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CONIFER — Conifer and Frederick high schools were among the teams outside the Top 10 receiving votes in the CHSAA preseason football poll. But based on their Aug. 30 opener, there is a substantial gap between them.
Frederick coach Thad Lear conceded his team has a long way to go after the visiting Warriors could do little right from the opening kickoff in a 31-0 loss that provided Larry Fitzmaurice, the only coach in Conifer history, his 100th victory.
“I feel like I was outcoached and our kids were outplayed. This one’s on us,’’ Lear said. “We’ve all got to take responsibility. The coaches are going to go back and we’re going to work hard and get better. I know the kids will do everything we ask them to. We’ve got a good group of kids.’’
Conifer, a perennial 3A state qualifier, dominated Frederick on both sides of the ball. The Lobos outgained the Warriors 366-138 yards and turned two interceptions of junior quarterback Mike Lamb into touchdowns.
The Warriors dug themselves an early hole by failing to catch the opening kickoff. They began the game’s first possession at their 1-yard line and went three-and-out. Conifer proceeded to march 62 yards for the opening touchdown, then went 52 yards to score following another Frederick punt.
“You know what? We could point a lot of different ways, but it was a collective effort,’’ Lear said of the botched opening kickoff.
Frederick’s offense struggled to get untracked, gaining just 13 total yards on nine plays in the first quarter while falling behind 12-0. A Wyatt Wiklund interception returned to the Warrior 23 set Conifer up for its third score, an 11-yard run by Kailib Geer, and an 18-0 lead with 5:38 left in the first half.
Following a Conifer fumble recovered by Eric Worley on the third play of the second half, the Warriors put together their only substantial drive. Aided by consecutive 15- and 10-yard penalties by the Lobos defense, and twice converting on fourth down, Frederick marched to a first-and-goal at the 6. But on fourth down from the 2, Conifer stopped Ben Vue a yard short of the end zone.
“They did a nice job on their goal line,’’ Lear said of Conifer’s defense. “We’ll build on the positive and try to fix the negative.’’
“We had some young kids that we put in the game that did some nice things for us,’’ Lear said. “At times moved the ball, we did some good things. The kids ran hard. We saw some good lead blocking out of people. We just weren’t consistent.’’
Lamb, who played some quarterback in 2013, finished 6-of-13 passing for 58 yards, four of those to Eric Worley for 38 yards. Frederick managed just 80 yards on 37 rushes, 39 of those coming on a run by Anthony Taylor, whose move from a wideout into the backfield after Conifer’s third score provided a bit of a spark. Taylor finished with 49 yards on five rushes, Vue netted just 26 yards on 16 carries and Jordan DeFalco had 21 yards on five carries.
Lamb “did a nice job for us today,’’ Lear said. “He made a couple mistakes. But, you know, any time you get down on a team and you have to throw, you’ve got to be perfect.’’
Conifer quarterback/defensive back Vaughn Brasseaux was 9-of-9 passing for 144 yards and two touchdowns and capped the scoring with a 40-yard interception return late in the third quarter. Geer had 75 yards and two TDs rushing, and Wyatt Wiklund and Richie Benson each had four catches and a touchdown, Wiklund turning poor coverage into an 80-yard catch-and-run after Frederick couldn’t convert its one scoring chance.
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