2016 CLASS 5A STATE FOOTBALL QUARTERFINAL MATCHUP
NO. 5 EAGLECREST (11-0) AT NO. 4 REGIS JESUIT (10-1)
At Lou Kellogg Stadium, Nov. 18, 7 p.m.
BREAKDOWN: Eaglecrest and Regis Jesuit square off in the Class 5A state quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at Lou Kellogg Stadium to see which local program will represent the area in the semifinals and remain alive in the hunt for the state football championship. The teams — the hottest in the playoffs coming in as Eaglecrest has won 11 straight and Regis Jesuit is on a nine-game unbeaten streak — meet in the postseason for the second time in the past seven years as they played in the second round of the 2009 playoffs on the same field as Regis Jesuit prevailed 49-0 in a memorable game played in a massive snowstorm…Eaglecrest has advanced to the 5A state quarterfinals for only the third time since 2000 and it lost both times in that round, to Chatfield in 2001 and to Cherokee Trail in 2012…Regis Jesuit, conversely, is in the 5A quarterfinals for the third straight season and fifth time in the past eight seasons, but has not advanced to the semifinals since it made the state championship game in 2010 where it fell to rival Mullen.
EAGLECREST: Coach Mike Schmitt’s fifth-seeded Raptors posted the program’s most lopsided playoff victory in at least 16 years with a 40-12 thumping of No. 12 Chaparral on Nov. 11 at Legacy Stadium, which extended 5A’s only remaining undefeated team to 11-0 on the season. Eaglecrest did nearly all of its damage on offense on the ground with 254 of its 279 yards of total offense coming from the run game, led by junior RB Kenny Wantings with 123 yards (on just 14 carries) plus 68 yards from junior QB Jalen Mergerson (plus two touchdowns) and 64 and a score (on just six carries) from junior RB/WR Victor Garnes. Wantings broke the 100-yard mark for the sixth time this season and needs just 64 yards to reach 1,000 for the season, while he’s scored touchdowns in consecutive games. Mergerson has thrown for 1,275 yards on the season, but had just 25 in the playoff opener and still owns a phenomenal 17:2 touchdown to interception ratio, while his 751 rushing yards ranks second on the team. Garnes (who has 638 yards on 61 carries plus nine scores) opened the postseason with three-touchdown day with one rushing, another on a 99-yard kickoff return and yet another on an interception return…Defensively, Eaglecrest is tied with Pomona for the second-fewest points allowed in 5A with 139, seven points behind leader Columbine. Not surprisingly, all three of those teams — and the top seven in fewest points allowed — remain alive in the 5A playoffs along with Mullen, which ranks 13th. The Raptors continue to be lead in tackles by junior LB Cody Bardin, who went over the 100 mark for the season with an 11-tackle effort in the regular season finale against Arvada West, while sophomore LB Tyler Dufour returned to the lineup for the playoff opener after missing the previous game after just getting cleared from the concussion protocol. Garnes has eight interceptions on the season to lead the way for a unit that has forced nearly two turnovers per game and he has picked off at least one pass in four straight games, while senior DB Kyle Johnson has four interceptions as well. Junior DE Kyante Christian leads the team in sacks and sophomore Elijah Anderson-Taylor has also shown the ability to get after the passer.
REGIS JESUIT: Coach Danny Filleman leads the Raiders into the playoffs for the second time since taking over as head coach and has his team rolling since a Week 2 loss to Mullen. Regis Jesuit has moved up to second in 5A in total points scored with 416 and has scored no fewer than 34 points in a game since it was shutout in a 17-0 loss to the Mustangs, which includes a 48-point effort in a 48-28 victory over Fairview in the opening round of the 5A playoffs on Nov. 11. The Raiders scored 28 points in the first quarter alone and piled up 432 yards of total offense, including 320 (plus five touchdowns) on the ground. Senior RB Alfred Jones exploded for 140 yards and two scores on just seven carries (an average of 20 yards per attempt), while sophomore RB Kiahn Martinez added 111 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries and junior RB DJ Jackson made the most of his eight carries with 74 yards and two TDs. For the season, the running back trio has combined for exactly 2,000 yards and 34 touchdowns as they have rotated effectively throughout games as the Raiders have worn down their opponents. With the ground game working so well against Fairview, junior QB Justin Lamb — continuing to regain his form after missing some time midseason with an injury — found plenty of openings in the passing game and completed 10 of his 14 throws for 112 yards and TDs to junior WRs Aubrey Marschel-Parker and Cade Mendenhall. With just seven games of action, Lamb has thrown for 992 yards and 11 touchdowns, while senior QB Michael McPeek has 504 yards and three TDs as he’s seen at least some playing time in all but one game. Senior WR Quentin Birch is catching fire of late and has snared a team-high 47 passes for 564 yards and four touchdowns, second behind the six scores for Marschel-Parker. PK Jared Worrick has connected on four of his five field goal attempts with a long of 43 yards…Defensively, Regis Jesuit has yielded 172 points, which ranks as the fifth-fewest in 5A, with strong play at levels. Senior LBs Alec Hamilton and Will Kulick racked up 12 and 10 tackles, respectively, against the Knights and have reached triple figures in stops on the season, as has junior LB Tama Tuitele. Junior DE Jake Heimlicher added two sacks to his team-leading total of 14 against Fairview and senior DE Trey Williams also took down the quarterback twice. Jackson, Kulick, senior S Ricky Munoz and junior DB Patrick Roe all had interceptions for Regis Jesuit’s playmaking defense, which helped the Raiders to a 42-14 lead after three quarters.
WINNER GETS: The Regis Jesuit vs. Eaglecrest winner moves in the 5A semifinals, where it will face the winner of the quarterfinal between No. 9 Columbine and No. 1 Pomona. According to coin flips, Eaglecrest and Regis Jesuit would both play on the road if Pomona wins, while Eaglecrest would be the home team if it wins and Columbine also wins.