Cherry Creek's Jordan Herron (2) pulls away from a Mountain Vista defender during the Nov. 17 Class 5A quarterfinal state playoff game. Herron scored three TDs as Creek won, 51-24, to advance to the semifinals. Credit: Jim Benton

Cherry Creek coach Dave Logan and his football team have started a new Thanksgiving tradition.

Logan, the Creek coaches and the team get together for a football practice since the Bruins always seem to have a state playoff semifinal game awaiting a couple days after the holiday.

“We’ve been working on Thanksgiving nine of the past 10 years,” Logan said.

The Bruins, the Class 5A four-time defending state champions, will be practicing on Thanksgiving again this season after Creek downed Mountain Vista 51-24 on Nov. 17 at the Stutler Bowl.

Cherry Creek (12-0) will meet Ralston Valley (10-2) on Nov. 25 in a 1 p.m. game at the Stutler Bowl. Columbine (12-0) and Chatfield (8-5) will battle in the other 5A semifinal contest.

The semifinal winners will face each other Dec. 2 in the state championship game at Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins.

Creek’s defense faced a big challenge in trying to limit Vista’s junior quarterback Austyn Modrzewski who had passed for 3,337 yards in the first 11 games with an average of 303.4 yards a game.

“They’re so dynamic on offense and Austyn is such a great player,” Logan said. “They have a lot of great skill and position players as well. We knew we weren’t going to stop them and shut them completely down. You just want to give them different looks and different pressures and change the back end quite a bit. We knew going in how talented of a passing game they had. There were a couple break downs but for the most part the kids did well.”

Modrzewski passed for four touchdowns but most of the damage was done after the Bruins had built 24-0, 31-6 and 38-12 leads.

“We knew that they were going to throw the ball about 95% of the time and that’s what they did,” said senior linebacker Jake Howell. “We trained hard for them. We definitely respected their pass game.”

Mountain Vista threw six straight passes to open the game and had the ball in Creek territory when Luke Owen intercepted a pass.

The interception, a fourth down stop, forced a turnover on downs and a blocked punt set up the Bruins to take a 21-0 first quarter lead.

“They started driving on us right out of the gate and that interception really boosted the morale of the defense,” said Howell. “We had our moments when we were really, really good. There are some things we have to clean up.”

Jordan Herron ran for three touchdowns for Creek, Tyson Mauck caught two scoring passes, Jadyrn Irving grabbed one of quarterback Brady Vodicka’s three touchdown passes on the night.

Marquevious Lee scored the other Creek TD.

“We knew we needed to play mistake free football to have a chance to win and that early interception was tough for sure,” said Vista head coach Garrett Looney who saw his team finish with a 9-3 record. “That is the best offensive line I’ve coached against in a long time. They are talented at every position and very well coached on both sides of the ball. They were clearly the better team.

“I’m very proud of my team for the year they had and I know with what we have returning next year that we will be very competitive again.” 

CJ Reese caught two of Modrzewski’s touchdown passes, Sean Conway one and Ju’Pree Jennings caught the other.

Next up for Cherry Creek is the semifinal game against Ralston Valley, a team the Bruins beat 35-9 in the season opener on Aug. 25.

“They’re a really good team,” Logan said. “They have excellent balance, they’re good on offense, good on defense and they’re well-coached. At this point of the season, you are playing really good teams, you just got to find a way to win games. You have to play well.”

Jim Benton, who covers sports for Colorado Community Media’s south metro region, is a graduate of the University of Denver who worked 41 years for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver helping to cover a...

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