AURORA | A capsule look at the 2019 Class 4A state football first round playoff matchup between No. 14 Heritage and No. 3 Vista PEAK:
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
NO. 14 HERITAGE (7-3) VS. NO. 3 VISTA PEAK (10-0)
6:30 p.m., Nov. 15 at Aurora Public Schools Stadium
BREAKDOWN: Heritage and Vista PEAK meet for the first time ever, regular season or playoffs. …The Eagles have qualified for the postseason for the fifth time in the past six seasons as they have alternated between Classes 5A and 4A, missing playoffs only in 2017 in that span. Heritage lost in the first round of its two previous trips to the playoffs in 4A in 2016 and 2018.
HERITAGE (7-3): Coach Tyler Knoblock’s Eagles finished third in the 4A Metro League — which also includes Vista PEAK’s district rivals Gateway and Aurora Central — behind No. 4 seed Montrose and No. 9 Ponderosa. Heritage had a three-game winning streak snapped with a seven-point loss to the Mustangs in its regular season finale. …The Eagles have been a prolific offensive team in 2019 as they rank third in 4A in total points with 408 scored in 10 games, which includes five games with 42 points or more scored. Heritage has achieved offensive balance with 2,087 yards gained through the air and 2,070 on the ground. Senior QB Conner Cummiskey has thrown for 1,908 yards and 19 touchdowns against nine interceptions, while he’s also one of seven Eagles rushers with at least 114 yards rushing on the season as he’s gained 321 plus six touchdowns. Junior RB Doug Moore has picked up a team-best 559 yards on the ground, followed by senior RB Grayson Gallardo, who has 463 to go with a team-best seven touchdowns. Junior WR/TE Terrance Ferguson paces the Eagles in receiving with 760 yards and nine touchdowns, while junior TE Erik Olsen has 486 yards and six scores. Defensively, Heritage has allowed 17.1 points per game and held half of its opponents in single digits. Senior LB Noah Freng has racked up 101 tackles, with senior LB Micah Halfer next with 91 (plus a team-high eight sacks) and senior LB Blake Hannum with 80.
VISTA PEAK (10-0): Coach John Sullivan’s Bison finally broke through for a postseason berth and did so with the Pioneer League championship to boot. Vista PEAK enters the playoffs on a 10-game winning streak after posting a 35-21 road victory at Fruita Monument to close out the regular season. …The Bison finished the regular season as the highest-scoring team in 4A with 448 points, a full 24 more than Pine Creek. Vista PEAK has punished teams with its ground game this season, racking up a whopping 3,465 yards on the ground with four rushers boasting 484 yards or more. Junior RB Ja’derris Carr-Kersh has been the biggest home run hitter of the group, which he leads in yards (1,425) and touchdowns (23), while he’s caught four more to put him near the top of the state in touchdowns. Punishing senior RB Gene Sledge Jr. has racked up 628 yards and six touchdowns, while junior RB Montral Hamrick and junior QB Victor Owens each have scored nine rushing touchdowns, with Hamrick accruing 601 yards on the ground and Owens 484 to go with 996 yards through the air and 10 touchdown passes. Carr-Kersh is also his team’s leading receiver with 486 yards in the air, while six other players have caught at least one touchdown pass and Hamrick has three out of the backfield. …Defensively, Vista PEAK is giving up 15.4 points per game with three games in which it has given up single digit points. Senior LB Zackery Whitworth leads the team in tackles with 59, while Owens is a key presence as an LB and junior DL Braylen Nelson — the team’s most imposing physical player at 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, has made 32 stops. Nelson, Whitworth, Owens and junior DE Donovan Jarmon all have 4.0 sacks to their credit on the season, while Whitworth leads the team with four of its 14 interceptions.
WINNER GETS: The Heritage-Vista PEAK winner advances to the second round to face the winner of the first round game between No. 6 Dakota Ridge and No. 11 Fruita Monument.