AURORA | A capsule look at the 2017 Class 5A state football first round playoff matchup between No. 11 Mullen and No. 6 Regis Jesuit:
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
NO. 11 MULLEN (5-5) VS. NO. 6 REGIS JESUIT (9-1)
7 p.m., Nov. 10 at Lou Kellogg Stadium
BREAKDOWN: Regis Jesuit and Mullen have a longstanding rivalry on the football field and play often in the regular season and playoffs. This marks the fourth time since 2000 that the Raiders and Mustangs square off in the postseason, including the 2010 season when they played for the Class 5A state championship. Mullen won all three of the previous playoff contests with Regis Jesuit, 49-7 in the first round of the 2000 playoffs, 54-27 in the first round of the 2002 playoffs and 37-6 in the state final. The parochial school rivals have played in the regular season for the past six seasons, with each owning three wins in that span. Mullen took this season’s meeting 40-39 in Week 2 with a 26-point fourth quarter that included the go-ahead touchdown and extra point in the closing seconds.
MULLEN (5-5): The Mustangs come into the 5A state playoffs as one of three teams from the Mount Cameron League, in which they finished third behind two other state qualifiers, No. 3 Columbine and No. 5 Fairview. Coach Tom Thenell’s Mullen team finished the season with wins over ThunderRidge and Northglenn to get to .500 at the end of a schedule that included five teams that made the 16-team 5A playoff field (beating No. 6 Regis Jesuit and losing to No. 1 Valor Christian, No. 3 Columbine, No. 4 Pomona and No. 5 Fairview)…Offensively, the Mustangs have good balance with 1,831 rushing yards and 1,691 passing yards for the season in 10 games with a scoring average of 31.6 points per game. Mullen is one of the few teams with three 500-yard rushers in senior WR A’Jon Vivens (656 yards), senior RB Alonzo Moon (638, 7 TDs) and sophomore RB Damien Cearns (508, 6 TDs), though Moon is injured. So, too, is junior QB Dom Depizzol, who threw six touchdown passes against Regis Jesuit in the first meeting of the teams. Sophomore QB Kyle Remington has taken over in Depizzol’s stead and thrown for 276 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions in four games. When the Mustangs go to the air, the target is often the aptly named WR Wind Henderson, a junior who has 637 yards receiving and seven touchdowns (four against Regis Jesuit), while Vivens has caught 39 balls for 557 yards and four scores…Defensively, Mullen — which has allowed 30.6 points per game this season after giving up just 20 per game last season — is led by an Under Armour All-American in senior LB Adrian Jackson, a University of Oregon commitment. Jackson is the second-leading tackler behind senior LB Cooper Johnson and tied for tops on the team with a pair of interceptions, while sophomore NG Aidan Ikaika keanaaina has a team-best four sacks.
REGIS JESUIT (9-1): The Raiders qualified for the state playoffs as the only team out of the Mount Antero League, the only other conference besides the Mount Massive League (Grandview) to get just one team into the postseason. Regis Jesuit has pushed its streak of playoff appearances to 11 straight seasons dating back to 2007 (Regis Jesuit Playoff History Since 1990) and it has won at least one game in seven of its last eight postseasons, including a semifinal showing last season. On a schedule that included two playoff teams (No. 11 Mullen and No. 14 Highlands Ranch), coach Danny Filleman‘s Raiders finished 9-1 with an average margin of victory of 27 points per game…Offensively, Regis Jesuit has been soaring of late as it finished the season with four games scoring 42 points or more. In the regular season finale, a 42-6 win over Bear Creek that clinched the league championship, senior QB Justin Lamb threw for 248 yards and touchdown passes to senior WR Aubrey Marschel-Parker, senior WR Jack Peppercorn and senior RB Tama Tuitele, while junior RB Kiahn Martinez racked up 108 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries. For the season, Lamb has been been very efficient with totals of 1,608 yards passing and 17 TDs versus just two interceptions, while Marschel-Parker (685 yards receiving, seven touchdowns) and senior WR Cade Mendenhall (390 yards, 2 TDs) have been his primary targets, while senior TE Jake Heimlicher has emerged as another threat with 12 catches for 196 yards and three scores. Part of a running back by committee last season, Martinez has flourished as the primarily ballcarrier (with the loss of senior RB DJ Jackson to injury) and he’s nearly doubled his yardage total (1,356 yards, up from 797 last season) and scored 20 touchdowns, with Lamb next with 297 yards and five scores…Defensively, Heimlicher has continued to be a sack machine for the Raiders with 15 after he racked up 22 last season and he’s done it despite extra defensive attention, while senior DE AJ Smallwood has been exceptionally active along the line as well. Senior LB Ben Hecht has piled up 136 tackles and Tuitele has made 126 for Regis Jesuit, while senior DB Patrick Roe is a turnover machine with eight interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Senior DB Michael Bennett had a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown against Bear Creek and has two picks on the season, as does junior LB Geno Macias.
WINNER GETS: The Mullen-Regis Jesuit winner moves into a Nov. 17-18 quarterfinals against the winner of the first round game between No. 14 Highlands Ranch and No. 3 Columbine, scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 10 at Jeffco Stadium.
??? — Full Class 5A state playoff bracket & schedule, here