Football: Capsule look at Cherokee Trail vs. Mullen

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CLASS 5A SECOND ROUND STATE PLAYOFF MATCHUP

NO. 14 MULLEN (6-4) vs. NO. 3 CHEROKEE TRAIL (9-1)

Nov. 9, Legacy Stadium, 7 p.m.

BREAKDOWN: A matchup of familiar foes, as both teams were in the same league until realignment two seasons ago. Mullen enjoys a 4-0 advantage in the all-time series, including a 28-9 non-league victory in 2011 and a 29-0 win the year before that. In league play, the Mustangs downed the Cougars 20-7 in 2009 and 29-7 in 2008. The teams have never met in the playoffs. …CHEROKEE TRAIL: Coach Monte Thelen’s Cougars have become regulars in the second round of the 5A playoffs, as they are there for the fourth time in five seasons since moving up to Class 5A. Cherokee Trail advanced with a 43-6 victory over No. 30 Mountain Range on Nov. 2 at Legacy Stadium, as it scored the last 35 points to break open a one-point game at halftime. Sophomore Cameron Smith rushed for two touchdowns and caught one in the third quarter, which saw quarterback Aric Johnson also toss a TD pass to Brandon Barry.  Smith finished with 116 yards rushing, highlighted by a 63-yard scoring run, while Thomas Thortvedt added an interception return for a touchdown for Cherokee Trail. …Smith is the Cougars’ leading rusher with 598 yards and seven touchdowns, while Cameron Currington has carried for 472 yards and six scores and Johnson has added 337 yards and six ground TDs in addition to throw for six and 986 yards. Barry’s 252 yards is the top mark for a Cherokee Trail passcatcher. Defensively, junior Kaleb Barnum is the team’s leading tackler, while Ryan Winke has posted six sacks and Evan White is tops on the team with six interceptions, followed by four from Jackson Burrell and three from Thortvedt. …MULLEN: The Mustangs won their first playoff game under new coach Tom Thenell, as they rallied to knock of feisty 19th-seeded Overland 25-20 on Nov. 2 at de La Salle Stadium. Mullen’s winning score came on a touchdown run by Conor Brady, who had a huge game with 225 yards of total offense (157 rushing, 68 receiving) plus a pair of scores. Quarterback Gasper Dominici scored on a 1-yard sneak and John Scott drilled a pair of field goals to round out the scoring for the Mustangs, who trailed by a point with just over three minutes remaining before launching its go-ahead drive. Mullen then survived Overland’s last-gasp effort, including an incomplete pass on fourth down in the end zone … Brady is the team’s leading rusher with 1,339 yards and 17 touchdowns, while is also the top receiver with 374 yards and two TDs. Ryan Gomerdinger has a team-best 57 catches, but netted just 296 yards and one touchdown. Castille Bayers is 10 tackles short of 100 for the Mullen defense, which has racked up 28 sacks on the season. …WINNER: The winner plays No. 6 Chaparral or No. 22 Eaglecrest in the 5A quarterfinals. Based on CHSAA coin flips, Cherokee Trail will be on the road for the next round with a win no matter which other team wins. With a win, Mullen would be at home with an Eaglecrest victory and on the road with a Chaparral win.

Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555