HIGHLANDS RANCH | When it comes to big wins the whole state of Colorado can appreciate, few do it better than coach John Schultz and his Grandview football team.
Schultz’s Wolves ended then-powerhouse Mullen’s 34-game winning streak in 2011 and on Nov. 17 it became the one to strike a blow for the state by knocking Valor Christian off its lofty perch.
With its defense and running game in full playoff mode, eighth-seeded Grandview overcame a slow start to record a 28-16 Class 5A state quarterfinal victory over the top-seeded, previously unbeaten and defending 5A state champion Eagles, who won’t appear in a state final for the first time since 2008.
The Wolves became the first Colorado team to beat Valor Christian three times (moving to 3-4 all-time in the series between the teams) and moved into the 5A semifinals, where they will face fourth-seeded Pomona. The Panthers (10-2) — who suffered one of their two losses to Valor Christian during the regular season — topped No. 5 Fairview 48-31.
“We came in here to shock the world and nobody believed in us except us,” Grandview senior quarterback Kyle Smith said. “We came in, believed in each other and got it done…It feels great, I don’t have words to describe it.”
Added Schultz, whose team also snapped Valor Christian’s 22-game winning streak that dated back to a Sept. 23, 2016 loss to Pomona: “This is our first win here, so that is a great accomplishment. It’s tough to play here, you really feel uncomfortable, but we finally got it done.”
To earn its sixth all-time trip to the 5A semifinals — and first since 2014 — Grandview had to climb out of an early 10-point deficit that often spells doom for any opponent against Valor Christian.
As pelting rain turned into snow, the Wolves began to dig themselves out as junior Jordan Billingsley and the ground game took effect.
Coming off a 200-yard, four-touchdown performance in a decisive 42-0 first round win over Lakewood, Billingsley began to find the holes cleared by his hard-working offensive line.
Two long Billingsley runs in the second quarter set up rushing scores for seniors Gunner Gentry and Prentice Wilson for a 14-10 Grandview lead at halftime.
“We were able to hang up front and be more physical, which is something we haven’t been able to do the last couple of times we’ve played them,” Schultz said.
“They’ve dominated us up front in the past. This time, we were able to get blocks and open holes and Jordan made them pay.”
The Wolves began to roll in the third quarter and made a big play when senior Julius Carter Jr. swallowed up Valor Christian’s punter at the Eagles 10-yard line following a bad snap.
Two plays later, Grandview extended its lead to double-digits when Smith hit junior tight end Dayne Prim for a 2-yard touchdown off a play action fake.
It was the third touchdown of the season for Prim, a basketball standout, on just seven catches.
“I knew it was going to work,” Prim said. “I had to make it happen and I made it happen.”
Frustration began to mount on the Valor Christian side, as a 15-yard personal foul call extended a Grandview drive that result in yet another touchdown, a 25-yard burst through the right side of the line that put the Wolves in full control.
After giving up 10 early points, the Grandview defense held the Eagles’ offense down, as they scored a season-low 16 points.
It was the polar opposite of the 2016 season for the Wolves, who surrendered 66 points to Valor Christian on the same field.
“This feels so good after we lost to them here last year,” Carter said. “We believe in ourselves, we trust the guy next to us is going to do his job and we came in and got the ‘W.’”
Next up is a Pomona team that has made it to the last two 5A state championship games — losing to Valor Christian both times — and knocked Grandview out of the playoffs in the 2015 quarterfinals.
“The team that gets better each week in practice is the team that keeps going,” Schultz said. “Pomona is a big challenge, but we’ll just try to get better.”
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
(8) GRANDVIEW 28, (1) VALOR CHRISTIAN 16
Score by quarters:
Grandview 0 14 7 7 — 28
Valor Chr. 7 3 0 6 — 16
Valor Christian — Josiah Davis 14 yard run (Brian Brogan kick)
Valor Christian — Brogan 22 yard field goal
Grandview — Gunner Gentry 12 yard run (Cobi Wood kick)
Grandview — Prentice Wilson 7 yard run (Wood kick)
Grandview — Dayne Prim 2 yard pass from Kyle Smith (Wood kick)
Grandview — Jordan Billingsley 25 yard run (Wood kick)
Valor Christian — Hunter Carlson 1 yard run (run failed)
Grandview: Jordan Billingsley 20-202, Kyle Smith 7-45, Gunner Gentry 1-12, Prentice Wilson 1-7, Aaron Harris 9-7
Valor Christian: Joshia Davis 20-70, Blake Stenstrom 6-31, Luke McCaffrey 7-7, Easton Cecil 3-5, Jadin Watson 2-3, Hunter Carlson 1-1
Grandview: Smith 1-3, 1 touchdown
Valor Christian: Stenstrom 7-13, 77 yards; McCaffrey 2-4, 22 yards
Grandview: Dayne Prim 1-2
Valor Christian: McCaffrey 3-29, Ryan Thibault 2-28, Davis 2-27, Ben Anderson 1-10, Kaiden Keefe 1-5