Cherokee Trail, which advanced to the Class 5A state championship game for the first time — losing to Valor Christian — is represented heavily on the 2012 Aurora Sentinel All-City Football Team, as selected by the Sentinel with balloting of Aurora coaches.
City teams were brimming with talent, as there were 101 first-, second-team and honorable mention all-league selections across four leagues: the Aurora, Centennial, Colorado 7 and Continental.
No team had a better season than the Cougars, who lost a tough 9-0 decision to Valor Christian on Dec. 1 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Line play — especially in the unforgiving Centennial League — was especially important to Cherokee Trail, which had seniors Matt Barden and Garrett Zimmerman anchor an offensive line charged with the key task of helping a new quarterback, junior Aric Johnson, adjust to varsity play.
Behind Barden — who was selected All-Colorado by the Denver Post — Zimmerman and others, the Cougars gained more than 4,000 yards. Johnson hit his stride in the second half and finished with more than 2,000 yards of total offense and 15 touchdowns.
Senior Ryan Winke was a thorn in the side of opposing offenses as a defensive lineman with six sacks, but his strong leg as a place kicker was a major factor. He made eight field goals and finished as Cherokee Trail’s leading scorer with 66 points.
Junior lineman Jacob Martin, junior linebacker Kaleb Barnum and junior safety Evan White led a defense that had two shutouts and gave up an average of 11.6 points.
White had an Aurora-best seven interceptions and had 80 tackles, but his ability to lay big hits in timely situations made Cherokee Trail’s defense particularly hard to attack. Barnum had 79 tackles and Martin 57, plus a number of hurries.
Grandview had the most dynamic two-way force in Aurora in senior Tanner Gentry, who starred as both a wide receiver and defensive back. The University of Wyoming pledge was Aurora’s lone 1,000-yard wide receiver and had six interceptions.
Gentry’s dual-threat quarterback, Reece Weber, also made the All-City first team — with 1,786 yards passing, 639 rushing and a combined 26 touchdowns — as did senior tight end Christian Backes. Three of Backes’ 12 catches were for scores and he factored in the blocking game, bolstering a line keyed by Mitchel Smith.
Senior Cassius Davis made up half of a strong running back tandem, in addition to providing a spark to the Wolves’ special teams, which earned him first team all-league honors.
On the defensive side, senior linebacker Robbie Holtam missed five games, but returned in time for league play and racked up five sacks and averaged six tackles. Gentry keyed a ballhawking defense that produced 25 takeaways and senior punter Austin Butterfield performed at a first team all-league level.
Eaglecrest had a wide variety of talented players come together at the right time to earn their way into the 5A playoffs with a come-from-behind victory over Cherry Creek and then won two postseason games before falling in the quarterfinals.
The Raptors’ most versatile player was senior Sean Watkins, who contributed heavily as a wide receiver, defensive back and on special teams. Watkins had 473 yards receiving and four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter of the must-win over Cherry Creek.
Senior running back Greyson Hoffman gained a lot of hard yards and nearly broke the 1,000-yard mark despite splitting carries and also scored eight touchdowns.
Joining Watkins in an extremely athletic defensive backfield was senior safety Xavier Lewis, a University of Wyoming commitment and winner of the Denver Post’s annual Golden Helmet Award as the state’s top football player/student. Senior Josh Johnson was a major force on the line and harassed quarterbacks and running backs regularly.
Regis Jesuit made it to the second round of the playoffs to cap an injury-plagued season and line play on both sides of the ball was key.
The Raiders went through a variety of running backs due to injury, but senior Connor Warren, an All-Continental League first-teamer, cleared plenty of holes.
On the other side of the line, senior Antonio Broadus topped Regis Jesuit with six sacks and added 71 tackles, fourth-best on the team.
The Aurora team Regis Jesuit beat in the first round of the 5A playoffs, Gateway, had a 7-3 season led by senior lineman Zack Golditch.
The Colorado State commitment dominated in the trenches on both sides the ball, especially on defense, where few could block him. The Olys were athletic and formidable in a lot of areas, especially on defense with Golditch — the Aurora League Defensive Player of the Year with 11 sacks — and perhaps Aurora’s most ferocious hitter other than White, senior linebacker Darius Harvey, who also had five interceptions.
Gateway senior running back Miguel Gonzalez had nearly 1,100 yards of total offense, scored 15 touchdowns and was a threat returning kicks, earning Aurora League Specialty Player of the Year honors.
Overland returned to the 5A state playoffs for the first time in four seasons and the health of sophomore Austin Conway played a key role.
Conway missed nearly all of last season due to injury, but made the most of the 10 he played in 2012 with more than 2,000 yards of total offense and 24 touchdowns as a quarterback, while he also was a major threat when he returned kicks.
Lineman Damon Roberts, the team sack leader, and linebacker Santiago Medina also made the All-Centennial League first team as part of a defense that gave up nearly 100 points fewer than in 2011.
Joey Tuggle represents Smoky Hill on the All-City first team, as he continued to be a force in the return game (averaging 26 yards per kickoff return) and fell just short of a 1,000 yards from scrimmage.
Rangeview — which won its third straight league championship and retained the Anvil traveling trophy — had one of Aurora’s top receiving threats in Trey Nubine, whose hands on both sides of the ball and return abilities were huge. He had a team-high 382 yards receiving and a pair of interceptions.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555
2012 AURORA SENTINEL ALL-CITY FOOTBALL TEAM
FIRST TEAM — Quarterback: Aric Johnson, Cherokee Trail, jr.; Reece Weber, Grandview, sr.; Running back: Cassius Davis, Grandview, sr.; Miguel Gonzalez, Gateway, sr.; Greyson Hoffman, Eaglecrest, sr.; Wide receiver: Tanner Gentry, Grandview, sr.; Trey Nubine, Rangeview, sr.; Sean Watkins, Eaglecrest, sr.; Offensive line: Matt Barden, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Zack Golditch, Gateway, sr.; Mitchel Smith, Grandview, sr.; Connor Warren, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Garrett Zimmerman, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Tight end: Christian Backes, Grandview, sr.; Place kicker: Ryan Winke, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Athlete/returner: Austin Conway, Overland, soph.; Joey Tuggle, Smoky Hill, sr.
SECOND TEAM — Quarterback: Trent Clay, Smoky Hill, jr.; Darien Odegard, Rangeview, jr.; Running back: Armon Brown, Rangeview, sr.; Cameron Smith, Cherokee Trail, soph.; Jeffrey Tootle, Aurora Central, sr.; Wide receiver: Brandon Barry, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Anthony Holmes, Gateway, jr.; Frank Thomas, Smoky Hill, jr.; Offensive line: Anthony Childs, Overland, sr.; Austin Fleer, Grandview, sr.; Lavies Powell, Rangeview, sr.; Trent Rogers, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Matt Romero, Eaglecrest, jr.; Tight end: Hank Hyde, Smoky Hill, jr.; Place kicker: Tanner Hubbard, Grandview, sr.; Athlete/returner: Ryan Willey, Eaglecrest, sr.; Myles Simmons, Overland, sr.
HONORABLE MENTION: Nik Adams, Gateway, sr. (WR); Tory Adams, Gateway, sr. (RB); Dillon Baksh, Hinkley, sr. (OL); Abdelaziz BenQadi, Gateway, sr. (OL); Dezant Burks, Rangeview, sr. (WR); Gabe Cirivello, Grandview, sr. (OL); Juwaun Davis, Overland, sr. (WR); Jack Engelson, Gateway, jr. (OL); Filipe Fifita, Rangeview, sr. (OL); PJ Hall, Rangeview, sr. (RB); Ben Handy, Rangeview, sr. (PK); Darius Harvey, Gateway, sr. (WR); Kyree Herron, Vista PEAK, soph. (RB); Arealous Hughes, Rangeview, jr. (WR); Malik Humphries, Overland, sr. (OL); Isaiah Jackson, Grandview, sr. (RB); Devin Johnson, Gateway, jr. (OL); Tate Johnson, Gateway, sr. (QB); Anthony Karmayzn, Eaglecrest, soph. (TE); Tim Lynott, Regis Jesuit, soph. (OL); Kyle Mudick, Rangeview, sr. (OL); Jonathan Ndekezi, Aurora Central, sr. (WR); Robert Orban, Regis Jesuit, sr. (TE); D.J. Ortiz, Vista PEAK, jr. (WR); Adam Puehler, Vista PEAK, soph. (QB); Ayo Sanusi, Vista PEAK, jr. (RB); Mohammed Sumbunu, Gateway, sr. (OL); Amer Tipura, Overland, sr. (OL); Ahjon White, Overland, soph. (RB); Tre-Shawn Wilford, Eaglecrest, sr. (WR); Daijhawn Williams, Grandview, sr. (WR); Isaiah Young, Vista PEAK, soph. (Ath); Zach Zuhse, Rangeview, sr. (Ath)
FIRST TEAM — Defensive line: Antonio Broadus, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Zack Golditch, Gateway, sr.; Josh Johnson, Eaglecrest, sr.; Jacob Martin, Cherokee Trail, jr.; Damon Roberts, Overland, sr.; Linebacker: Kaleb Barnum, Cherokee Trail, jr.; Darius Harvey, Gateway, sr.; Robbie Holtam, Grandview, sr.; Santiago Medina, Overland, sr.; Defensive back: Tanner Gentry, Grandview, sr.; Xavier Lewis, Eaglecrest, sr.; Sean Watkins, Eaglecrest, sr.; Evan White, Cherokee Trail, jr.; Punter: Austin Butterfield, Grandview, sr.
SECOND TEAM — Defensive line: Aaron Charleston, Overland, sr.; Michael Guenther, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Mike Howshar, Eaglecrest, sr.; Eric Mitsch, Grandview, sr.; Ryan Winke, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Linebacker: Joe Bozeman, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Jevin Jordan, Aurora Central, soph.; Austin Rutledge, Smoky Hill, sr.; Tre Thomas, Overland, jr.; Defensive back: Jackson Burrell, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Josh Butler, Gateway, sr.; Cameron Grove, Eaglecrest, sr.; Thomas Thortvedt, Cherokee Trail, jr.; Punter: Josh Welchert, Cherokee Trail, sr.
HONORABLE MENTION: Nik Adams, Gateway, sr. (LB); A’Deril Agnew, Aurora Central, sr. (DB); Mar’Keith Bailey, Cherokee Trail, jr. (LB); Noah Butler, Vista PEAK, soph. (DB); Jesus Chavarria, Hinkley, jr. (DB); Trayvone Crosby, Aurora Central, jr. (DL); Isaac Fuqua, Gateway, jr. (LB); Josh Gibbs, Rangeview, jr. (DB); Keifer Glau, Grandview, soph. (DB); Sebastian Harris, Regis Jesuit, sr. (P); U.J. Johnson, Overland, sr. (DB); Demetrius Jones, Aurora Central, jr. (DL); Tahkiev Jones, Rangeview, sr. (DL); Robert Kelly, Gateway, sr. (DB); Jalen Kennedy, Grandview, sr. (DB); Tim Klem, Vista PEAK, jr. (LB); Jessie Kranzler, Gateway, sr. (LB); Kaleel Lewis, Gateway, sr. (DB); Deangelo Manlove, Overland, jr. (DL); Deante Manlove, Overland, sr. (DB); Jaylen McDonald, Overland, sr. (LB); Jordan Medina, Rangeview, sr. (DB); Jonah Mitchell, Gateway, jr. (DL); Darnell Moye, Rangeview, sr. (DL); Lavies Powell, Rangeview, sr. (LB); AJ Roper, Overland, jr. (P); Desmond Ross, Grandview, sr. (DL); Dom Smith, Rangeview, soph. (LB); Victor Steele, Rangeview, sr. (DL); Cameron Stupansky, Smoky Hill, sr. (DB); D’Andre Thortvedt, Cherokee Trail, sr. (LB); Jeffrey Tootle, Aurora Central, sr. (LB); Quinn VandeKoppel, Regis Jesuit, jr. (LB); Aaryn Watson, Grandview, sr. (DB); Zach Zuhse, Rangeview, sr. (LB)