BUENA VISA – For 52 weeks, Buena Vista had been thinking about last year’s first-round playoff loss to Colorado Springs Christian. So when the Demons received the opening kick against the Lions on Friday, they were impatient.

On the first play from scrimmage, Eli Schuknecht broke for 86 yards to score and get the Demons on the board. And from that point on, No. 5 Buena Vista never looked back as it beat CSCS 27-21 in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs.

Schuknecht’s touchdown wasn’t a bad way to start the game considering the Lions had won the toss and elect to defer to the second half.

Buena Vista coach Matt Flavin couldn’t hide his disappointment.

“We wanted to start on defense,” he said.

His tone changed pretty quickly after Schuknecht’s score.

“That helped things out pretty quickly,” he said. “I figured if we could average that per carry, we’d be pretty ok.”

Schuknecht’s night ended soon after as an ankle injury forced him to the sideline and he never returned. But his touchdown run stood as the most important play of the game because of the way it set the tone early.

Tray Cardwell became the leading ball carrier for the Demons (7-3 overall) and scored two touchdowns through the course of the night, but his determination while running the ball was inspired what happened early in the game.

“It was mainly for [Schuknecht],” Cardwell said. “That guy runs his butt off.”

Cardwell was one of several Buena Vista players who missed last year’s game against the Lions (7-3) and watched as the visiting team left town with upset victory in their pocket.

When the bracket was released earlier in the week, the team was elated at a chance for some revenge. But CSCS was never going to make it easy. They initially had a 1st and goal at the 1, but an Aman Wingo interception ended the threat.

But there was no way a Jace Velasquez-led offense was going to be slowed all night. The Lions got on the board in the second quarter and then got a quick score to open the second half.

(Dan Mohrmann/ColoradoPreps.com)

The Demons had two drives get inside the CSCS 10-yard line, but came away with no points either time. With the Lions within striking distance, it was on the upperclassmen to keep the team calm and remember what the game means to them in the moment.

“I’m telling them to keep their head up because last year, everyone was down,” senior Caleb Camp said. “Nothing was working because if you’re not mentally in the game then you’re not in the game.”

Camp caught a touchdown pass from Hudson Wingo near the end of the first half. The Demons lone score of the second half was a 49-yard touchdown run by Cardwell.

“Tray has been a workhorse,” Flavin said. “He’s been such a hard worker on both sides of the ball. You never have to question his effort and he’s going to give you everything he has.”

The Demons advance to the 1A quarterfinals where they’ll meet the winner Meeker and Highland.

(Dan Mohrmann/ColoradoPreps.com)