AURORA | Cherokee Trail and Smoky Hill have met in a lot of sports over the years as members of the Centennial League, but they will go against each other in football for the first time since 2013 when they meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Legacy Stadium.
Neither Buffaloes’ coach Tom Thenell nor Cougars’ coach Joe Johnson were around for the last meeting — a 49-0 victory on Sept. 26, 2013, for Cherokee Trail, which was on its way to the Class 5A semifinals — but they will be on the sidelines this time.
Smoky Hill (1-1, 0-1 in Centennial League play) suffered its first regular season loss since the 2017 season in its opener against defending state champion Cherry Creek, then bounced back with a 47-13 win over Poudre in its only non-league game of the season.
Senior quarterback Leslie Richardson III tossed six touchdown passes in the game and has eight on the season, which ties him for second in 5A, as does his 610 passing yards. The trio of seniors Alec Pinkowski and Davien Norman and junior Anthony Harris Jr. at wide receiver all have more than 129 yards receiving and have caught all eight of Richardson III’s TD tosses.
Defensively, senior Kamari Lewis-Stallworth has all three of the Buffaloes’ forced turnovers with two interceptions and a fumble recovery he took back 88 yards for a touchdown against Poudre. Smoky Hill held undefeated Cherry Creek to its fewest points (35) of the season through three games.
Cherokee Trail (0-2, 0-2), meanwhile, has started a season 0-2 for the first time since 2009, its second season since moving up to 5A. This season’s losses looked tremendously different, 62-50 in Week 1 vs. Eaglecrest and 49-7 vs. Cherry Creek in Week 2.
The Cougars exploded for 50 points in their season opener against Eaglecrest, but couldn’t hold a 16-point halftime lead as the Raptors roared back. They showed big play ability the week before. Senior Jack Pierce scored three touchdowns, while junior Nate Gaye Jr. rushed for two touchdowns and senior quarterback Jayden Lavigne threw for two scores.
Gaye Jr. has racked up more than 200 yards on the ground in two games, while junior Ciaran Hyslop has picked up 150.
Cherry Creek’s stout defense — which shut out Grandview Thursday — held down Cherokee Trail’s offense in Week 2, however. The Cougars’ lone score came defensively when senior Sam Hart (an Ohio State commitment) stripped the ball away from a Bruins’ running back and returned it to the end zone.
Cherokee Trail’s defense has generated a variety of turnovers, but has also allowed 111 points. The Cougars also have a special teams score that came when a mishandled snap on an Eaglecrest punt ended with Gabe Walker falling on the ball in the end zone.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
AURORA’S OTHER WEEK 3 FOOTBALL MATCHUPS
Friday: Regis Jesuit vs. Legend, primer
Friday: Overland vs. Eaglecrest, primer
Thursday: Grandview vs. Cherry Creek, recap