AURORA | A capsule look at the 2019 Class 5A state football quarterfinal playoff matchup between No. 10 Eaglecrest and No. 2 Ralston Valley.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
NO. 10 EAGLECREST (9-3) VS. NO. 2 RALSTON VALLEY (11-0)
7 p.m. Nov. 22 at North Area Athletic Complex
Breakdown: Eaglecrest and Ralston Valley played for the first time ever in the 2014 Class 5A state playoffs and the meetings have become fairly regular since that point, as the teams shared the same conference (Mount Wilson) in 2016-17 before realignment separated them into the Metro East (Eaglecrest) and Metro West (Ralston Valley) for the past two seasons. The all-time series stands at 2-2 with the Mustangs’ 2014 postseason win and victory in the 2015 season opener, while the Raptors took both league meetings in 2016 and 2017. Three of the four games have been decided by six points or less. …In the 2014 playoff meeting, Eaglecrest had a lead into the final seconds until Collin Root drilled a 56-yard field goal that lifted Ralston Valley to a 44-43 victory.
EAGLECREST (9-3): Coach Shawn Marsh’s Raptors finished fourth in the rugged Metro East conference that saw all six teams qualify for the 5A playoffs (No. 1 Cherry Creek — which is also in the quarterfinals — No. 7 Grandview, No. 9 Cherokee Trail, No. 15 Arapahoe and No. 22 Overland). Eaglecrest is the only team in the final eight that did not have a first round bye as a top-eight seed, so it has two postseason victories under its belt against No. 23 Legacy (34-31) and No. 7 Grandview (28-21 in OT). Senior RB David Creal’s short touchdown run late in the third quarter put the Raptors up for good against the Lightning, while an overtime touchdown pass from senior QB Max Marsh to senior WR Jalen Stewart stood up as the winning points against the Wolves as Eaglecrest avenged a three-point regular season loss. …Marsh, who didn’t win a playoff game in his time at Grand Junction Central before arriving at Eaglecrest this season when his dad was hired as head coach, has thrown for five touchdowns and three interceptions in two postseason starts and has thrown for more than 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns for the season. He added a rushing touchdown against Grandview, his ninth of the year. Creal scored twice in the Legacy game and is the team’s leading rusher for the season with help from a line featuring University of Michigan recruit in senior OL Reece Atteberry, junior WR Ty Robinson is the Raptors’ receiving leader in terms of yardage, while Stewart has a team-high seven TD catches. Senior WRs Mikelle Nash and Eli Hurd have double-digit catches in addition to Robinson and Stewart (who has TD grabs in each of the playoff games) and junior DB/WR Langston Williams has made things happen with just a handful of catches, including an 80-yard touchdown reception against Legacy…Defensively, Eaglecrest has allowed 23.5 points per game for the season — 26.5 in the playoffs — but has made big plays in key situations in two close ballgames. Atteberry has helped shore up the defensive line along with junior DL Devin Sepulveda, junior LB Adrian Cordova has come through with a variety of sacks and big plays and junior DB Seyi Oladipo Williams and Robinson (who had a uber-athletic interception in the fourth quarter against Grandview) give the Raptors a defensive backfield capable of keeping up with high-powered passing offenses.
RALSTON VALLEY (11-0): Coach Matt Loyd’s Mustangs won the championship of the Metro West conference, which sent five of its six teams to the 5A playoffs (No. 5 Pomona and No. 6 Columbine, which remain alive in the quarterfinals, plus No. 14 Mullen and No. 17 Lakewood). Ralston Valley — which has made the playoffs for at least the past 16 seasons and is in the quarterfinals for the second season in a row — has won 15 of its last 15 games dating back to last season. The Mustangs are one of three remaining undefeated teams in the 5A playoffs along with No. 1 Cherry Creek and No. 4 Regis Jesuit and was one of eight teams with a first round bye. …Ralston Valley is tied with Columbine for the second-most points scored on the season in the 5A classification with 448, well within reach of the 270 put up by leader and 11th-seeded Smoky Hill, which exited the postseason in the second round. The Mustangs amassed more than 500 yards of total offense in their 42-21 second-round win over No. 15 Arapahoe as seniors QB Walker Brickle threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another score, while senior RB Chase Williams piled up 194 yards rushing and scored on the ground as well. For the season, Brickle has thrown for 2,490 yards and 30 touchdowns against just five interceptions with six players with double-digit receptions and seven with at least one touchdown catch at his disposal. Senior WR Caleb Rillos caught his team-high 11 touchdowns pass in the playoff win over Arapahoe and has 690 yards receiving, while senior WR JJ Galbreath has 542 to go with nine touchdowns. Four other receivers have at least 14 catches and have combined for 10 scoring catches. On the ground, Wilson (744 yards, 12 touchdowns) and junior RB Tyler Roybal (374 yards, 8 touchdowns) lead the way, with Brickle also an occasional threat. …Defensively, the Mustangs have yielded just 114 points in 11 games, with only No. 1 Cherry Creek (92 in 11 games) and non-playoff qualifier Prairie View (84 in 10 games) allowing fewer. Ralston Valley forced three turnovers in the win over Arapahoe and have 31 takeaways on the season. Senior DE/LB Braden Siders leads the Mustangs in both tackles (81) and sacks (14.0), while junior LB Will Lester has racked up 72 stops and senior FB Kaleb Tischler has 54 tackles to go with a team-best three interceptions.
WINNER GETS: The Eaglecrest-Ralston Valley winner advances to the 5A semifinals, where it will play the winner of the matchup between No. 3 Valor Christian and No. 6 Columbine for the right to play in the state championship game Dec. 7 at Empower Field at Mile High.