AURORA | A capsule preview of the 2021 Class 5A state football second round playoff contest between Mullen and Grandview scheduled for Nov. 12, 2021:
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected]: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2021 CLASS 5A 2ND ROUND STATE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF GAME
No. 13 Mullen (4-7) vs. No. 4 Grandview (8-2)
Nov. 12, 7 p.m. at Legacy Stadium
BREAKDOWN: Grandview and Mullen have a history together from years of being in the Centennial League, where the Wolves remain, while the Mustangs now play in the Jeffco League, but the programs will meet in the Class 5A state playoffs for only the second time ever. The only previous meeting came back in the 2010 semifinals and Mullen rolled to a 41-7 victory in that contest. …The Wolves’ streak of qualifying for the state playoffs got snapped at 15 seasons after they missed out on last season’s postseason, which was limited to just eight teams due to the coronavirus pandemic. Grandview lost its first game of the 2019 playoffs (to Eaglecrest after having a first round bye), so the program is in search of its first postseason victory since the quarterfinal round of the 2018 playoffs. …The Mustangs missed out on the playoffs last season as well and last appeared in 2019 when they lost to Mountain Vista in the first round. Mullen’s first-round victory was the first for the program in the postseason since 2016.
MULLEN: Coach Jeremy Bennett’s Mustangs were one of just two teams to qualify for the 24-team Class 5A state playoffs with a record below .500, as a 3-7 regular season record was boosted in some of the qualifying formulas by the fact that eight of their 10 opponents made the playoffs and one of their victories came against Legend, the No. 3 overall seed (25-21 in Week 2). Mullen picked up another victory in the opening round as it rolled past 20th-seeded Douglas County 34-7 in a game that saw senior RB Kyle Krebs rush for two touchdowns and a kickoff return for a touchdown by senior WR Michael Brouillette. …Mullen has piled up 76 points in its final two games (wins over Lakewood and Douglas County), but averages 22.2 points per game for the season. The Mustangs have a 1,000-yard rusher in the backfield in Krebs, who has racked up 1,067 yards and scored eight touchdowns, while a number of others have combined for nearly another 1,000 yards on the ground. Junior QB Kaleb Valdez-Lemos is next in rushing with 350 yards, while he has thrown for 556 yards and two touchdowns. Mullen has five players that have double-digit receptions on the season with the most coming from senior WR Nick Carje (450 yards, 4 touchdowns), while senior WR Owen Hearty (349 yards, 2 TDs) and Brouillette (269 yards) have been heavily involved, as has Krebs (200 yards, 3 TDs) out of the backfield. …Defensively, opponents have averaged 25.5 points against the Mustangs, though the last two foes combined for just seven. Junior LB Ishmael Aceves has been around the ball often this season and has racked up 105 tackles, while senior LB Jaxon Heil has 98 of his own. Senior LB Connor Warren has harassed opposing passers all season and come up with 8.5 sacks. Mullen has forced 13 turnovers and Brouillette and senior DB Juan Bertaud had two interceptions apiece. …Brouilette is a game-changer on special teams with four kick returns for touchdowns, three of them on kickoffs. Senior PK Bryce Sohayda has missed just one of his 30 PAT kicks and made both of his field goal tries.
GRANDVIEW: In the first season under coach Tom Doherty — who took over after coaching legend John Schultz retired after last season — the Wolves finished with an 8-2 record with losses coming to two top-five seeds in the Class 5A playoffs (No. 2 Cherry Creek and No. 5 Ralston Valley), each by single digits. Grandview won its last three games after a loss to Cherry Creek and grabbed a share of the Centennial League title with a 32-13 win over Arapahoe in the regular season finale. …Under Doherty, the former defensive coordinator at Cherry Creek, Grandview’s defense has been outstanding and has yielded just an average of 14.9 points per game. Senior S Malique Singleton has been a bigtime playmaker as he not only has 74 tackles to rank second on the team, but he also has five of the Wolves’ nine interceptions on the season (including a 95-yard pick-six against Cherry Creek) and one of its two fumble recoveries. Junior LB Max Kibbee leads Grandview tacklers with 78 stops and sophomore LB Preston Emken has been all over the field as well and junior DE Mulumba Wa-Kalonji is the team’s sack leader with six, while four other players have multiple sacks, including senior DL James Margerum. Senior DBs Kahden Rullo and Marcus Williams have also been staples of the defensive backfield for Grandview and have combined for 76 tackles. …The Grandview offense has been prolific this season with an average of 29.9 points per game under the direction of sophomore QB Liam Szarka, who has thrown for 1,265 yards and nine touchdowns on the season. With a hard-working offensive line providing push, the Wolves have been an effective running team as they’ve long been — especially after the return of senior RB Moosah Alsaffar, who has rushed for 755 yards and seven touchdowns in just seven games — while Szarka is next with 397 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground and junior RB Chase Dahir has chipped in 359 yards and four scores. The passing game has plenty of weapons including senior WR Evan Johnson, who has 411 yards receiving and three touchdown to lead the team in both categories, while senior WR Tristan Burrus has 315 yards receiving and senior WR Charlie Dick 260. …Grandview has had one of the most dangerous special teams units in the state in the return game as Johnson has three punt returns for touchdowns and Burrus has also taken one back to the end zone. Senior PK Ben Beckman has made 35 of his 39 PATs and connected on 4-of-5 field goal attempts with a long of 46 yards.
WINNER GETS: The Mullen-Grandview winner moves into a 5A quarterfinal contest between the winner of the second round matchup between No. 12 Cherokee Trail and No. 5 Ralston Valley. The Wolves defeated Cherokee Trail and lost to Ralston Valley during the regular season, while the Mustangs lost to both the Cougars and Mustangs.