5A FOOTBALL SEMIFINALS PREVIEW

Every Colorado schoolboy player wants to be a leftover.

Still practicing and still having a game to play the weekend after Thanksgiving is a gift that keeps giving.

In the case of Class 5A, it means a trip to the semifinals as four teams continue to have honor and give thanks. They also know the next victory clinches a berth in the 5A championship at the Broncos Stadium at Mile High.

Tradition reigns here, too – not only will there be a new big-school champion in a couple of weeks, but you continue to hear about Cherry Creek, Columbine, Grandview and Valor Christian for reasons. They have combined for 14 semifinals berths of the past 20, as all four have been here at least three times in five seasons, headed by four each for Cherry Creek and Valor.

So, yes, there’s something to this thing about it being difficult to crack the big-school boys club.

But, no, it doesn’t make it less fun to watch or enjoy.

Below may be helpful, fun and informative sentences to help you get into two of the final three 5A games of 2018, a fab four of sorts who enter the round a combined 46-2 and own 19 Colorado  big-school championships:

Valor Christian (12-0) vs. (5) Grandview (11-1), Saturday, 1 p.m., Legacy Stadium, Aurora

Valor has a 4-3 lead in its head-to-head series with the Wolves, but it’s nothing new. Hardly. In fact, the Eagles, since coming into varsity existence in 2008, have a winning record against every in-state team they have faced other than Mullen. The Mustangs own a 2-1 edge. Valor’s only other losing records are to four out-of-state programs. … For the second time, the Eagles in Highlands Ranch pulled away late from nearby ThunderRidge, most recently 34-7 last week in the quarterfinals. The Grizzlies actually outgained the Eagles in yards, 283-238. … With University of Colorado pledge Joshia Davis having an injury-plagued season, freshman Gavin Sawchuk has more than picked up any slack, particularly of late. He ran for 113 yards on 24 carries, including all five Valor TDs the past week, and has 328 yards and six TDs in eight postseason quarters. … Ethan Zemla was in on 12 tackles the past week, tops on the team. … Senior QB and Nebraska commit Luke McCaffrey was 6-of-14 for 82 yards and an interception in the quarters, just the second time all season that he had not thrown a scoring pass. … Valor has only surrendered 71 points. Wow! … If the Eagles advance to the final, it will be their ninth championship game in 11 seasons (including 4A and 3A). … Grandview has made the semifinals seven times. “And only one win,” head coach John Schutz said. The Wolves won the 2007 title, downing Douglas County, and they are itching to add to it. … Grandview’s victory in the quarterfinals, 26-22 over nearby and district-rival Eaglecrest – the Raptors won 36-35 to open the new Metro East in Week 6 as the Wolves blew two big leads – also was kind of an ice bowl as the weather was nasty at Legacy Stadium and always seems worse adjacent to the Aurora Reservoir. … And after a kickoff return for a TD and an 80-yard run from scrimmage for another score, Grandview ground it out. … Wolves senior RB Jordan Billingsley, about as dependable of a rusher as there is in 5A, rushed 24 times for 121 yards and two TDs. … Sophomore QB Jacob Burr was 4-of-8 for 69 yards, one for a 22-yard TD to Billingsley. … Junior Bradley Shafer led the tackle parade with 12 and Trevor Greenlee contributed 11. Greenlee also had an interception and Jack Rogers caused and recovered a fumble. … Schultz on the Eagles: “They’re the fastest team I’ve seen on film all year, that’s for sure.” … The Wolves have won 30 of their past 40 postseason games. … The 6-foot-5 Dayne Prim, so vital to the school’s 5A basketball title the past season, has a chance for a unique double. He also has caught 12 TD passes.

Cherry Creek (11-1) vs. Columbine (12-0), Friday, 7 p.m., Jefferson County Stadium

The two have only faced each other three times in 15 seasons, with Cherry Creek winning twice and all games being in the playoffs in November. And the outcomes were by two, six and four points. … And don’t forget about the 1999 final. The Jefferson County Rebels, in their first season since the Massacre, trailed Cherry Creek before taking a 21-14 victory for their first title. … It was the first of five for Columbine, which mostly recently won it all in 2011. … Head coach Andy Lowry is in his 25th season heading the Rebels and they have had only one losing season, in 2014. And since then they are 44-12. … Columbine is seeking its first undefeated season since 2011, when itbeat Lakewood, and had another in 2002, when Tanner Rogers, generally considered the state’s top option quarterback in decades, led an unblemished championship run. … With 3,735 yards on the ground, the Rebels rushing game is in high gear. At the controls is senior QB Logan DeArment, who has overcome hernia surgery and thrown for 12 TDs on 47 completions. … Junior RBs Adam Harrington (1,105 yards rushing, 17 TDs) and Tanner Hollens (1,184 and 14) are about an equal pair of options as there is in 5A. … Cole Parrott is credited with 63 tackles, some 27 for loss. Corbin Curry has added 53 tackles. … Meanwhile, in Greenwood Village, head coach Dave Logan has led a resurgence for the Bruins, who are experiencing their best days since the legendary Fred Tesone built and maintained a dynasty for 27 years, and the highly productive 10-year run led by Mike Woolford that included the great Darnell McDonald. Cherry Creek beat Valor for the 2014 title and followed it with two straight semis showings. … Logan, who began at Arvada West, has taken four programs to a whopping 17 semifinals. He also will be looking for his 11th title-game appearance. His teams have won seven. … Until last week’s 24-16 victory over Ralston Valley, the Bruins had only two offensive turnovers all season, an interception and a lost fumble. They added two interceptions and had a bad snap. … Senior QB and Iowa-bound Alex Padilla has thrown for 63 TD passes since the start of 2017. … Cherry Creek is 11-1, but has only played 11 games – it had to accept a forfeit in Week 7 against Arapahoe, which opted not to play after multiple student suicides at the school. The Bruins’ one loss was to Grandview in Week 10, 28-21 in overtime. … Colorado commit Alec Pell has six of the Bruins’ 22 sacks and registered 63 tackles.


Neil Devlin

Neil Devlin

Neil H. Devlin is in his 39th 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
Neil Devlin
About Neil Devlin 51 Articles
Neil H. Devlin is in his 39th 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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