Semifinal Preview (4A-5A)

Spring football has reached the semifinals and champions will be crowned next weekend. Colorado Preps previews the two largest classifications this week.



SAT/1:00pm: #1 Thomas Jefferson (6-0) vs #4 Falcon (5-2)

SAT/12:00pm: #2 Harrison (7-0) vs #6 Gateway (4-3)

Three of the top four seeds made it through the quarterfinals, one by way of forfeit. Both semifinal contests this week will be rematches of regular season meetings.

Top-seeded Thomas Jefferson was awarded a forfeit victory last week, when Aurora Central was unable to play their quarterfinal contest. Saturday’s game with Falcon will be the first action for the Spartans since April 23rd. They beat Denver North 46-12 that day. The Spartans have outscored the opposition 188-65 this season, with almost half of the points allowed (29) coming in the season-opener against Falcon.

Throughout the season, the ground game has been the bread and butter for the Spartans, as they are averaging just short of 300 yards a game rushing, compared to a total of 384 passing. Avery Shunneson leads the way with 472 yards and seven touchdowns, followed by Austin Lindegren with 388 yards and six scores. Lindegren has also thrown for 384 yards and seven more touchdowns. Jaden Hill (289) and Jordan Sandoval (202) are also over 200 yards on the season, and each has scored twice. Trenton Koser is the top receiver with 13 catches, 180 yards, and two scores.

Shunneson has a nose for the ball on defense, leading TJ with 41 total tackles. Blake Wilson has a team-high 4.5 sacks, while Koser (two interceptions) and Jake Tapia (two fumble recoveries) are the top takeaway men on the unit. Koser has also converted seven of eight PAT kicks.

Falcon has won four straight since the 32-29 loss to Thomas Jefferson in week one, but had that streak snapped by Harrison in the regular season finale, 40-32 in OT. The Falcons bounced back to down Kennedy 20-17 in last week’s quarterfinals.

Heading into the finale with Harrison, Darius McFarland was leading the Falcons with 775 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. As a team, they had rushed for more than 1600 yards and 27 TD in their first five games. Nolan Favreau had added 360 yards and five scores, and Landon Jones had contributed 205 yards and six touchdowns. The Falcon defense had only forced three turnovers in the first five games, two coming on fumble recoveries by Josiah Aldinger.

Falcon trailed 18-14 at halftime of the first meeting with Thomas Jefferson, but took the lead with a touchdown late in the third quarter. The Spartans struck twice in the fourth, including a 55-yard run by Hill to go up 32-21, but watched their lead trimmed to a field goal on a touchdown and two-point conversion in the closing minutes.

Hill finished that contest with 171 yards on the ground, and the duo of Shunneson (103) and Lindegren (94) combined for close to 200 more. McFarland paced Falcon with 145 rushing yards.

Harrison rolled through the regular season, with only the game against Falcon being decided by fewer than 16 points. The Panthers kept that run going with a 34-6 victory over Centaurus last week. They led 34-0 before Centaurus got on the board in the final minutes.

Kahar Briggs (118), Carlos Preciado (111), and Davonn Stevens (94) combined for 321 yards on the ground, and each scored a TD in the win. Jaseim Mitchell threw for 142, and added 59 yards and two touchdowns in the ground game. The Panthers rolled up 526 yards of offense in the contest. Freshman TJ Washington topped the Harrison defense with 10 tackles, while Nate Fisher (interception) and Jordan Southerland (fumble recovery) each recorded a takeaway.

Last week’s 30-27 win over George Washington made it two straight in the victory column for Gateway. The Olympians got 136 passing yards and 123 rushing yards from Erick Covington, who registered three total touchdowns. RJ Webster added 70 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and Kaden Devault hauled in a TD pass from Covington. The difference in the contest was a 30-yard field goal from Ryan Claxton.

Harrison won the earlier meeting between with Gateway 34-18, back on April 9th. The Panthers got a rushing touchdown from Kahli Dotson midway through the fourth quarter to put the game on ice. Dotson finished the game with 107 yards and two scores, while Stevens led the way with 157 yards and a TD. Mitchell threw for just under 100 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Covington led the Olympians with 187 yards through the air and 143 on the ground. He ran for three scores.



SAT/6:00pm: #8 Denver East (3-4) vs #4 Boulder (5-0)

FRI/7:00pm: #2 Far Northeast (4-2) vs #3 Vista PEAK (5-2)

Denver East was the only #8 seed in any class to pull off an upset in the opening round of the postseason, as the Angels avenged a 35-21 regular season defeat by Denver South. After seeing a 14-0 lead wiped out in the fourth quarter, the Angels scored the winning touchdown in the closing seconds to earn a 21-14 victory over the previously unbeaten Ravens.

Isaiah Davis helped the Angels control the clock, running for 178 yards and two scores on 23 carries, while Dylan Wigglesworth added 139 passing yards, and a rushing touchdown. Santiago Stephens and Mohamed Altayeb each recorded seven tackles to lead the East defense, and Marcello Aguilar recovered a fumble. The defense held South to just over 200 yards of offense in the contest.

Boulder kept its perfect mark intact with a 21-14 victory over #5 Fort Collins, handing the Lambkins a second straight defeat. The Panthers were outgained 384-205, but they won the turnover battle 5-2. Tristan Langenegger picked off two passes, and Luke Zana added an interception and a fumble recovery. Parker Patchett led the unit with 13 tackles, and was also the top gainer on offense, registering 114 total yards.

Far Northeast ran its winning streak to three with a 42-15 quarterfinal victory over Westminster. Westminster opened the scoring with a pick-six, but the Warriors went on to score the next 28 points to seize control. Antavius Hughes (117 yards, 2 TD) and Gregory Anderson (115 yards, 3 TD) powered the rushing attack, as the Warriors outrushed the Wolves 285-103. Andy Martinez added 132 yards and one touchdown through the air. Emmanuel Nwaneto stood out on defense with 10 tackles, a sack, and an interception.

The victory gives Far Northeast a shot at avenging a 13-10 loss to Vista PEAK, who picked up a 29-14 win over Rangeview last week. That snapped a two-game skid for the Bison, who got three total touchdowns from senior QB Victor Owens. Owens threw for 69 yards and a score, and ran for 22 yards and two more touchdowns. Ja’derris Carr topped the century mark with 114 yards on the ground, and the senior reached paydirt once.

Vista PEAK scored 13 first quarter points in the first meeting with Far Northeast, and then held on for the three-point victory. Bryson Torrie ran for one touchdown, and Kyshaun Green hauled in a Jordy Ruiz pass for the other Bison score. The Warriors, who were held to just 62 yards in the loss, got a rushing touchdown from Martinez, and a 30-yard field goal from James Aryeetey.

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