AURORA | A capsule look at the 2019 Class 5A state football first round playoff matchup between No. 22 Overland and No. 11 Smoky Hill:
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
NO. 22 OVERLAND (3-7) VS. NO. 11 SMOKY HILL (10-0)
7 p.m., Nov. 8 at Stutler Bowl
BREAKDOWN: Overland and Smoky Hill own one of the longest-standing rivalries among Aurora schools and will meet for the 39th time. The Trailblazers have won 26 of the previous 38 meetings, but the Buffaloes have had the best of the series recently with wins in both the 2018 and 2019 regular seasons. Smoky Hill claimed the Wagon Wheel traveling trophy — which debuted in the rivalry in 2015 — with a 48-26 victory Aug. 29. …Smoky Hill makes a second straight trip to the Class 5A state playoffs after breaking a drought that stretched back to 2008. The Buffaloes have lost in the first round in their last two postseason trips. Overland is back in the postseason for the first time since 2015 when it lost to Columbine in the first round. The program made four trips to the playoffs from 2012-15.
OVERLAND (3-7): The Trailblazers won three straight games to finish non-league play 3-2 under new head coach DaVaughn Thornton Sr., then encountered the rugged Metro East conference (in which all five teams made the 5A playoffs) and finished 0-5. Overland is one of seven teams with sub.-500 records in the 24-team playoff field. …In the first meeting with Smoky Hill, the Trailblazers got two touchdown passes from senior QB Mark Thrower (one to senior WR Jawan Lacour and the other to freshman WR Ismael Cisse), while junior RB Jaheim Roper returned a kickoff return for a touchdown and set up another score with an interception. Senior DB Camwrin Harris had two of Overland’s three interceptions in the game. …Thrower has an outstanding season in his first full year as the starting quarterback, as he has thrown for just shy of 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns (against 10 interceptions). Lacour has averaged 21.3 yards per catch and has 617 yards and at least three touchdowns, while Cisse has snared passes worth 439 yards, while Roper has 370 yards and safety blanket, junior TE Kamari Brown, has 348 yards. Roper is the team’s leading rusher with 462 yards, just had ahead of senior RB Stephone Smiley (419). …Defensively, Harris has picked off eight passes, Roper three and Lacour two as Overland has given many opposing quarterbacks a lot to think about when they put the ball in the air. Senior LB Kamare Hampton is the team’s leading tackler, just ahead of Smiley and Roper, while senior DE Jaiden Cunningham paces the Trailblazers in sacks. …Overland has dangerous special teams that includes a return game keyed by Lacour, who had a two-touchdown return game earlier in the season against Aurora Central.
SMOKY HILL (10-0): The Buffaloes have played to perfection over the last two regular seasons with a 20-0 mark that includes consecutive nine-win performances in winning the Metro 10 conference and non-league wins against Overland. Coach Tom Thenell — who picked up career win No. 200 during the season — guides a team that is one of four still without a loss in the 24-team playoff field (along with No. 1 Cherry Creek, No. 2 Ralston Valley and No. 4 Regis Jesuit). …In the first meeting with Overland, Smoky Hill exploded for 34 points in the second half, which included three of senior RB Obie Sanni’s five touchdown runs. Junior QB Leslie Richardson III threw two touchdowns passes to junior WR Alec Pinkowski. …For the season, Smoky Hill had the highest-scoring offense in 5A with 408 points scored. The Buffaloes have thrown the ball more than last season and Richardson has thrown for 2,461 yards and 25 touchdowns (against eight interceptions). Senior TE Ryan Hollingsworth has had a breakout season with 39 catches for 902 yards and nine touchdowns, senior WR Kaleb Starling has 445 yards receiving and five scores and senior WR Sean Guzman had 247 yards receiving and a touchdown as well (Pinkowski hasn’t played the last four games, but had 401 yards receiving in six games). Sanni has been outstanding again and though his yardage total is down from last season (1,319 yards vs. 2000 last year), he’s scored at least one rushing touchdown in every game and has 24 for the season. …Smoky Hill allowed the ninth-fewest points among 5A teams (150 total in 10 games). Senior LB Vincent King has a team-best 85 tackles, while sophomore LB Max Zueger and senior LB Chase Lyons have 66 and 62 stops, respectively. Senior DB Matthew Lash, junior DB Kamari Lewis-Stallworth and King have multiple interceptions and the Buffaloes have forced 26 turnovers in 10 games. The Buffaloes also feature the double-digit sack duo of senior DE K’hari Upshaw (15.0) and senior LB Travon Holmes (11.0).
WINNER GETS: The Overland-Smoky Hill winner moves on in Quadrant 4 of the 5A bracket into a second round matchup with No. 6 Columbine (8-2), one of eight teams that had byes in the first round. Neither team played the Rebels this season.