5A FOOTBALL – QUARTERFINALS PREVIEW

Pomona heads to Regis on Friday in one of four very attractive 5A state quarterfinal matchups. PHOTO BY LANCE WENDT

There are those who firmly believe the Class 5A playoffs don’t really begin until this round.

And they have their reasons.

The first round, for example, didn’t involve the top eight seeds. There have been all of two victories by lower seeds over the two rounds. And last week’s games were won by an average of 22 points.

However, all speculation and preference is moot with the quarterfinals set for Friday.

The traditional heavyweights that have dominated big-school play remain, so there will be no surprise champion … again.

With a combined won-loss mark of 79-11, the great eight of sorts will offer what figures to be a wide range of high-end play labeled below for your viewing pleasure:

(8) Fairview (10-1) vs. (1) Cherry Creek (11-0), Friday, 7 p.m., Stutler Bowl

They used to meet regularly as members of the Centennial League, including in the big-school title game in 1987, but growth and sprawl changed the local outlay. Their last meeting was in 2007, when Cherry Creek won 21-14. … The Knights are coming off a 36-34 squeaker against Cherokee Trail. They had a measly 3 yards rushing, but remember this is Fairview, where head coach Tom McCartney knows to let it fly  – senior QB Aidan Atkinson was 35-of-50 for 455 yards and five touchdowns. His Colorado career marks include 11,519 yards passing and 130 TD tosses. … Atkinson will be going against a Bruins defense that is widely considered the state’s best. It has allowed only 92 points and just four foes have reached double figures. … Cherry Creek, the 2018 runner-up, has its own QB to brag about – junior Julian Hammond III, grandson of former ABA Rockets star Julian Hammond and son of former Aurora Christian all-state basketballer Julian Hammond II, has been brilliant. He has thrown for 2,119 yards and 24 TDs. … Senior Jayle Stacks has rushed for a team-leading 12 TDs. Junior Chase Penry and Gunnar Helm each have seven TD receptions.

(5) Pomona (7-4) vs. (4) Regis Jesuit (11-0), Friday, 7 p.m., Lou Kellogg Stadium

So what else is new? Pomona is in the quarterfinals for the ninth consecutive season. … These two also squared off in the opener with RJ winning 23-13. … The Panthers actually started 1-3, also losing to defending state champion Valor Christian and runner-up Cherry Creek. Their showing in the Metro West League included a one-point victory over Columbine and a 17-0 loss to undefeated Ralston Valley. … The Panthers had no trouble in rolling Legend 36-7 the past week. … Regis Jesuit blew out Highlands Ranch 49-7 last week in the second round and led 35-7 at halftime. … The Raiders had possession for more than 28 minutes. … Sophomore QB Nicco Marchiol was 16-of-29 passing for 225 yards, four TDs and one interception. … Junior RB David Doty also had a big game, running for 180 yards on 13 carries. He also scored twice. … The Raiders had 522 yards of offense. … Regis Jesuit’s 11-game winning streak is its best in 16 seasons, superseded only by the 13-game streak the Raiders rode into the 2010 title game. They lost to Mullen.

(10) Eaglecrest (9-3) vs. (2) Ralston Valley (11-0), Friday, 7 p.m., NAAC

Four games between the two teams since 2014 and the Raptors have won the most recent two. And don’t forget Ralston Valley’s wild 44-43 playoff victory on a last-second field goal in 2014. … Clearly, Eaglecrest had the best victory of the second round, knocking off No. 7 and league and district rival Grandview 28-21 in overtime. The Raptors somehow staved off the Wolves despite being hit for 433 yards of offense. … QB Max Marsh’s 8-yard TD toss to Jalen Stewart was the game-winner. … Marsh also threw for two other scores, to Ty Robinson and Kobe Williams, and ran for another TD. … Ralston Valley handled Arapahoe 42-21 the past week by putting up 21 points over the game’s final 12 minutes. … The Mustangs have matched their top winning streak of the 2000s, also winning 11 games in succession in 2010 and 2007. … RV has won 17 of its past 30 postseason games. … The Mustangs are in double figures in victories for the first time since 2014.

(6) Columbine (9-2) vs. (3) Valor Christian (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m., Valor Christian

Here’s a matchup we just haven’t been able to enjoy very much. The two programs have played all of one time – in 2014, Valor Christian beat the Rebels 49-13 (the Eagles led 42-7 at halftime) in the playoffs as someone named Christian McCaffrey rushed for 272 yards and three TDs, and caught a pass for another TD. … Columbine is fresh from a 43-14 blowout of Smoky Hill. The Rebels led 36-0 at half. … Adam Harrington rushed for 131 yards and a TD, and Tanner Hollens rushed for 70 yards and two TDs. … QB Jaden Holliday was 7-of-9 passing for 143 yards and three TDs. …  This will be Columbine’s 200th game since the start of 2004. The Rebels have won 164 of them. … Valor dispatched of Mountain Vista 34-9 last week, the Eagles’ second victory over the Golden Eagles in a month. On Oct. 17, Valor won 41-6. … Sophomore RB Gavin Sawchuck lit it up in the second round, rolling to 281 yards rushing and three TDs. … With Ed McCaffrey in command, the Eagles are 24-1. … The defending state champion Eagles’ numbers are already legendary and continue to grow. All told, they are 136-23, including a ridiculous 41-2 in the postseason.


Neil Devlin

Neil Devlin

Neil H. Devlin is in his 40th year covering Colorado high-school sports. He's currently the Sports Information Director at Mullen High in southwest Denver. Twitter: @neildevlin. Web: www.mullenhigh,com

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