The stands at Thunder Ridge High School were barely occupied, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, but fans were raucous enough to be heard and the marching band was there for the National Anthem as Blackfoot visited for their season opener.
The Titans had already played a game and although they had been beaten by the Highland Rams a week ago, they were anxious to see what Blackfoot could bring to the stadium with their new coach Jerrod Ackley and his reported high octane offense.
It didn't take long to see what kind of a game this would become and the first series pretty much told the story, at least for a good portion of the game before the Broncos rolled to a 40-21 win.
Blackfoot kicked off and the Broncos defense was as good as advertised, led by senior safety Stryker Wood, who seemingly was in on every play, including the opening kickoff. It didn't take the Broncos long to force the Titans to punt and the first glance at the new up-tempo style was just about to be unleashed. That came after sophomore Austin Ramirez of Blackfoot took the punt and raced through a good portion of the Titans defense to put the Broncos in good shape across the midfield stripe. Had there not been a holding penalty on the punt return, the ball would have been deeper into the Titans end of the field.
No matter, the Broncos moved the ball steadily down the field, using the running game of Kort Capson and the passing of quarterback Jace Grimmett, the Broncos found themselves on the Titans 13-yard line and that is where All State running back Teegan Thomas got his first carry of the game and it turned into a 13-yard touchdown.
Two possessions later, Blackfoot made another charge down the field. With a long pass from Grimmett to Carter Layton the Broncos found themselves with a first down on the Titans 4-yard line and Grimmett took matters into his own hands for a quick touchdown and the Broncos were on their way.
“This was a great win for us as a team,” Ackley said. “It wasn't perfect, but we learned some things, know some things we need to work on and we can get back to work on Monday with a win under our belts.”
The Broncos led 20-0, but the Titans were not out of it by any means, as they used some penalty yardage and some nifty runs by Kayson Isom to work their way down the field. The Titans would get into the end zone with a short 7-yard pass from quarterback Tayvin Oswald to wide receiver Dutch Driggs and the Titans were right back in the game at 20-6 after the extra point was missed.
Thunder Ridge used its defense and a strong rush, to catch Blackfoot's Grimmett in the end zone and forced a fumble to get another quick score to close the score to 27-21 in the second quarter.
The Titans would get no closer.
“This was a team effort and we have a lot of good players,” Layton said. “I just love football, and with guys like Stryker Wood and Teegan Thomas and Jace Grimmett, we can go a long ways this season."
Next week, Blackfoot hosts Idaho Falls on Friday. Thunder Ridge plays Skyline, also on Friday night at Ravsten Stadium.
BLACKFOOT 7 13 7 13 -- 40
THUNDER RIDGE 0 6 15 0 -- 21