AURORA | A capsule look at the 2019 Class 5A state football first round playoff matchup between No. 24 Fountain-Fort Carson and No. 9 Cherokee Trail:
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
NO. 24 FOUNTAIN-FORT CARSON (3-7) VS. NO. 9 CHEROKEE TRAIL (7-3)
7:30 p.m., Nov. 8 at Legacy Stadium
BREAKDOWN: Fountain-Fort Carson and Cherokee Trail square off in the Class 5A state playoffs for the second time, with the first coming back in 2011 when the Trojans topped the Cougars 31-21 in a first round contest. That is the only previous meeting between the teams. …Fountain-Fort Carson is in the postseason for a 14th straight season, but has lost in the first round in four consecutive trips with the last postseason win coming back in 2014. Cherokee Trail, meanwhile, is in the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons, but has only one win — a first round overtime victory over Poudre last season — since making back-to-back championship game and semifinal trips in 2012 and 2013.
FOUNTAIN-FORT CARSON (3-7): Coach Jake Novotny’s Trojans had a difficult schedule as seven of their 10 opponents qualified for the 5A state playoffs. They lost five straight games after a win in the season opener, then won twice before closing the regular season with two losses. …Fountain-Fort Carson has had to go with several quarterbacks on the season and the three players with more than one passing attempt have accounted for 1,000 yards total and eight touchdowns against nine interceptions. Sophomore RB Dezmen Oliver has rushed for 936 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead the way. Defensively, Fountain-Fort Carson has allowed an average of 30-plus points per game.
CHEROKEE TRAIL (7-3): Coach Joe Johnson’s Cougars ride high into the playoffs after a come-from-behind 36-32 win over Eaglecrest to end the regular season. Cherokee Trail won three of its last four games, which included victories over three playoff teams in No. 7 Grandview, No. 10 Eaglecrest and No. 22 Overland. …Cherokee Trail has generated an average of 21 points per game and scored at least 26 in its last three wins. The Cougars have used three different quarterbacks during the season, but junior QB Jayden Lavigne seems to finding a groove, especially after a four-touchdown performance in the season finale, including three to junior TE Sam Hart and the eventual game-winner to senior WR/RB Torrey Sanders. Lavigne also threw two touchdown passes in the win over nemesis Grandview. Sanders is a game-breaking target, Hart is a huge presence with great hands and run-after-the-catch ability and senior WR Donovan Swift is among other options in the passing game the Cougars. Senior RB Julian Williams has come on of late — especially after hard-nosed senior Matty Bartels suffered a broken arm — and sophomore RB Nate Gaye has also had some impact games in the backfield. Senior OL George Giannou is one of the keys of a blue collar offensive line…Defensively, Cherokee Trail has allowed 18.3 points per game and limit most opposition. Williams is a tone-setter on defense as well with a team-leading eight sacks and nearly 100 tackles, while senior DL/LB Austin Jandik helps get push up front, as does Hart. The defensive backfield is full of players such as Swift and senior DB Caleb Huff who are willing to come up and make hits. …On special teams, junior PK Jordan Fischbach hasn’t been called on often, but he made his first three field goal attempts. Cherokee Trail’s bevy of skill players have been effective in the return game as well.
WINNER GETS: The Fountain-Fort Carson-Cherokee Trail winner advances in Quadrant 1 of the 5A bracket and moves into a second round contest against eighth-seeded Fairview (9-1), one of eight teams in the 24-team field to receive first round byes.