Cherokee Trail


Nov. 15, 7 p.m., Stutler Bowl

BREAKDOWN: Centennial League rivals Cherokee Trail and Cherry Creek meet for the second time this season, with the league champion Bruins owning a 28-27 victory over the Cougars on Oct. 4. Cherry Creek has a two-game winning streak in the all-time series between the teams, which is tied at 3-3, as Cherokee Trail won three straight in 2009, 2010 and 2011, while the Bruins won in 2008 and also last season. The teams have never met in the playoffs. …Coach Monte Thelen’s Cherokee Trail program has made the playoffs in all 10 of its varsity seasons and aims to make the semifinals for the fourth time in that span (2007 in 4A, 2010 and 2012 in 5A) as well as keeping alive the chance for a second straight appearance in the 5A state championship game after a 9-0 loss to Valor Christian in last season’s final at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. …Coach Dave Logan is now 3-1 in his two postseasons with Cherry Creek, as the Bruins lost in the second round of last season’s playoffs, but stand 2-0 this season. As a program, Cherry Creek is in the quarterfinal round for the first time since 2008 when it lost to Mullen in the 5A state championship game. …CHEROKEE TRAIL: The sixth-seeded Cougars appear in the 5A quarterfinals for the third in the past four seasons by virtue of a 41-7 rout of No. 10 Mountain Range on Nov. 8 at Legacy Stadium. Senior QB Aric Johnson rushed for a pair of touchdowns and also threw TD passes to junior WR Izaiah Lottie and senior WR Evan White. Junior RB Cameron Smith gained 163 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and keyed a 330-yard rushing attack. The Cherokee Trail defense came within a minute of posting its fifth shutout of the season, but Mountain Range spoiled it with a touchdown in the closing seconds. …Determined not to overthink, Johnson took care of the ball with just one turnover against the Mustangs while he threw his fourth and fifth touchdown passes of the postseason. He has thrown for a total of 1,655 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season against six interceptions, picking up another 392 rushing. Smith has 296 yards and four touchdowns rushing in just two postseason games, which ups his season totals to 1,382 yards and 20 touchdowns. Junior WR Jason Thompson leads Cherokee Trail in receiving with 29 catches for 543 yards and 5 touchdowns, followed closely by Lottie, who has 440 yards receiving and 8 TDs. Six Cougars have more than 100 yards receiving on the season. …Defensively, Cherokee Trail has given up just 10.6 points per game and have held three of its last five opponents to seven points or less. Senior S White — a University of Colorado commitment — continues to be a playmaker for the Cougars, while senior LB Cameron Currington has a knack for big plays and LB Mar’Keith Bailey and LB Kaleb Barnum help Cherokee Trail excel in the middle of the field. White and Lottie had interceptions in the first game against Cherry Creek, while senior DL Jacob Martin and senior DL Derek Torrance each recorded a fumble recovery. …Johnson has taken over all punting and placekicking duties since the loss to Cherry Creek, which ended when PK Jerdan Daniels — a converted soccer player — pushed the tying extra point wide left with 12 seconds remaining. Johnson is 15-of-19 on extra point tries, but has not attempted a field goal. …CHERRY CREEK: The normally run-heavy Bruins switched it up on 19th-seeded Overland in the second round, as senior QB Cameron Brucker threw four touchdown passes in the first half to put Cherry Creek in command on its way to a 49-14 victory. Two of Brucker’s TD passes went to senior TE Mikey McCauley, while the others went to junior WR Tyus Carter and junior WR Joseph Parker IV. The Bruins still had success on the ground, rushing for a total of 281 yards and three scores, with senior RB Nathan Starks going for 116 yards and two TDs and junior RB Milo Hall picking up 145 and a score. The Cherry Creek defense allowed just one touchdown, as Overland’s other score came defensively. …A difference in the rematch with Cherokee Trail is the presence of Starks, who missed the first game as he awaited eligibility after moving to Colorado from Las Vegas. Starks has carried the ball just 43 times in five games, but has 378 yards and 8 TDs, complimenting Hall (1,271 yards, 13 TDs) and junior RB D.J. Luke (528 yards, 7 TDs). Brucker has 1,623 yards passing and 16 touchdowns against just three interceptions and has helped six players rack up double-digit receptions thus far for the Bruins. McCauley has 32 grabs for 445 yards and 6 TDs. …Defensively, Cherry Creek has allowed opponents to score in double figures in three straight games, including a 34-point output by Eaglecrest in the regular season finale. Freshman LB Santino Marchiol and senior LB Matt Rindal make the most stops on a Cherry Creek defense and senior LB Stanford Cooper leads the way with 8.0 sacks, including 2.0 in the victory against Overland. …WINNER GETS: The Cherokee Trail/Cherry Creek winner advances to the 5A semifinals, where it will face either No. 2 Valor Christian or No. 7 Columbine. None of the teams have played each other this season.

Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or sports@aurorasentinel.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel.

Courtney Oakes is sports Editor and photographer with Sentinel Colorado. A Denver East High School alum. He came to the Sentinel in 2001 and since then has received a number of professional awards from...