Having a gritty offense has almost become a requirement to survive among this bunch.
That’s the one similarity that runs through most of the teams in the Class 4A Longs Peak football Conference, and it was put on display Friday night at Dudley Field in Windsor.
The No. 3 Wizards hosted Thompson Valley High School in a game that boiled down to which defense could sustain the longest.
Windsor, which boasts the top defense in 4A, retained their spot on top, holding on for a 7-6 victory at home on senior night.
“Every week it’s tough,” Windsor coach Chris Jones said. “This year, our league is very difficult, very challenging; good defense on every team.”
The difference in the one-point game came down to one of 25 total penalties, which resulted in a missed extra point for the Eagles (6-3, 2-2 LPC).
The Wizards (8-1, 3-1 LPC) drew first blood midway through the second quarter when quarterback Brad Peeples punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to cap off an 11-play, 62-yard scoring drive.
From there, each team’s defense stood strong, forcing a collective five punts and two turnovers on downs that spanned into the fourth quarter.
Then with just more than five minutes to play, Thompson Valley’s Austin Emrick got a hand on a Windsor punt, which fell into the hands of Mike Berg who returned it 30 yards to the end zone.
After the play was over, however, the Eagles drew a personal foul call that pushed their point-after attempt to the 18-yard line, which missed wide left.
“That was a big penalty; that did help us,” Jones said. “I also think there were times we had big penalties that helped them as well.”
Windsor came close to putting the game away on the ensuing possession, traveling all the way to the Thompson Valley 6-yard line before turning the ball over on downs to give the Eagles a final shot with less than a minute to play.
But, on cue, the Wizards’ defense came though to seal the game when Storm Fox forced a fumble from quarterback Kanaan Turnbull which was recovered by Zach Watts on their first play after taking over.
“I saw it come out and knew I had to get it,” Watts said. “That ball wasn’t coming out of my arms no matter what. Great team win.”
Fox, Corte Tapia and Zach Moser each finished the game with one sack.
Offensively, the Wizards were led by Jake Shields, who made his return after missing last week’s game with 104 rushing yards on 14 carries.
Peeples added 96 yards with 22 touches and Landon Schmidt added 44 on eight carries.
Windsor will close out its regular season on the road at Adams City (3-6, 0-4 LPC) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Follow sports reporter Quentin Sickafoose at twitter.com/QSickafoose.
NO. 3 WINDSOR 7, THOMPSON VALLEY 6
WIND – Brad Peeples 1 run (Dylan Tufts kick good), 6:27.
TV – Mike Berg 30 punt return (kick failed), 5:10.