2016 CLASS 5A STATE FOOTBALL QUARTERFINAL MATCHUP
NO. 6 GRANDVIEW (10-1) AT NO. 3 VALOR CHRISTIAN (8-3)
At Eagles Stadium, Nov. 18, 7 p.m.
BREAKDOWN: Grandview and Valor Christian get reacquainted in the quarterfinal round of the Class 5A state playoffs, as the former Centennial League members play at 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at Eagles Stadium. The Wolves and Eagles meet in the postseason for the second time, as Valor Christian prevailed 14-7 over Grandview in the 2014 5A state semifinals. The teams have met five times in all since 2010 and the Wolves have won twice (28-19 in 2010 and 24-21 in 2014) and the Eagles have won three times (45-17 in 2011, 14-7 in 2014 and 31-14 in 2015)….Grandview has now won its first game in the playoffs for 12 consecutive seasons and a win would put the program into the 5A semifinals for the fourth time in the past seven seasons. The Wolves seek a return to the 5A state championship game for the first time since 2007….Valor Christian won last season’s 5A state championship and has now won six straight games in the postseason. The Eagles moved up to 5A in 2012 and have played for the classification’s title in all four previous seasons, going 3-1.
GRANDVIEW: Coach John Schultz’s Wolves — the Mount Massive League champion — kicked off the postseason with a 37-7 victory over 11th-seeded Legacy on Nov. 11 at Stutler Bowl to continue the program’s dominance in the opening round of the playoffs and stretch their winning streak to eight games dating back to a seven-point loss to undefeated Eaglecrest on Sept. 16. The highest-scoring team in 5A boosted its point total to 449 for the year with a sixth-straight output of 30-plus points. Grandview opened the game with a six-minute, 13-play, 80-yard march against the Lightning that resulted in a short rushing touchdown by senior QB Gunnar Lamphere, while senior RB Hayden Blubaugh also rushed for a pair of touchdowns and Lamphere hooked up with junior WR Gunner Gentry for another TD in another strong performance by an offense that Schultz considers one of the best units he’s had in more than a decade with the Wolves. Blubaugh added a third touchdown on special teams when he fielded a field goal attempt that fell short and returned it 99 yards to the end zone. For the season, Blubaugh has scored 20 rushing touchdowns and tallied more than 1,600 yards on the ground, using the creases he gets from an offensive line keyed by senior OLs Robert Moss, Kohltin Lund and others. Lamphere is also an effective runner and ranks second on the team in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, while he’s an efficient passer who has thrown for 20 touchdowns, including nine to Gentry. Blubaugh and senior FB Micah Chavez have also been dangerous as pass catchers out of the backfield….Defensively, Schultz has a young unit that has continued to improve throughout the season and held a potent Legacy offense to just one touchdown, while it scored a fourth quarter safety. The Wolves come at offenses in waves, though senior LB Carson Mandrell and juniors Thomas Jenkins, Jordan Knapke and Luke LaFlam have been in on all sorts of plays this season. Senior DE David Okeke has been strong on the pass rush, while junior DE Julius Carter Jr. has made an impact on defense and on special teams, as has junior DB Kevin Carter.
VALOR CHRISTIAN: Coach Rod Sherman’s Eagles — the Mount Lincoln League champion — come into the quarterfinal matchup on a seven-game winning streak, which includes a 42-0 victory over No. 13 Cherokee Trail in the 5A opening round on Nov. 11. The offensive effort — the seventh straight game with 42 points or more — boosted Valor Christian to sixth in 5A in points scored with 401. Senior QB Dylan McCaffrey (a University of Michigan recruit) had a dominating and efficient outing to open the postseason by completing 80 percent of his passes (12-for-15) for 221 yards and four touchdowns, including three to his brother, sophomore WR Luke McCaffrey, while he also rushed for a touchdown. Dylan McCaffrey has thrown for 2,305 yards and 26 touchdowns, while he’s also accounted for eight scores on the ground and ranks second on the team in rushing with 383 yards. Sophomore RB Joshia Davis piled up 125 yards in the playoff win and paces Valor Christian with 700 yards and seven touchdowns, while Davis, Luke McCaffrey and senior WR Jack Walley all have more than 30 catches and 400-plus yards receiving to lead a group of passcatchers that has six players with 21 or more receptions…Defensively, Valor Christian has posted back-to-back shutouts against Fountain-Fort Carson and Cherokee Trail and with 191 points allowed ranks as the seventh-fewest in 5A. Senior LB Will Rodgers racked up two sacks and eight tackles against the Cougars and ranks second on the team in sacks with 5.0, just a half of a sack behind senior LB Christian Elliss, who has 5.5 sacks and 53 tackles, one fewer than team leader LB Matthew Thibault, a junior.
WINNER GETS: The Grandview-Valor Christian winner advances to the semifinals to play the winner of the quarterfinal contest between No. 7 Cherry Creek and No. 2 Mullen. According to coin flips, Grandview would be the home team against either the Bruins or Mustangs in the semifinals, while Valor Christian would travel to play against either opponent.