Doctors told Mountain View’s Keenan Pattwell he shouldn’t play football.
He needed to rest. He needed time to adjust to his new lifestyle. He needed to allow his body to heal.
But the Mavericks senior wouldn’t have it. He wouldn’t let the chronic stomach pain — either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis — that forced him to change his diet and robs him of sleep nightly relegate him to the sideline.
Nor would he let Mountain View’s season end with a third straight heartbreaking loss in the 5A championship game.
The senior racked up 213 yards of offense and six total touchdowns — an 11-man state championship game record — to lead the Mavericks to a 48-21 win over Capital on Saturday at Albertsons Stadium, delivering Mountain View (11-2) the first state title in program history.
“It’s a perfect ending for a young man who has struggled so much on a daily basis this entire season,” Mountain View coach Judd Benedick said. “Not just as a football player, but for his life and trying to just make it through every day.
“I am so happy for him and so proud of him. It’s just validating. It’s proof that good things happen to good people — and he’s one of the best.”
Pattwell took over the second quarter, hauling in three touchdown passes as Mountain View built a 28-21 halftime lead.
Tucker Rovig fired a 33-yard scoring strike on 4th-and-8 between the safety and corner for Pattwell’s first score. Pattwell then hauled in a jump ball with Capital’s Carter Johnson in the back of the end zone. Both hit the turf with simultaneous possession, but the 5-foot-8, 155-pound senior wrestled the ball away for a 22-yard touchdown catch.
Pattwell saved his most impressive score for the final 30 seconds of the half, deking inside then breaking back to the corner to leave a Capital (10-2) defender spinning in his dust for a 23-yard score and a 28-21 lead.
“I have the most trust in the world for him,” said Rovig, who finished 25-of-32 for 252 yards and four TDs. “I know no matter what, if it’s a bad ball, he’s either going to catch it or he’s going to knock it down. He’s not going to let them get the pick.”
Mountain View limited Pattwell’s touches in the running game all season, worrying about the number of hits he could take and trying to save his limited energy. But in his final game, Pattwell threw caution to the wind, racking up 17 carries for 98 yards and three third-quarter TD runs to put the game away.
“Being able to finish it off like this is just absolutely amazing,” said Pattwell, who also set an 11-man championship game record for points (36). “Hopefully, it’ll inspire people to know that they can push through anything.”
While Pattwell took over the game offensively, Mountain View’s defense pitched a shutout in the second half. The Mavericks forced five turnovers, including four in the second half and three interceptions from safety Jace Richter.
The combined effort allowed Mountain View to exorcise its championship game demons. The Mavericks fell in the 2014 final to undefeated Highland, then lost as an undefeated and heavy favorite last year to Rocky Mountain, a team it had beaten earlier in the year.
But Mountain View was the one who scored revenge Saturday, knocking off Capital after a 27-22 loss to the Eagles four weeks ago.
The Mavericks snuck up on Benedick with a bucket of water on the sideline as the clock wound down, dousing him to set off a first-of-its-kind celebration for the Mavericks. As his team mobbed him, Benedick’s emotions got the best of him and he broke down.
“It was just surreal,” Benedick said. “The kids are just jumping on me, grabbing. We’re hugging and crying and laughing and yelling. It’s just amazing — amazing.”
The loss continues the heartbreak for Capital, which last won a state title in 1991. The Eagles have reached the final five times since.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Capital coach Todd Simis said. “I think we surprised everybody by getting to this game. Today, Mountain View was the much better team, and they deserved to be champions.
“It hurts right now. But when we have a chance to reflect, we’ll realize how special the year was and the unbelievable job these kids and coaches did.”