This week’s quarterfinal pairings in 5A football sets up potentially great matches across the board as multiple powers and previous champions face off. Two games, Pomona versus Fairview and Cherry Creek versus Cherokee Trail are rematches from two of the best games of this season. While defending champ Valor Christian takes on traditional power Columbine. Not to be outdone, ThunderRidge versus Grandview promises hard hitting action
Friday night, Fairview, roughly one month after defeating Pomona on a last second field goal, again faces the Panthers. In that month time period Fairview has improved both its run game and defense and may now be better equipped to contain a powerful Pomona run game. Improvements aside, stopping the Pomona run will be no easy task. Currently few if any athletes in the state are playing better than Pomona senior RB Chris Marquez. The diminutive but powerful Marquez has, over the past two weeks, rushed for nearly 500 yards while scoring ten rushing TDs. Potentially even more important is Marquez’ work as a kick returner, one big play could be the difference in this game.
Grandview, at 7-4, is, by Wolves’ standards a subpar seaon. Of late the offense seems more on track than earlier this season when the Wolves could only generate seven points in a loss to ThunderRidge. A key to the offensive resurgence as well as the shot at an upset over the Grizzlies is junior running back Chukwuma Obinnah. The big back has rushed for 435 yards and five scores in two playoff games. Obinnah and fellow back Ben Marshall need to move the chains and eat clock to keep a very diverse ThunderRidge offense off the field. Last week, ThunderRidge QB Brody Westmoreland accounted for seven scores in the win against Doherty. For Grandview to have a shot their front seven has to hold up against a very good ThunderRidge offensive line.
Quietly Columbine has gone 10-1 this season and has moved to the quarters of playoffs. Standing in the way of another Rebel berth in the final four is defending champ Valor Christian. The game highlights two of the state’s best backs in Christian McCaffrey and Bernard McDondle. Columbine, playing against a very good and underrated Valor defensive front, needs to eat clock to keep the ball out of McCaffrey’s hands. Look for Valor QB A.J. Cecil to shoot for big plays in the pass game against a Mullen secondary that has difficulty defending the pass. If Columbine can grind this could be a good game. If Valor gets up early it will be a long night for the Rebels.
On a great slate of games the Cherry Creek versus Cherokee Trail matchup might be the best. The Cougars last loss was a 28-27 defeat at the hands of the Bruins. Both team play great defense and there will be no shortage of athletes on the field. Key to the game will be the play of the quarterbacks. Both Aric Johnson of Cherokee Trail and Cameron Brucker of Cherry Creek have to complete some passes to loosen up the box. Brucker is coming off his best game of the year passing for over 300 yards with four scores last week against Overland. This one will once again be close and whichever team wins the turnover battle should move on to the semis.