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Colorado high school football semifinals: Scouting the penultimate games in Class 5A, 4A and 3A — - today

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- Data Covid-19 USA — 

Class 5A

No. 4 Pomona (7–0) vs. No. 1 Cherry Creek (7–0)

When/where: 1 p.m. Sat­ur­day at Stut­ler Bowl

Last meet­ing: Cher­ry Creek 14, at Pomona 7, on Nov. 30, 2019

Play­ers to watch: Pomona — Jack Pospisil, Sr., QB, 1,011 total yards (655 rush­ing), 14 TDs (12 rush­ing);  Chase Muller Jr., RB, 58 car­ries-416 yards (4 TDs); Juju Howard, Sr., LB, 44 tack­les (4.0 for loss), 1.0 sack. Creek — Julian Ham­mond III, Sr., QB, 91-of-135 for 1,210 pass­ing yards (17 TDs); James Walk­er II, Sr., RB, 88–864 (11); Chase Pen­ry, Sr., WR, 37 recep­tions-541 yards (7 TDs).

For the sec­ond year in a row, the Bru­ins and Pan­thers meet in the 5A semi­fi­nals. A year ago, that end­ed with a 14–7 Cher­ry Creek win, the program’s fourth in a row over Pomona, and part of a 21-game win streak dat­ing back to the start of the 2019 sea­son. Many of the key fig­ures from that vic­to­ry are still on the Bru­ins’ ros­ter, includ­ing Ham­mond, Pen­ry, tight end Gun­nar Helm (25–322, 6 TDs) and all-every­thing star Myles Pur­chase (5 INTs, 2 INT returns for TDs, 2 punt return TDs). Pomona’s return has been aid­ed by Pospisil’s mal­leabil­i­ty at QB and a rebuilt defense that’s allowed just 11.3 points per game. The lat­ter will need to be at its best against an explo­sive Bru­ins attack.

Game stream link.

No. 3 Legend (7–0) vs. No. 2 Valor Christian (6–0)

When/where: 1 p.m. Sat­ur­day at Val­or Stadium

Last meet­ing: Val­or Chris­t­ian 44, vs. Leg­end 7, on Oct. 6, 2017

Play­ers to watch: Leg­end — Kalen Shoe­mak­er, Sr. QB, 72-of-107, 1,044 (14); Bryce Vaz, Jr., RB, 37–351 (7); Luke Sandy, Jr., DT/OT, 51 tack­les (8.0 for loss), 1.0 sacks; Jax­on Muma, Sr., S, 7 INTs. Val­or — Gavin Saw­chuk, Jr., RB, 93–993 (16); Eli­jah Hamil­ton, Sr., LB, 47 tack­les (6.0 for loss), 1 INT; Sean McNair, Sr., QB, 47-of-70, 623 (5).

The Titans find them­selves in unchart­ed ter­ri­to­ry in the 5A semi­fi­nals, fac­ing one of the state’s pre-emi­nent pow­ers. The big ques­tion going into Sat­ur­day: will Saw­chuk, Valor’s five-star run­ning back, be avail­able? He didn’t suit up last week, but it made no dif­fer­ence as Zachary Wiley ran for 114 yards and 4 TDs in a 49–14 win over Chero­kee Trail. Leg­end had a sur­prise star of its own in a 56–35 quar­ter­fi­nal win over Fairview, with Vaz torch­ing the Knights for 310 yards and six TDs in place of senior Con­nor Eise (798 rush­ing yards, 8 TDs). The run­ning lanes aren’t like­ly to be as wide against Val­or, which has allowed 42 points all sea­son. The Titans defense (10.9 ppg) is salty in its own right.

Game stream link.

Class 4A

No. 4 Loveland (7–0) vs. No. 1 Dakota Ridge (7–0)

When/where: 1 p.m. Sat­ur­day at Engle­wood High School

Last meet­ing: N/A

Play­ers to watch: Love­land — Zack Rakowsky, Sr., RB, 153–1,043 (15); Gar­rett Harstad, So., QB, 819 total yards, 13 TDs (9 rush­ing); Ian Loomis, Jr., MLB, 79 tack­les (8.0 for loss), 3 INTs, 1.0 sacks. DR — Ben Gultig, Sr., QB, 65-of-93, 1,130 (17); Char­lie Offer­dahl, Sr., RB/DB, 823 all-pur­pose yards, 14 TDs (12 rush­ing), 5 INTs; Spencer Hardy, Sr., DL, 25 tack­les (7.0 for loss), 9.0 sacks.

Dako­ta Ridge is still wait­ing to come across a defense capa­ble of stop­ping it. A week ago, the Eagles scored on all 12 of their offen­sive pos­ses­sions in a 76–34 rout of Mon­trose. For the sea­son, they are aver­ag­ing 54.9 points per game, with dual threat QB Gultig (sec­ond on team with 451 rush­ing yards) the oper­a­tor of a mul­ti-pronged attack capa­ble of hurt­ing teams in a vari­ety of ways. Now comes a Love­land defense that just held Broom­field to one touch­down in a 28–7 quar­ter­fi­nal win and lim­it­ed Sky­line to its low­est scor­ing out­put of the sea­son (26 points). The for­mu­la is sim­ple for the Indi­ans: Hold on to the ball with Rakowsky and the run game, and keep the Eagles offense off the field.

Game stream link.

No. 6 Fountain-Fort Carson (6–1) vs. No. 2 Palmer Ridge (5–0)

When/where: 1 p.m. Sat­ur­day at Guy R. Bar­ick­man Stadium

Last meet­ing: N/A

Play­ers to watch: FFC — Q Jones, Sr., RB, 165–1,727 (19); Tavian Tuli, So. QB, 685 total yards, 10 TDs (2 rush­ing); Tai Faavae, So., MLB, 47 tack­les (3.0 for loss), 3.0 sacks, 2 INTs. PR — Luke McAl­lis­ter, Sr., QB, 73-of-101, 1,437 (21); Mar­cel­lus Reed, Sr., WR, 16–520 (7); Cameron Jones, Sr., DE, 20 tack­les (6.0 for loss), 4.0 sacks.

Two com­bustible offens­es that get the job done in com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent ways meet in a bat­tle of Pikes Peak region pow­ers. For Foun­tain-Fort Car­son, it’s all about pound­ing the ball with the state’s lead­ing rush­er in Jones. For Palmer Ridge, it’s air­ing it out with CSU com­mit McAl­lis­ter and his many FBS-lev­el weapons, includ­ing senior Kaden Dud­ley and junior Antho­ny Costan­zo. The Tro­jans sur­vived a 41–38 barn-burn­er against Pon­derosa a week ago. Can they do the same against a Palmer Ridge defense that’s allowed dou­ble-dig­it points in just one of five con­test­ed games?

Game stream link.

Class 3A

No. 4 Pueblo South (5–0) vs. No. 1 Roosevelt (6–0)

When/where: 1 p.m. Sat­ur­day at Roo­sevelt High School

Last meet­ing: N/A

Play­ers to watch: South — George Lon­go­ria, Sr. RB, 129–816 (12); Jace Bel­lah, Jr., QB, 792 total yards, 7 TDs (3 rush­ing); Luke Guar­i­en­ti, Sr., WR, 15–307 (3). Roo­sevelt — Brig Hart­son, Sr., QB, 1,177 total yards, 15 TDs (2 rush­ing); Clay­ton Robin­son, Jr. OLB, 44 tack­les (14.0 for loss), 5.5 sacks; Coop­er Wal­ton, Jr., OLB, 55 tack­les (13.0 for loss), 2.5 sacks, 1 INT.

Pueblo South has only played four con­test­ed games this sea­son — Mead for­feit­ed last week’s quar­ter­fi­nal due to COVID-19 — but when the Colts have seen the field, they’ve been hard to stop. All-star run­ning back Lon­go­ria has gone for 160-plus yards each game, and dual-threat QB Bel­lah has kept defens­es hon­est through the air. In Roo­sevelt, how­ev­er, the Colts face a defense that has sur­ren­dered just 16 points in its last four games — all of which came in a 17–16 quar­ter­fi­nal win over Fort Mor­gan last weekend.

Game stream link.

No. 3 Durango (6–0) vs. No. 2 Holy Family (7–0)

When/where: noon Sat­ur­day at Mike G. Gabriel Stadium

Last meet­ing: N/A

Play­ers to watch: Duran­go — Jor­dan Woolver­ton, Sr., QB, 1,037 total yards, 15 TDs (6 rush­ing); Ben Finneseth, Sr., WR, 561 total yards (324 rush­ing), 9 TDs (6 rush­ing); Kyler Reimers, Sr., DE, 47 tack­les, 4.0 sacks. HF — Michael White, Sr., QB, 59-of-106, 1,145 (16); Trevin John­son, Sr., RB, 99–869 (12); Justin Tros­tel, Sr., LB, 30 tack­les (6.0 for loss), 3.0 sacks, 3 INTs.

Two pro­grams unac­cus­tomed to the state semi­fi­nals — nei­ther has reached this lev­el in more than a decade — face off for a chance to play for the 3A title next week in Pueblo. Both teams have had a rel­a­tive­ly easy time of things so far this sea­son, with Durango’s 17–8 win over Ever­green ear­li­er this fall the only sin­gle-dig­it vic­to­ry among the two. Holy Fam­i­ly just beat that same Ever­green team (sans QB Grif­fin Lau­ri­tano) 41–6 in the quar­ter­fi­nals, while Duran­go made quick work of Luther­an, 47–6.

Game stream link.

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