5A FOOTBALL SEMIFINALS PREVIEW

College football has its power conferences and Colorado high-school play has the Centennial and Jefferson County leagues.

Power? It comes locally from both sides of the Denver-metropolitan area, from the southeastern corner as well as a west-side story, respectively.

So don’t be surprised the two leagues have combined for all four big-school semifinalists in 2017 and will decide which programs will play for the state championship after Saturday’s Class 5A doubleheader at Legacy Stadium in Aurora.

Consider the facts. Since 1990, when the powers that be felt it necessary to create a Class 6A, the Centennial and Jeffco groups have accounted for 71 percent of the final-four teams. The Centennial has advanced 45 teams, or 40 percent, and Jeffco 33 teams, or 29 percent.

No other league has come close.

This also is the sixth time the two suburban leagues have made it a semis sweep and third time over the past five seasons.

Plus, one of the sticking points in the new league alignment that will be voted on next month involves where to put both Mullen and Valor Christian and – you guessed it – one will be in the Centennial and the other in Jeffco.

So we’re down to three games in the season and two of them are broken down below to help with your viewing pleasure:

Columbine (11-1) vs. Eaglecrest (12-0)

Saturday, noon, Legacy Stadium

The last meeting between the two was about a generation ago. In 1999, on the way to their first title and just months after the Massacre, the Rebels met the Raptors in nonleague in Week 4 and won 31-3. In addition, Columbine head coach Andy Lowry said, both programs attend summer camp in Pueblo and their freshman also face off in the summer. Lowry added that he and Eaglecrest head coach Mike Schmitt also have gotten close over the years. … Columbine’s 28-18 victory over Regis Jesuit in the quarterfinals was all Rebels and vintage Lowry. The coach’s run-oriented offense, sound line play, ball control and the always interesting mix of power and deception made it another one of the following: The Rebels were doing their thing, so there wasn’t anything the opposition could about it. Almost every 5A team knows what it feels like. … Columbine’s execution is always a key and presently being turned by junior QB Logan DeArment. In terms of passing, he has thrown for 16 TDs – against only two interceptions – in a relatively low 90 attempts. But his real value is handling Rebels rushing. He has 588 yards and 13 TDs, but also gets the ball to senior Conner Snow (1,020 yards, 13 TDs) and senior Ted Mullin (416 yards, six TDs). … As for Eaglecrest, this is its deepest trip into the postseason since 1993, when it won a 5A state championship (at 14-0) in a 6A system. … The Raptors have won 23 of their past 24 games. … Before last week’s 26-7 handling of Cherry Creek, Eaglecrest had won only three of 12 games against the Bruins. … Theryne Sandoval-Jimenez converted two field goals to give the Raptors a 6-0 halftime lead and they enjoyed terrific line play on both sides against a program that has lived on it for decades. … The Bruins had scored at least five TDs in each of their previous six outings and were held to one by the Raptors. …  Victor Garnes caught two TD tosses from Jalen Mergerson and Kenny Wantings had a 27-yard burst for a score. … Senor Corey Corbin contributed an interception.

 

Pomona (10-2) vs. Grandview (10-2)

Saturday, 5 p.m., Legacy Stadium

These two really don’t see each other that much, but when they do it always comes with meaning. On the way to consecutive runner-up finishes, Pomona beat Grandview 32-21 in the 2015 quarterfinals and in 2010, back when there were only nine regular-season games, Grandview won 35-22 in the preliminaries. … Pomona has won nine of its past 11 playoff games, most recently its 48-31 spanking of Boulder’s Fairview. … The Panthers have three front-line players and all three were stellar in the quarterfinals. How glad is Pomona to have QB Ryan Marquez back from injury? Short answer: Very. He was 10-of-16 for a whopping 323 yards, five TDs and no interceptions. RB Max Borghi rushed 15 times for 282 yards and two TDs. And WR Billy Pospisil had four receptions for 129 yards and three TDs. … Pomona is averaging a ridiculous 44.8 points per game. … Here are a couple of sentences that aren’t said or typed often enough – the Panthers are good (again) up front and physical (again) on defense. … Meanwhile, Grandview has drawn accolades for being the team others with active streaks are desperate to avoid. You may recall the Wolves halted Mullen’s big-school winning streak over parts of four seasons at 34 games in 2011. It arguably was sweeter in last week’s 28-16 victory over Valor Christian. The Eagles were two-time defending state champions, hoping to play for an eighth title in nine years, were on a 22-game roll and 37-1 in the playoffs. The one loss was by a point to Cherry Creek in the 2014 finale. Wolves coach John Schultz pointed to a bracing, freezing rain as a factor, but “it was awesome, the kids were tough and resilient, and played through it, and played great defense.” … The Wolves being a defensive force isn’t news. Hardly. With few exceptions, Grandview’s annual defense has been as effective as anyone’s and this year’s group is allowing only 10 points an outing. In eight postseason quarters it has been hit for only 16 points. … Injuries ravaged Pomona earlier, and now they are ripping through the Wolves. They even have wide receiver Gunner Gentry, out earlier with a wrist injury, doubling at safety. … Grandview completed one pass last week, for 2 yards to Dayne Prim for a TD. … Gentry, Prentice Wilson and workhorse Jordan Billingsley rushed for TDs for the Wolves last week.

 

NOTE:  Both games are scheduled to be available through a live video stream at www.nfhsnetwork.com.  


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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