The Eaglecrest football team is likely to use heavy doses of senior running Diego Cearns in its Class 5A state football first round playoff game against Fountain-Fort Carson on Nov. 4, 2022. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

AURORA | A capsule preview of the 2022 Class 5A state football first round playoff contest between Eaglecrest and Fountain-Fort Carson scheduled for Nov. 4, 2022:

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected]: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports

2022 CLASS 5A 1ST ROUND STATE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF GAME

No. 17 Eaglecrest (7-3) vs. No. 16 Fountain-Fort Carson (7-3)

Nov. 4, 7 p.m. at Fountain-Fort Carson

BREAKDOWN: Eaglecrest and Fountain-Fort Carson will meet in the Class 5A state playoffs for the second time in six seasons, as they last went against each other in the opening round of the 2017 postseason. The Raptors won that game 35-14 to start a run that put carried them into the state championship game. The teams also met in non-league regular season play in 2019 (a 40-19 Eaglecrest win) and 2018 (a 55-41 Eaglecrest victory). …Eaglecrest had a five-year streak of playoff qualification snapped last season, but has been part of the postseason eight times in the past 10 years. …Fountain-Fort Carson is back in the 5A playoffs after it made the 4A postseason last season and advanced to the quarterfinals. The Trojans were a semifinal team in the eight-team 4A playoffs during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

EAGLECREST: Mike Schmitt returned as head coach after a four-year absence and guided the Raptors from a 1-9 campaign a year ago to seven wins and a fourth-place finish in the 5A League 4 standings following a 38-0 loss to No. 8 Arapahoe in the regular season finale. During the regular season, Eaglecrest played five teams (No. 1 Cherry Creek, No. 4 Grandview, No. 8 Arapahoe, No. 20 Rocky Mountain and No. 22 Cherokee Trail) that qualified for the 5A playoffs and went 2-3 in those games, as it topped Rocky Mountain in non-league play and Cherokee Trail in a league contest. …Eaglecrest only failed to score one time on the season and averaged 27.1 points per contest, while it ceded 22.2 per game and posted one shutout defensively. The Raptors have run the ball with good effectiveness behind a reliable offensive line that has given enough creases for electric senior RB Diego Cearns to exploit to the tune of 1,387 yards and 11 touchdowns in addition to another 119 yards and a touchdown receiving. Senior QB Jacob Schmitt has thrown for 1,096 yards and 15 touchdowns (versus nine interceptions) and has spread the ball around as seven different players have caught at least one touchdown pass. Sophomore WR Xavier Waldron leads the team in receiving yards (254) and receiving touchdowns (4), while Cearns, sophomore WRs Burke Withycombe and Zavion Gamble and junior TE Logan Ryan have all had their moments in the passing game. …Defensively, Eaglecrest has been led by its defensive backfield, but will miss impact senior DB Peyton Taylor due to injury according to Schmitt. The Raptors have intercepted 14 passes on the season with six coming from junior S Cam Chapa, who is also the team’s leading tackler with 87 on the season, and three from Taylor, the team’s leader in passes defensed with eight. Sophomore LB Ramadje Owens has two interceptions and two fumble recoveries, including one taken back for a touchdown, while senior LB Zach Mueller has made 76 tackles. …On special teams, Cearns is a dynamic kickoff returner (with three return touchdowns) and Taylor (when healthy) was a big threat on punt returns and took two back for scores. Sophomore PK Owen Ellingson has made a pair of field goals on the season.

FOUNTAIN-FORT CARSON: Coach Jake Novotny’s team ended the regular season on a three-game winning streak capped by a large 21-14 road win over No. 7 Regis Jesuit that put the Trojans in fourth place in the 5A League 6 standings. During the regular season, Fountain-Fort Carson played four teams (No. 5 Pine Creek, No. 7 Regis Jesuit, No. 15 Legend and No. 24 Doherty) that qualified for the 5A playoffs and split those games with wins over Regis Jesuit in league play and in the non-league over Doherty. …Fountain-Fort Carson has been shut out one time, but still managed to average 35.8 points per game, while it posted three shutouts defensively and gave up 15.2 per contest. …The Trojans have had good balance offensively with 2,025 yards coming on the ground and 1,860 coming through the air. Senior QB Tavian Tuli — who checks in at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds — has had a hand in both as he has thrown for 1,833 yards and 18 touchdowns (versus nine interceptions) and also rushed for a 527 yards and five scores. Junior RB Mathias Price tops four rushers with more than 100 yards gained with 886 and eight touchdowns. Five receivers have multiple touchdown catches for Fountain-Fort Carson as senior WR Darin Martin leads in yardage (507 yards) and touchdowns (five), followed by senior TE Jesiah Stevens-Silva (422 yards, four TDs). …Defensively, senior LB Tai Faavae has racked up a team-high 87 tackles (plus three interceptions), while senior DE Darren Powell and junior LB Anthony Johnson-Griffin share the lead in sacks with four apiece. The Trojans have scored six touchdowns on turnovers with four interceptions and two fumbles taken back to the end zone. …On special teams, junior Zackari Sanders has been a weapon in the return game.

WINNER GETS: The Eaglecrest-Fountain-Fort Carson winner advances in Quadrant 1 of the 5A bracket and will face top-seeded Cherry Creek, which had a first-round bye.

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