HIGHLANDS RANCH | Quickly, the Cherokee Trail football team found itself in a tough position it never could escape Thursday night against Valor Christian.
The second-seeded Eagles — playing without star running back Gavin Sawchuk, the Class 5A running leader — received the opening kickoff and rolled down the field on an uptempo 63-yard touchdown drive that left the seventh-seeded Cougars reeling and set the tone for a 49-14 5A state quarterfinal playoff victory.
Cherokee Trail had trouble slowing the Eagles offense, which generated more than 400 yards of total offense and rushed for six of its touchdowns (with a punt return score to boot) to move to 4-0 all-time against the Cougars in the postseason.
Valor Christian — which got four-touchdown game from junior Zachary Wiley — moves into the 5A semifinals, where it will face the winner of Saturday’s game between No. 6 Fairview and No. 3 Legend.
Coach Joe Johnson’s Cherokee Trail had its four-game winning streak snapped and finished the pandemic-shortened season 4-3 overall.
Senior quarterback Jayden Lavigne connected with junior wide receiver Kaelen Bing on a 52-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to give the Cougars some life, only to see the Eagles counter in just a minute.
Valor Christian invoked the running clock 40-point mercy rule late in the third quarter and the final points of the game went the Cougars on a short touchdown plunge by junior Ciaran Hyslop.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]o.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
(2) VALOR CHRISTIAN 49, (7) CHEROKEE TRAIL 14
Score by quarters:
Cherokee Trail 0 7 0 7 — 14
Valor Christian 14 21 14 0 — 49