5A FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK 5

Lots going on in Class 5A football …
The big schools are about to reach midseason, which means it’s the final week of nonleague.
Awaiting in Week 6 is Year II of the so-called waterfall outlay. If you recall the final half-season of 2016, you expect another five weeks of lopsided scores, particularly among the classification’s elite.
And is there a better way to wrap up the nonleague than Cherry Creek facing Valor Christian? It’s the state’s largest school against the top parochial power. The Bruins have won eight state championships, Valor seven over the last eight seasons, including four of the past five in 5A. As for the one the Eagles didn’t win? It was Cherry Creek 25, Valor 24 in a memorable 2014 final.
In fact, they have played twice in each of the past three seasons, as in regular season and playoffs. The Eagles hold a 4-2 edge. The Bruins won both games in 2014. And last season’s meetings included a rugged 10-7 victory by Valor at the Bruins’ Stutler Bowl in the state semifinals.
Cherry Creek coach Dave Logan, who has won a combined seven championships at four different schools, certainly realizes what his Bruins will be facing in Highlands Ranch on Friday night at 7 p.m.
“My impression of Valor is (the Eagles) are the two-time defending state champions who are always talented,” he said. “You have to play your best game to have a chance to win.”
So far, the Bruins, like other 5A heavyweights, have loaded their nonleague with demanding foes. They fell to Regis Jesuit in a tough opener, 25-20, but have reeled off three straight victories, over Doherty, Arapahoe and Grandview, including putting 40 points on the always-good-on-defense Wolves a week ago. Including Valor, four of the five had winning records and three are coming off playoff seasons (Doherty didn’t make the postseason field despite an 8-2 mark).
Defensively, Logan said his guys are developing and are led by Gunnar Garcia, Tre Mariney and Casey Randall, all defensive linemen and all seniors.
Offensively, the Bruins are probably further along despite having only one senior starter. Quarterback Alex Padilla threw an interception on his first attempt, but hasn’t been picked off since. The running-back combination of Jayle Stacks and Alec Pell has produced 585 yards and seven touchdowns. And Logan easily realizes he wants to get the ball to Dimitri Stanley, a University of Colorado pledge who already has 40 catches for 503 yards and six TDs.
“Alex has been terrific,” Logan said. “And Dimitri is the best receiver in the state.”
It’s one of several matchups late this week worth your time. Others of consequence are marked below for your viewing pleasure:
 
Best bets
Chaparral (2-2) vs. ThunderRidge (2-2), Friday, 7 p.m., Shea Stadium
Wolverines are fresh from a 21-13 decision of Douglas County-rival Legend. … Junior Dylan Smithwick rushed 20 times for 123 yards. … It’s Chaparral’s third consecutive district-rival game — it lost 20-13 to Highlands Ranch on Sept. 15. … Chaparral won last year’s meeting, 21-17. … The game is to be televised by CET-Xfinity. … Interesting contrast for Grizzlies, who are almost all over the map — they were whipped by 4A power Pine Creek and 5A undefeated Eaglecrest by a combined 61-20, handed new coach Doug Nisenson his first victory in a wild one, 51-34 over nearby Mountain Vista, and gutted one out last week against Rock Canyon, winning 10-3. … Junior Spencer Lambert heads ThunderRidge rushing with 546 yards and seven TDs. No other Grizzlies player has a rushing TD. … Junior Ethan Frasier has 25 solo tackles, tops on the team.
 
Cherry Creek (3-1) at Valor Christian (4-0), Friday, 7 p.m., Valor Christian
The Eagles won both meetings in 2016, including 42-26 in the regular season … The Bruins have won three straight by compiling 121 points over their past 12 quarters. … Junior Marcus Miller has been a strong second option at receiver. He has 19 catches for 385 yards (20.8 average) for five TDs. … Padilla has thrown for 1,045 yards, good for fourth in 5A. … Valor beat Pomona 34-21 the past week, the program it has downed in the past two championship games. … The Eagles had the ball for an outrageous 31 minutes. … CU pledge Blake Stenstrom was an efficient 13-of-24 for 170 yards and a TD. … Junior Luke McCaffrey was 2-for-2 passing for 52 yards, rushed once for 4 yards, caught four passes for 23 yards and contributed 40 yards returning. … Joshia Davis rushed for 197 yards and three TDs. … Get there early, this one should be packed.
 
Doherty (3-1) at Fountain-Fort Carson (2-2), Friday, 7 p.m., Guy Barickman Stadium
These are the only two teams in and around Colorado Springs that play big-school football. And that’s a sign of the times, if not a shame. … After scoring an unusually high 173 points in their first three games, the Spartans struggled to down winless Westminster last week, winning 21-20. … QB Logan Siffert has thrown for 10 TDs and only one interception. … Julian Cooks has 741 yards rushing, is averaging 9.9 yards per carry and run for 10 TDs. … After falling to heavyweights Pomona (5A) and Pine Creek (4A), the Trojans had to work to beat Castle View 23-13. … Gavin Green rushed for 83 yards and a TD, and caught passes for 37 yards and a TD. … Eric Donnell rushed for 141 yards and passed for 82. … Ahmed Bernard had 2 of the team’s 4.5 sacks.
 
Mountain Vista (2-2) at Regis Jesuit (3-1), Friday, 7 p.m., Lou Kellogg Stadium
The Golden Eagles of Highlands Ranch are every bit the even-Steven, .500 team through four outings. Not only are they 2-2, but they have scored 131 points and given up 131 points. … Caden Wetzel stepped in at QB last week and was 16-of-22 for 243 yards, including a 66-yarder, two TDs and no interceptions in a 24-21 victory over Arapahoe. … The Mountain Vista offense is very involved with Tristan Smith, who has rushed for 333 yards and three of the team’s four TDs on the ground, and has 21 receptions for 461 yards seven TDs. All are tops on the team. …  The Raiders handled Highlands Ranch last week by 24-0 and had a couple of odd statistics — in 55 plays and having possession for nearly 30 of the 48 minutes, they had only nine first downs. Also, QB Justin Lamb was only 3-of-8 for 29 yards and lost a couple of fumbles. … Kiahn Martinez handled the load, rushing 27 times for 139 yards and two TDs. … Pierce Thrasher added a couple of field goals.
 
Cherokee Trail (2-2) vs. Grandview (2-2), 7 p.m., Stutler Bowl
Coming off a 28-14 setback to district-rival Eaglecrest, the Cougars are seeking their first victory over a team with a winning record. … Grandview won last year’s meeting 24-0. And Cherokee Trail hasn’t beaten the Wolves since 2013, when it was 10-3 and lost in the state semifinals to (of course) Valor Christian. … The Wolves have now lost two straight games, both to district and former Centennial League rivals. A week after getting handled by Eaglecrest 28-14, they gave up 27 straight points in falling to Cherry Creek 40-20. … Grandview was held to just 44 yards passing. It rushed for 240 yards, topped by junior Jordan Billingsley’s 131. … Jordan Knapke led Grandview with 13 tackles.
 
Also keep an eye on …
Columbine (3-1) vs. Denver East (1-3), Thursday, 4 p.m., All-City Stadium
Suburbs vs. city — Rebels will probably be overly ornery after falling to rival Chatfield last week; Angels are coming off their first victory.
 
Eaglecrest (4-0) vs. Bear Creek (1-3), Friday, 7 p.m., Jefferson County Stadium
The Raptors are seeking their 15th consecutive regular-season victory; Bears will be hard-pressed to avoid a 1-4 start.
Arapahoe (1-3) vs. Fairview (4-0), Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Recht Field
Host Knights scored a crazy 68 points last week; Warriors have been taking hits to the tune of just about 31 points per pop.
Overland (2-2) vs. Legacy (3-1), Thursday, 7 p.m., North Stadium
After getting pummeled 34-0 by Grandview, the host Lightning have won twice by a combined 54-7; rookie prep head coach Steve Sewell watched his Trailblazers snap a two-game skid last week.
Rocky Mountain (2-2) vs. Horizon (2-2), Friday, 7 p.m., Adams 12 North Stadium
The visiting Lobos have re-energized themselves and already won more games than they did a year ago; both of the Hawks’ victories have been by shutout.
Pomona (3-1) at Rockhurst, Kansas City, Mo. (4-2), Friday, 6 p.m., Rockhurst
QB Ryan Marquez threw for 368 yards and two TDs last week, but Pomona dropped a third game in less than two seasons to Valor Christian; the tradition-rich Hawklets are a recognized Missouri power.
 

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