4A football: Big-play WR receiver Rashad Caldwell sparks Denver South to win over Aurora Central

Posted October 22, 2021

Caldwell, the state’s most prolific wide receiver, exploded for 70-yard touchdown on first catch.

AURORA — Rashad Caldwell needed just one catch to prove why he’s the most electric high school wide receiver in Colorado.

On Thursday night, with Denver South visiting Aurora Central, the Ravens junior lined up in the slot trailing early by a touchdown. But not for long. Caldwell broke on a shallow crossing route, snatched the football, and burst 70 yards untouched into the end zone.

South never looked back in a runaway 39-21 victory at Aurora Public Schools Stadium. The Ravens (8-1) appear ready to crash the Class 4A playoffs as a dark horse contender for a state championship. It all starts with Caldwell.

The 6-foot, 180-pound wide receiver with track speed finds the end zone almost every time he touches the football. Literally. His second catch of the night against Central? A 4-yard TD reception out in the flat.

“As a receiver, I’m expected to make plays,” Caldwell said. “I’m either going to score, or get as many yards as I can, to give my team momentum.”

Caldwell entered Thursday night leading the state in receiving yardage (1,016) and touchdowns (13). South coach Ryan Marini said he utilizes Caldwell in the slot, on the outside and “everywhere” in between.

“When the ball’s going toward him, he just makes plays,” Marini said. “There have been a couple of times in my career when I sit back and I become a fan as a coach. I can just be wowed by him.”

Marini predicted this would happen. In 2019, Caldwell played one game with the freshman team and dominated. He was promoted to varsity the following week. Caldwell’s first catch against Thomas Jefferson went for 60 yards.

“But it’s more than that,” Marini said. “He’s the hardest working, best kid I’ve ever coached. He’s in the student senate. He’s got an above-4.0 GPA. He’s a great person and he has the athleticism to be successful.”

Caldwell’s most recent heroics were bolstered by the Ravens’ defense, and most notably, Jonah Buerk. The junior linebacker’s two fumble recoveries and one interception before halftime allowed South to storm back from its early touchdown deficit — and maintain a 26-0 run into the third quarter.

Caldwell’s long reception — plus touchdown runs from junior quarterback Joseph Capra and sophomore running back Chevelle Early — gave South a 20-7 lead at halftime. The Ravens added touchdowns from Caldwell, junior wide receiver Dominic McGrath and Capra to put the game away.

Central (7-2) attempted to stay in it with rushing scores from junior running backs Trevon Simmons-Adams and Cai’Reis Curby. Simmons-Adams added a touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter to make it a two-possession game, 33-21. But the Trojans were unable to stop South’s dynamic offense all night.