Lakewood battled hard all game but Cherry Creek scored first and often, giving the home crowd a lot to cheer about as the Bruins won the Nov. 1 Class 5A state playoff game 52-12 at the Stutler Bowl.
“Despite the score, this was a hard-fought game,” Bruins coach Dave Logan said after the game. “It was emotional because there are a lot of familiar faces on that other sideline. We had a tough week of preparation as we faced friends and kids we had coached before. But we are proud to get a first-round playoff win and move on to the next round against Overland.”
Overland comes in with a 6-4 record. The Trailblazers mount a balanced attack, averaging 193.4 yards a game passing and 184.2 yards per game rushing.
Statistics show Austin Conway leads the team's attack. He has completed 129 of 189 passes for 1,847 yards and has carried the ball 145 times for 1,139 yards. Conway spreads the ball around as he has linked up with 11 different receivers.
This season, the Bruins average 154.7 yards passing and 201 yards rushing per game. Milo Hall is the rushing leader with 134 carries for 1,226 yards and 12 touchdowns. Quarterback Cameron Brucker has completed 98 of 148 passes for 1,321 yards.
Cherry Creek will face league opponent in Overland in the second round of the 5A state playoffs at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Stutler Bowl.
In the first-round playoff game Nov. 1, the Bruins kicked off to Lakewood and the Tigers mounted a solid attack but were unable to score. The Bruins took over the football on their own 21-yard line. A mix of run and pass moved the ball and Nathan Starks took it into the end zone for a touchdown. Henry Lyon booted the extra point as Cherry Creek took the lead for good.
Late in the first quarter, Aeneas Robertson intercepted a Tiger pass and returned it for a touchdown and Lyon added the extra point to make the score 14-0.
Lakewood didn't quit, although the Bruins scored a pair of second-quarter touchdowns and a field goal. But, each time the Tigers started moving the ball, a penalty or turnover derailed the effort, so Cherry Creek led 31-0.
However, in the third quarter, Lakewood running back Sean Pinson's long run took the ball deep in Cherry Creek territory and Pinson took a pitchout on an option play and put the Tigers on the scoreboard. The extra-point try failed.
Still looking to close the scoring gap, the Tigers successfully executed an on-side kick to take possession on the Bruins' 42-yard line. Lakewood mixed the pass and the run to move the ball and quarterback Cameron Nicholls ran a two-yard keeper into the end zone for a touchdown. The two-point try failed but the effort did cut the score to 38-12.
The Bruins added two more touchdowns and won the game, 52-12.
Coach Logan said the game plan coming in was to continue to mount a balanced attack.
“To make a balanced attack work you have to run the football. We did run the ball but we have a young, small offensive line, so we are still are a work in progress in that area,” he said. “Defensively, we didn't tackle as well as we should have but we should that give much of the credit for that to the caliber of the Lakewood players running the football.”
Cherry Creek rushed the ball for 255 yards. Milo Hall was the rushing leader with 11 carries for 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Teammate Nathan Starks carried the ball seven times for 106 yards and two touchdowns, plus he caught a 27-yard pass for a touchdown.
D.J. Luke carried the ball three times for 40 yards and a touchdown.
“It was a tough, physical game, but we came out, executed, so we did things right,” Luke said after the game. “When I got to carry the ball, the guys up front gave me some big openings.”
He said on one special play, he turned up the field and it was all green in front of him, Luke said he just focused on running as fast as possible.
“Crossing the goal line one of the greatest feelings I've ever had,” he said. “Now, I just want to score touchdowns against Overland.”
Mark Robinson, Tigers coach, praised his players after the game.
“We came out with expectations to be competitive and we worked as hard as we could to make a game of it but you can't overcome six turnovers against a good team,” he said. “I am proud of our kids. They never quit. That is something we preach and try to instill in them all season long. These kids are Lakewood Tigers and even being 38 points behind, they were still fighting and got the two touchdowns.”
Robinson said he'll miss the seniors but was excited about next season.
“This is the smallest senior class I've ever had so we have a lot of kids coming back,” the coach said. “We have a very good foundation for next year. They just need to work, believe in themselves and come out and do it.”
Tiger quarterback Nicholls said it was a battle all four quarters.
“We throw the ball about 65 percent of the time and Cherry Creek blitzed so they came after me hard so I got hit a few times,” he said. “It was sort of a rough game for me because I didn't play up to the level my team and I expect me to play. But there were a few good times. Going into that end zone was good. It was a good way to end the drive and end my last high school game ever.”