Back to basics works as Ralston Valley dominates Grandview

Dennis Pleuss, Jeffco Public Schools
Posted 9/11/23

An extra week to refocus is just what Ralston Valley’s football team needed.

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Back to basics works as Ralston Valley dominates Grandview


An extra week to refocus is just what Ralston Valley’s football team needed.

“The bye week was getting back to basics,” Ralston Valley coach Jared Yannacito said about what the Mustangs did with having two weeks to prepare for Grandview after playing Zero Week and Week 1. “We went back to basics … firing off the football, lining up correctly, having correct splits, focusing on things that takes no talent. The fundamentals of football.”

The Mustangs — No. 9 in this week’s Select Media Football Poll — picked apart No. 5 Grandview 30-15 late Friday night at the North Area Athletic Complex. The score actually didn’t indicate how much Ralston Valley (2-1 record) dominated Grandview (2-1).

Ralston Valley went up 24-0 midway through the third quarter on the second short touchdown run of the night by senior Brady Weldon. The Wolves scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter after Yannacito put in the Mustangs’ back-ups.

“We just knew that our defense can play with anybody in the state,” Ralston Valley senior defensive lineman Tyrese Johnson said. “We just have to do the little things right and we’ll get it done.”

The Mustangs were coming off a 35-9 loss to No. 1 Cherry Creek (3-0). The Bruins outscored Ralston Valley 28-0 through the final three quarters at Stutler Bowl on Aug. 25.

“The bye week was a blessing,” Johnson said. “It gave us time to recuperate after what happened against Creek. We saw the mistakes and fixed them.”

Ralston Valley’s defense shutout Grandview through the first three quarters putting constant pressure on senior quarterback Liam Szarka. The Wolves came in averaging 43 points per game in blowout victories against Overland and Fossil Ridge.

“I’m extremely proud of our defense,” Yannacito said. “They held a very good team with a very good quarterback to very little points.”

Offensively, Ralston Valley scored on its first three offensive positions. Weldon had is first touchdown with 7:31 left in the first quarter to give the Mustangs an early lead in their home opener. Sophomore Cole Pfeifer kicked a 24-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first quarter to push the lead to 10-0.

“Offensively we took with the defense gave us,” Yannacito said of the balanced attack. “It was nice to have game film of your opponent.”

Grandview had its best drive on the first half in an attempt to cut the lead to one score, but the Wolves missed a 27-yard field goal and Ralston Valley took advantage on the most spectacular touchdown of the night.

Ralston Valley senior quarterback Logan Madden showed off his arm strength with a 50-yard throw to the end zone caught by senior Anthony Benallo with 2:29 left before halftime to extend the lead to 17-0.

“We had a double-move to Jackson (Hansen) actually,” Madden said talking about the 39-yard touchdown pass to Benallo. “Right before the play I looked to Anthony and told him to run it too. It was a last resort kind of thing.”

Madden got pressure from his left, but was able to escape to his right and launch the pass off his back foot to Benallo.

“Logan is a clutch player. He makes clutch plays when you need clutch plays,” Yannacito said. “He has be doing it for me for two years now. It really doesn’t surprise me.”

Ralston Valley opened up the second half with a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive capped off by another short touchdown run by Weldon. The Mustangs’ defense forced Grandview to turn the ball over on downs on the Wolves next possession.

Madden orchestrated another scoring drive the ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass to senior Jackson Hansen to give Ralston Valley a comfortable 30-0 lead with 9:26 left in the game.

“I challenged our team to go back to breathe and pause,” Yannacito said of getting back to business after the loss to Cherry Creek. “It’s one practice at a time. It’s one game at a time. Let’s not think about the future.”

The future this season will unfortunately be without receiver Liam Beattie. The junior had a big game in the Mustangs’ season opener against Mountain Vista, but Yannicito said that a knee injury will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the year. Beattie had five catches for 103 yards against Mountain Vista.

“Losing Beattie is a big loss for us,” Madden said.

On the bright side, Ralston Valley will get to enjoy the friendly confines of the NAAC for the next two weeks. The Mustangs host Regis Jesuit (2-1) next Friday night at NAAC before a big showdown with Valor Christian on Thursday, Sept. 21. The Eagles (1-2) defeated the Mustangs twice last season, including a dramatic overtime playoff state semifinal game.

“It was great,” Johnson said of the Mustangs’ home opener at NAAC. “Having only a 12-minute drive from the school is amazing. Our crowd is amazing. We love our crowd. We are finally getting into the swing of things.”

Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to

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