Fall Sports All-Aurora 2016: Eye-popping performers headline All-Aurora Football Team

on Monday Sept. 19, 2016 at Grandview High School. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Grandview senior running back Hayden Blubaugh led Class 5A in rushing yards and scoring, as he piled up 1,911 yards on the ground and 30 total touchdowns to help the Wolves reach the Class 5A state quarterfinals. Blubaugh is one of the fantastic individual talents to appear on the first team of the 2016 Aurora Sentinel All-Aurora Football Team, which was selected by the Sentinel in conjunction with voting of Aurora coaches. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

So. Much. Talent.

Aurora’s state football championship drought is just shy of a decade (Grandview won the city’s last state crown in 2007), but the city consistently is chalk full of much of the best grid talent in Colorado as evidenced again in 2016.

One-fourth of the 5A state playoff field hailed from Aurora (Cherokee Trail, Eaglecrest, Grandview and Regis Jesuit) and all but Cherokee Trail were part of the final eight. Individually, Grandview running back Hayden Blubaugh led 5A in rushing (1,911 yards) and points (182), Vista PEAK quarterback Derrick Smashum paced the state regardless of classification with 40 touchdown passes and Regis Jesuit’s Jake Heimlicher recorded a state-best 22 sacks.

Those three remarkable individuals and many key figures on Aurora’s playoff teams appear on the first unit of the 2016 Aurora Sentinel All-Aurora Football Team, which was selected by the Sentinel in conjunction with balloting of Aurora coaches.

Fifty-two Aurora players earned first team all-league accolades and 52 others received second team nods during the fantastic season.

Vista PEAK Preparatory Derrick Smashum on Friday July 29, 2016 at Aurora Sentinel. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Vista PEAK junior quarterback Derrick Smashum led Colorado in all classifications with 40 touchdown passes during the 2016 prep football season. Smashum is one of Aurora’s state leaders on the 2016 Aurora Sentinel All-Aurora Football Team. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

Regis Jesuit pushed furthest into the postseason, making it to the state semifinals before it was stopped by Pomona. The Raiders were in every ballgame behind the play of a defense that gave up just 16.9 points per game. While Heimlicher wreaked havoc up front and scored three defensive TDs, senior linebackers Alec Hamilton and Will Kulick combined for 278 tackles and junior defensive back Patrick Roe accounted for nine turnovers (six interceptions, three fumble recoveries).

Running behind a line featuring senior Sam Bornhorst, versatile weapon D.J. Jackson rushed for 16 touchdowns in his junior season.

Grandview’s prolific offense — which finished second in 5A in points scored in one game fewer than No. 1 Valor Christian — helped the Wolves reach the quarterfinals. A veteran line keyed by senior Robert Moss helped Blubaugh gash opposing defenses on the ground (and come near 2,000 yards while missing one game), while junior wide receiver Gunner Gentry caught 10 touchdown passes.

Junior Simote Patterson-Simote did quality work for the Wolves in the trenches along the defense line, helping to clear the way for a bevy of talented linebackers.

Eaglecrest won the program’s first league championship since 1993 and finished 11-1 with a junior-heavy core. One of them, junior Victor Garnes, made the All-Aurora first team as a running back and defensive back and affected the game somehow on every play.

Defensively, the Raptors gave up the fewest points in 5A with Kyante Christian causing trouble up front, junior linebacker Cody Bardin flying to the ball and Garnes and senior Kyle Johnson ballhawking every pass in the air. A strong offensive line with the guile of senior Elijah Brockman and physical presence of sophomore Barrett Miller gave junior quarterback Jalen Mergerson time to do damage with his arm and legs and find a bevy of talented pass catchers such as senior tight end Tyler Peabody.

Cherokee Trail exited the postseason in the first round, but senior Ruben Estrada’s play up front was a boost to the Cougars’ offense, while senior linebacker Max Gonzales and defensive lineman Chase King helped the defense play well with the exception of two games against the two 5A finalists, Pomona and Valor Christian.

Rangeview had a sometimes explosive offense keyed by senior running back AJ Thomas and junior wide receiver Josh Hollins, while Smashum and senior wide receiver Dylan Holt made Vista PEAK an offensive load in 3A, as did special teams ace Tyshun Hamilton, a sophomore.

Overland (athlete Jaion Colbert, a multi-talented junior), Smoky Hill (senior punter Karson Avila who also excelled as a quarterback) also had All-Aurora first teamers.

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel


1ST TEAM OFFENSE — QUARTERBACK: Jalen Mergerson, Eaglecrest, jr.; Derrick Smashum, Vista PEAK, jr.; RUNNING BACK: Hayden Blubaugh, Grandview, sr.; Victor Garnes, Eaglecrest, jr.; AJ Thomas, Rangeview, sr.; WIDE RECEIVER: Gunner Gentry, Grandview, jr.; Josh Hollins, Rangeview, jr.; Dylan Holt, Vista PEAK, sr.; TIGHT END: Tyler Peabody, Eaglecrest, sr.; OFFENSIVE LINE: Sam Bornhorst, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Elijah Brockman, Eaglecrest, sr.; Ruben Estrada, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Barrett “Bear” Miller, Eaglecrest, soph.; Robert Moss, Grandview, sr.; PLACE KICKER: Jared Worrick, Regis Jesuit, sr.; ATHLETE: Jaion Colbert, Overland, jr.; D.J. Jackson, Regis Jesuit, jr.

1ST TEAM DEFENSE — DEFENSIVE LINE: Kyante Christian, Eaglecrest, jr.; Jake Heimlicher, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Chase King, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Simote Patterson-Simote, Grandview, jr.; LINEBACKER: Cody Bardin, Eaglecrest, jr.; Max Gonzales, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Alec Hamilton, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Will Kulick, Regis Jesuit, sr.; DEFENSIVE BACK: Victor Garnes, Eaglecrest, jr.; Kyle Johnson, Eaglecrest, sr.; Cameron Murray, Overland, jr.; Patrick Roe, Regis Jesuit, jr.; PUNTER: Karson Avila, Smoky Hill, sr.; RETURNER: Tyshun Hamilton, Vista PEAK, soph.

2ND TEAM OFFENSE — QUARTERBACK: Gunnar Lamphere, Grandview, sr.; Jaelin Odegard, Rangeview, jr.; RUNNING BACK: Brenden Holt, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Alfred Jones, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Kenny Wantings, Eaglecrest, jr.; WIDE RECEIVER: Quentin Birch, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Theryne Sandoval-Jimenez, Eaglecrest, jr.; Maurice Wyatt, Smoky Hill, sr.; TIGHT END: James Bowers, Smoky Hill, jr.; OFFENSIVE LINE: Reece Atteberry, Eaglecrest, soph.; Zach Canales, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Ryan Campbell, Smoky Hill, sr.; Kohltin Lund, Grandview, sr.; Ramiree Quick, Overland, jr.; PLACE KICKER: Ben Montgomery, Grandview, sr.; ATHLETE: J.J. Augustus, Vista PEAK, soph.; Kevin Traylor Jr., Gateway, jr.

2ND TEAM DEFENSE — DEFENSIVE LINE: Devien Canaday, Aurora Central, sr.; Marcus Hart, Vista PEAK, sr.; D.J. Reid, Overland, soph.; Jack Weigand, Regis Jesuit, sr.; LINEBACKER: Quentin Bowen, Eaglecrest, sr.; Donavan Carver, Overland, jr.; Luke LaFlam, Grandview, jr.; Tama Tuitele, Regis Jesuit, jr.; DEFENSIVE BACK: Aaron Harris, Grandview, jr.; Ricky Munoz, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Aaron Reed, Rangeview, sr.; Riley Wiggs, Regis Jesuit, sr.; PUNTER: Sean Roberts, Cherokee Trail, soph.; RETURNER: KJ Sapp, Cherokee Trail, sr.


OFFENSE — Fransisco Aranda, Aurora Central, sr. (RB); Isaiah Ashfield, Gateway, sr. (OL); Tyrese Bailey, Vista PEAK, jr. (RB); Tyreeh Bell, Gateway, sr. (WR); Micah Chavez, Grandview, sr. (RB); Corey Corbin, Eaglecrest, jr. (WR); Colby Craft, Aurora Central, sr. (RB); Markell Davis, Gateway, sr. (RB); Xavier Delk, Gateway, jr. (QB); Sean Dunnington, Regis Jesuit, jr. (OL); Skyler Garcia, Vista PEAK, jr. (OL); Dylan Graham, Rangeview, jr. (OL); Jalil Grimes, Aurora Central, sr. (QB); Marcus Hart, Vista PEAK, sr. (OL); Ian Kelly, Cherokee Trail, sr. (OL); Jouan Kennedy, Aurora Central, sr. (RB); Shawn Koehler, Gateway, sr. (OL); Justin Lamb, Regis Jesuit, jr. (QB); Jace Lester, Rangeview, sr. (OL); Carson Mandrell, Grandview, sr. (OL); Ajonte Manlove, Gateway, jr. (WR); Aubrey Marschel-Parker, Regis Jesuit, jr. (WR); Kiahn Martinez, Regis Jesuit, soph. (RB); Zach Meade, Regis Jesuit, sr. (OL); Onyi Ozoma, Rangeview, sr. (OL); Demarius Pittman, Smoky Hill, jr. (WR); Terell Ratcliff, Aurora Central, soph. (Ath); Chad Ronish, Eaglecrest, sr. (OL); Theryne Sandoval-Jimenez, Eaglecrest, jr. (PK); KJ Sapp, Cherokee Trail, sr. (WR); Daniel Smashum, Vista PEAK, jr. (WR); Matthew Stravato, Overland, sr. (PK); Javon Thermidore, Overland, soph. (TE); Erick Torres, Gateway, jr. (PK); Kevin Traylor Jr., Gateway, jr. (RB); Daniel Worst, Rangeview, soph. (PK)

DEFENSE Rosdrick Anderson, Vista PEAK, sr. (DB); Elijah Anderson-Taylor, Eaglecrest, soph. (LB); Jeremiah Blackwood, Vista PEAK, soph. (LB); Julius Carter Jr., Grandview, jr. (LB); Matt Carter, Regis Jesuit, sr. (DL); Kevin Clark, Grandview, jr. (DB); Wendell Cole, Overland, soph. (DB); David Daugherty, Smoky Hill, soph. (DB); Tyler Dufour, Eaglecrest, soph. (LB); Lewis Griffin, Gateway, sr. (DL); Kyron Harbin, Smoky Hill, sr. (DB); Luis Hernandez, Aurora Central, sr. (LB); Jon Heupal, Eaglecrest, jr. (DB); Preston Hoffman, Gateway, jr. (LB); Thomas Jenkins, Grandview, jr. (LB); Sean Kaai, Rangeview, sr. (LB); Sammy Kane, Vista PEAK, soph. (DB); Jordan Knapke, Grandview, jr. (DB); Bross Lee, Eaglecrest, sr. (DB); Jace Lester, Rangeview, sr. (LB); Jason Maes, Gateway, sr. (DB); Carson Mandrell, Grandview, sr. (LB); Dechlyn Miller, Vista PEAK, jr. (LB); Yao Ofori, Cherokee Trail, sr. (DL); David Okeke, Grandview, sr. (DL); Onyi Ozoma, Rangeview, sr. (DL); Quinton Powell, Cherokee Trail, jr. (DB); Alex Russom, Rangeview, jr. (DL); Darius Swanson, Cherokee Trail, jr. (DB); Javon Thermidore, Overland, soph. (LB); Clinton Thomas, Rangeview, sr. (DL); Marc Thomas, Cherokee Trail, jr. (LB); Michael Thompson, Aurora Central, soph. (LB); Omari Walker, Hinkley, sr. (DB); Will West, Hinkley, sr. (LB); Trey Williams, Regis Jesuit, sr. (DL); Robert Woods, Grandview, sr. (LB); Jackie Wynn, Eaglecrest, sr. (DL); Matt Youngblood, Eaglecrest, soph. (DL); Josh Zambrano, Cherokee Trail, sr. (DB)