AURORA | A capsule preview of the 2023 Class 5A state football second round playoff contest between Granview and Regis Jesuit scheduled for Nov. 10, 2023:
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at email@example.com. Twitter/X: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2023 CLASS 5A STATE FOOTBALL SECOND ROUND PLAYOFF GAME
No. 11 Grandview (7-4) vs. No. 6 Regis Jesuit (6-4)
Nov. 10, 6:30 p.m. at Lou Kellogg Stadium
BREAKDOWN: Grandview and Regis Jesuit meet in the Class 5A state playoffs for only the second time and the first time since the same round back in 2013, when the Wolves defeated the Raiders 31-21 (see story, here). Though just up Arapahoe Road from each other, the programs have not squared off in the regular season before or since the playoff contest. …Grandview is in the postseason for the 18th time in the past 19 seasons — missing out only in the 2020 season in which the playoffs included just eight teams due to the coronavirus pandemic — and has made it to at least the quarterfinals in the last two seasons. The program’s only state championship came when it won the 5A state title in 2007. …Regis Jesuit has been to at least the quarterfinals for four straight seasons and six times in the past seven seasons, but hasn’t been able to get through to the semifinals since 2016. Overall, the Raiders have made the postseason for 17 straight seasons and have two state runner-up finishes all-time (in 1982 in 4A and in 2010 in 5A). ...NOTE: Veteran assistant coach Bob McPhee will be the interim coach for Regis Jesuit in the game as Danny Filleman serves a one-game suspension (story, here).
GRANDVIEW: Coach Tom Doherty’s Wolves were 6-2 to start the season, then dropped consecutive Centennial League contests to No. 19 Cherokee Trail (23-21) and No. 1 Cherry Creek (45-22) going into the postseason. Grandview’s 10 regular season foes included seven state playoff qualifiers, including No. 1 Cherry Creek,No. 3 Arapahoe, No. 5 Ralston Valley, No. 16 Eaglecrest, No. 19 Cherokee Trail and No. 24 Fossil Ridge along with Fruita Monument, which is the No. 13 seed in the 4A playoffs. …The Wolves picked up a 28-21 victory over No. 22 Douglas County Nov. 3 at Legacy Stadium in the 5A first round in game in which they built a 28-point lead and then held on to win. Junior WR Xay Neto set a program record with 257 yards receiving and caught two touchdown passes from senior QB Liam Szarka, while Szarka and junior RB Donavon Vernon both had rushing scores. Szarka finished with 395 yards of total offense. Defensively, Grandview picked up six sacks and had seven tackles for loss, including three from junior DT Marcus Nesbitt. …In 11 games, Grandview has averaged 31.4 points per game and hasn’t been held below 15 all season. In this third season as a starter, Szarka is the catalyst and has accrued 2,615 yards of total offense (2,135 passing, 480 rushing) and accounted for 32 touchdowns (22 passing, 10 rushing). The Wolves will get junior WR Kyler Vaughn — the team’s leading receiver with 629 yards and nine touchdowns — back from injury for the second round game, while Neto has moved into second on the team in receiving yards (547) and receiving touchdowns (4), while senior WR Nate Denton and junior TE Dominic Henning (who have combined for 841 yards receiving and seven touchdowns) will be out due to injury. Sophomore RB Chris Blanks, who missed the first playoff game, is the team’s leading rusher with 485 yards and has scored six touchdowns, the same as Vernon, who has 427 yards rushing as well to rank third behind Blanks and Szarka. …The Grandview defense has allowed an average of 22.1 points per game over 11 contests and four games in which it held the opposition to 14 or fewer points. Junior FS Brandon Kahre is the team’s leading tackler with 100 stops (to go with a team-best seven passes defensed), just in front of senior DE Nkongolo Wa-Kalonji, who has 96 to go with a team-leading four sacks. The Wolves haven’t generated a ton of turnovers, but have four players with an interception. …On special teams, Vaughn and Neto have both been effective in the return game, while senior PK Kyle Chavez has made five fields in seven attempts (with a long of 36 yards) and been successful on 30 of 37 extra point tries.
REGIS JESUIT: Coach Danny Filleman’s Raiders — who had to replace a massive senior class from the previous season — sat at 3-4 before a three-game winning streak to conclude the regular season in which they outscored their opponents 123-17. Regis Jesuit’s 10 regular season foes have a combined record of 70-33 record and eight of the nine in-state opponents made the 5A playoffs in No. 1 Cherry Creek, No. 3 Arapahoe, No. 5 Ralston Valley, No. 6 Pine Creek, No. 7 Valor Christian, No. 10 Legend, No. 18 Fountain-Fort Carson and No. 22 Douglas County, while Kennedy Catholic is a nine-win team that made Washington’s 4A football postseason. …Against quality competition, the Raiders averaged 31.1 points per game and scored 17 or more points in every game with four games of 35 or more. Senior RB Anthony Medina has been an extremely effective weapon for Regis Jesuit as the team’s leading rusher (579 yards) and receiver (432 yards) in addition to 16 total touchdowns, while junior RB Garrett Reece has added 353 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. Junior QB Peyton Lindell has been effective in his first season as a starter and has thrown for 1,820 yards and 16 touchdowns against nine interceptions. Junior WR JoJo Hernandez has 418 yards receiving and five touchdowns, while senior WR Jaden Thermidor has accounted for more than 400 yards of offense along with two touchdowns. …Opponents have averaged 20.8 points per game against the Regis Jesuit defense (with 47 of the 208 total points allowed coming in one game from No. 1 Cherry Creek), while it has held one opponent scoreless and two others to just a touchdown. Senior DE Trevor Nordstrom has been a game-wrecker with a total of 139 tackles that includes eight sacks, which ties him with junior LB Grayson McPherson (who has 103 tackles and four takeaways) for the lead on a defense that has excelled at getting to opponents’ quarterbacks. Junior LB Kai Shelton has racked up 84 tackles as well and has two interceptions and a fumble recovery, while senior DB Lawson Douglas has a team-high four interceptions and has taken one back to the end zone. … On special teams, sophomore PK Jack Manthey has had an outstanding season with seven made field goals (on eight attempts) and has a 52-yard make to his credit. Medina has made an impact on both punt and kickoff returns as well for the Raiders.
WINNER GETS: The Grandview-Regis Jesuit winner moves into the 5A quarterfinals and will face the winner of the second round game between No. 3 Arapahoe and No. 14 Chatfield.