5A FOOTBALL – SECOND ROUND PREVIEW

Fresh off their first playoff win since 1991, unbeaten Smoky Hill now challenges Columbine in round two of the 5A playoffs. PHOTO BY SCOTT COHEN

Class 5A’s Great 8, heavyweights as top seeds that sat out last week’s preliminaries, are back into play.

Hence, Round II of the big-school playoffs resumes Thursday-Friday and with all of its firepower.

Nothing much out of the ordinary has occurred for the bottom two-thirds of the bracket, so opportunity abounds.

Below are the round’s lineups, in bracket order, for your viewing pleasure as Colorado schoolboy football nears center stage to cap the 2019 fall:

 

(16) ThunderRidge (7-4) vs. (1) Cherry Creek (10-0), Friday, 7 p.m., Stutler Bowl

A fun fact to know and tell – the visiting Grizzles are one of the few in-state teams to own a winning record against the Bruins in the current era. Since 2004, they are 2-1, all in the postseason, including a wild 57-56 game in 2012. …  ThunderRidge is coming off a hard-fought 17-6 decision over Lakewood. QB Brent Huber was only 9-of-17 passing for 119 yards with an interception, but added 38 yards rushing and two touchdowns. … Junior Tyson Lambert was in on 13 tackles. … Cherry Creek’s defense is good. How good? The Bruins have permitted only 78 points. And just three foes have cracked into double figures. … Runner-up a year ago, Cherry Creek has 46 offensive TDs, 23 off the right arm of junior QB Julian Hammond.

 

(9) Cherokee Trail (8-3) vs. (8) Fairview (9-1), Friday, 7 p.m., Recht Field

The Cougars have it going on under third-year head coach Joe Johnson. They have equaled last season’s victory total, their most since make the 2013 semifinals. … Cherokee Trail opened the postseason last week with a 35-17 decision of Fountain-Fort Carson. … CT has won 16 of its past 27 postseason games. … Fairview was ide the past week, but for all we know senior QB Aidan Atkinson set another passing mark. In the previous week, he set the all-time career state mark in yardage by climbing to 11,064. … Head coach Tom McCartney has been heading the Knights since 1993 and is the current dean of big-schoolers in command of the same program.

 

(13) Highlands Ranch (5-6) vs. (4) Regis Jesuit (10-0), Friday, 7 p.m., Lou Kellogg Stadium

Last week in the preliminaries, the Falcons erupted for a season high in points, spanking Colorado Springs’ Doherty 59-7. … And this is a team that began the season by going winless in nonleague, giving up 30-or-more points to five teams that earned eight of the first-round byes in the first round of the playoffs. … Their only loss in league play? A 34-7 setback to Valor Christian. … The Raiders have been convincing – they have won every game but one by double figures. The exception was a 30-21 home victory over parochial-rival Mullen. … Regis Jesuit has scored an even 50 TDs, 29 on the ground, a team-high 11 each by super sophomore QB Nicco Marchiol and junior RB David Doty.

 

(12) Legend (9-2) vs. (5) Pomona (6-4), Friday, 4 p.m., NAAC

Last week’s Legend victory, 35-23 over Rocky Mountain, added to a program-high that keeps growing. … Also becoming greater over a period of time is the rushing total of senior Blake Rarog. It’s at 1,678 yards. He also has 21 TDs. … Junior Connor Eise is more than an option – he is credited with 996 yards and 5 TDs. … Always playoff-ready Pomona had its five-game winning streak snapped last week in a 17-0 setback (and rare shutout loss) to undefeated Ralston Valley. … This is a Panthers skill corps that has been getting it done by committee. Statistically, Jack Pospisil, a junior, is tops at 1,140 yards.

 

(15) Arapahoe (7-4) vs. (2) Ralston Valley (10-0), Friday, 7:30 p.m., NAAC

Even with a record of three games above .500, the Warriors oddly have been outscored by a combined 149-139. … Over the past 15 seasons, Arapahoe is 0-2 against Ralston Valley. … It’s also a second consecutive playoff showing under head coach Rod Sherman, in Year II since coming over from Valor. … The Mustangs have been thorough, including second in 5A points (406), third in defense (93). … Since edging Columbine 24-23 in Week 9, RV hasn’t allowed a point, winning 42-0 over Lakewood and 17-0 against Pomona. … Senior QB Walker Brickle’s sharp numbers include 28 TD tosses and only four interceptions.

 

(10) Eaglecrest (8-3) vs. (7) Grandview (8-2), Friday, 7 p.m., Legacy Stadium

Your basic rematch of programs that reside nearby, and are in the same district and league … and are playing in the second round. … The host Wolves have won 12 of the past 17 head-to-heads, although Eaglecrest grabbed the most-recent matchup, 14-11 in Week 6 to open league play. … The Raptors held off Legacy 34-31 the past round. … Grandview has had two weeks to move past a 44-21 whipping by Cherry Creek to close the regular season. … The Wolves were held to 189 yards of offense. … Under head man John Schutz, Grandview has won 30 of its past 41 postseason games.

 

(19) Mountain Vista (4-7) vs. (3) Valor Christian (10-0), Friday, 7 p.m., Valor Christian

In a first-round that came with the top eight seeds earning byes, the Golden Eagles were the lowest seed to win a preliminary-round and only visiting team to advance. They won 24-16 at Mullen. … Jacob Barrett threw two TD passes and Grant Shells added an interception return for a TD. … It was the Golden Eagles’ second victory in a row after being 2-7. … They played in Week 8 and Valor rolled by 41-6. … The Eales are 23-1 with former Bronco Ed McCaffrey in charge, 4-0 in the postseason. … Senior Zane Zinicola tops the Valor balanced receiving corps. He is tops with 31 catches, 427 yards and five TDs. Five others have 100-or-more yards and scored a TD.

 

 (11) Smoky Hill (10-0) vs. (6) Columbine (8-2), Thursday, 7 p.m., Jefferson County Stadium

Despite having won only five of their past 10 meetings against Overland, the Buffaloes took out the Trailblazers 48-6 last week. Smoky Hill had opened the season against their district rivals, winning 48-26. … Bigger news — it earned them their first playoff victory since beating Denver West 35-6 in the first round of the 1991 6A playoffs. And it was their first postseason appearance since the second round of that season. … The Rebels’ two losses were by 24-23 to Ralston Valley and 34-33 to Pomona, so it isn’t as if they performed and produced consistently. … The two programs haven’t squared off in the 2000s. … After being held to just 26 yards (on 14 carries) against Pomona, RB Tanner Hollens ripped off 216 in Week 10 against Pomona along with three TDs.

 


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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