, who may turn into the starter, Lowry said, capped another eight-play drive with his own 6-yarder as Columbine had the lead for good. Next were: Jonathan Beverly topping a nine-play possession with a 9-yarder; McDondle breaking free on the first play for a 61-yarder; and Brown, a lefty, finding a wide-open Tyler Thomas for a 45-yarder to cap a three-play scoring drive.
Just like that, it was 35-7 1:01 before halftime.
McDondle's final effort, a 42-yarder —fourth-and-4 — on the first drive of the second half, made it 42-7.
Good evening. Nice to see you. Bring on Bear Creek in Week 8 and Mullen to cap the regular season.
"The kids have really come together and played well," Lowry said. "(The two overtime victories) I think helped to build character and mental toughness."
Physical toughness, too, as Eric Sander-Cederlof, Dylan Baker, Parker Clough, Brady Young, Harry Ulricksen, Simon Kafati and Tripp Heslin are putting up a cement-enforced, cinder-block wall on offense.
Defensively, an unusually flat Arapahoe managed some late scores, but the Rebels, who punted once, with less than 3 minutes to play, also blocked a field goal and made an interception in additon to their stops when the game was on the line.
"We just got tough," McDondle said. "We played with who we had and we got it done."
Said Lowry: "(Arapahoe's) a good football team, they're physical and tough, so our kids did a good job.
"We've always had injuries, everyone from Ryan Miller to Curtis Cunningham, so we have to step up and respond."
Arapahoe 7 0 7 13 — 27
Columbine14 21 7 6 — 48
A — Griffin 99 kickoff return (Semin kick). C — McDondle 6 run (Krueger kick). C — Brown 6 run (Krueger kick). C — Beverly 9 run (Krueger kick). C — McDondle 61 run (Krueger kick). C — Thomas 45 pass from Brown (Krueger kick). C — McDondle 42 run (Krueger kick). A — Ratterman 1 pass from Gieser (Semin kick). C — Beverly 1 run (kick blocked). A — Ratterman 19 pass from Gieser (pass failed). A — Carrethers 3 run (Semin kick).