Creek, Valor, Legend advance to football semifinals

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Cherry Creek will renew its rivalry with Pomona in one of the Class 5A semifinal football games, while Legend hopes to be ready for the challenge against Valor Christian in a series that has been lopsided.

The semifinal games were set after the completion of first-round action, which was held Nov. 19, 20 and 21.

Top-seeded Cherry Creek (7-0) will host fourth-seed Pomona (7-0) in a 1 p.m. game on Nov. 28 at the Stutler Bowl. No. 3 Legend (7-0) travels to second-seeded Valor (6-0) for a game that is scheduled for Nov. 27, but the time is still to be announced.

Defending state champion Cherry Creek holds a 5-3 edge in the series against Pomona and the Bruins have won the last four meetings, including a 14-7 victory in last season’s semifinals. Legend is 0-7 in games against Valor in the series that dates to 2010, when both schools were launching their football programs. The Eagles have outscored the Titans 347-50 in the seven games.

In the Class 4A playoffs, third-seed Ponderosa suffered its first loss of the season and was eliminated in the first round and Lutheran, the sixth seed in the 3A playoff bracket, also lost.

The following is a wrap-up of the first-round contests plus two other Week 7 non-playoff games.

Cherry Creek 29, Regis Jesuit 6

The Bruins notched their 97 th school playoff win with a hard-fought triumph over the eighth-seeded Raiders on Nov. 20.

James Walker II unofficially rushed for 121 yards and scored two touchdowns to spark the Bruins’ offense. It was his seventh time in seven games that Walker has rushed for over 100 yards.

Miles Purchase had two of Creek’s three interceptions as the Creek defense held the Raiders to two first-half field goals.

Valor Christian 42, Cherokee Trail 14

Depth paid off for the Eagles, who ground out an opening-round win over Cherokee Trail.

Valor’s Gavin Sawchuck, the leading rusher in Class 5A this season with an average of 165.5 yards per game, didn’t play. The Eagles would only say Sawchuk was unavailable.

Zachery Wiley stepped up to rush for 113 yards on 23 carries and scored four times. Wiley, combined with the 83 yards rushing from Sawchuk’s younger brother freshman Gabe, helped Valor gain 218 yards on the ground and 401 yards in total offense.

Quarterback Sean McNair, who directs Valor’s fast-paced offensive attack, passed for 183 yards and one touchdown as the Eagles jumped to a 35-7 lead at halftime in the Nov. 19 game against the seventh-seeded Raptors.

Legend 56, Fairview 35

Bryce Vaz, a transfer from Valor Christian who replaced injured starter Connor Eise, gained 310 yards on 31 carries and tallied six touchdowns in the triumph over sixth-seeded Fairview, which suffered its first loss of the season.

The other two Titans touchdowns were scored by JT Axelrod in the Nov. 21 game at Echo Park Automotive Stadium. Axelrod finished with 78 rushing yards.

Fountain Fort Carson 41, Ponderosa 38

Fans who like offensive football loved this 4A game played Nov. 21 at Echo Park but ironically it was a defensive play that settled the outcome for the sixth-seeded Trojans.

Ponderosa trailed by three points but had the ball at the Trojans’ 12-yard line with a fourth and one situation with 4:09 left in the game. Fountain Fort Carson stopped Cael Porter short of the first down marker and the Trojans ran out the clock to seal the win.

Mustangs quarterback Jack Hanenburg completed 15 of 20 passes for 170 yards and four touchdowns. Kolton Miller had seven receptions for Pondo and two were TD catches.

Castle View 24, Highlands Ranch 21  

The Falcons took a 21-17 lead into the fourth quarter but could not hold off the Sabercats, who rallied in the final period of the Nov. 20 to pull out a win in the Week 7 non-league contest.

Highland Ranch’s Dylan Gurule rushed for one touchdown and 113 yards and caught two passes for 11 yards. Trane Richmond paced the Falcons’ defense with 14 total tackles.

Arapahoe 16, Mullen 15

In another non-league extra game for non-playoff teams on Nov. 20, the Warriors used a 1-yard run by quarterback Cole Hansen and his 12-yard TD pass to Aj Scheckenbach to get a narrow win over the Mustangs.

The Warriors stormed to a 16-6 lead at halftime and held on as the Arapahoe defense held Mullen to three second-half field goals.

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