AURORA | With the Wagon Wheel safely secured, the Smoky Hill football team is now focused on a strong finish to the fall football season.
Coach Tom Thenell’s Buffaloes got back on the winning track with a 49-39 Week 5 victory over rival Overland to earn a third straight season of custody of the Wagon Wheel traveling trophy and can finish the pandemic-shortened regular season at .500 with a win over Arapahoe Thursday at 7 p.m. at Littleton Public Schools Stadium.
Smoky Hill’s chances of making the Class 5A state playoffs for a third straight season are very long as it sits No. 17 in CHSAA’s postseason seeding formula going into the final week of play. The 5A playoff field dropped from 16 teams to eight this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Buffaloes (2-3 overall, 1-3 in Centennial League) — averaging 30.4 points per game — feature one of the top-10 offenses in the classification, keyed by senior quarterback Leslie Richardson III. Richardson III, who is coming off his second game of the season with six touchdown passes and also rushed for one, leads 5A in passing yards and touchdown passes (19) going into the final week of the regular season.
Smoky Hill’s aerial attack includes the top three receivers in yardage in seniors Davien Norman and Alec Pinkowski and junior Anthony Harris Jr., who have accounted for all 19 touchdown catches from Richardson III. Norman had a massive Week 5 contest with 165 yards receiving to vault into the 5A lead.
Arapahoe (2-3, 1-3) has dropped two straight contests coming into the game, both to undefeated teams, as it fell to Eaglecrest in Week 4 (23-13) and Cherry Creek (49-7) in Week 5.
Coach Rod Sherman’s Warriors have averaged 17.2 points per game while finding more success through the air (932 yards) vs. the ground (694 yards), led by junior quarterback Cole Hansen. Senior AJ Scheckenbach is Arapahoe’s leading receiver with 325 yards.
Aurora’s other five programs in action this fall are spread out among four other Week 6 games.
On Friday, Cherokee Trail and Overland meet at Stutler Bowl at 7 p.m., the same time Grandview and Horizon — a quarantine replacement — kick off at Legacy Stadium, while Saturday sees undefeated Eaglecrest play host to undefeated Cherry Creek at 1 p.m. at Legacy Stadium and 4-1 Regis Jesuit travel to Colorado Springs for a 6 p.m. game with Pine Creek in South League play.
State playoff brackets are due out on Sunday.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports