2013 CLASS 5A STATE FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF MATCHUP
NO. 20 GRANDVIEW (5-4) vs. NO. 13 PRAIRIE VIEW (7-2)
Nov. 1, 7 p.m., Prairie View High School (Henderson)
BREAKDOWN: Grandview of the Centennial League and East Metro League champion Prairie View meet for the first time, playoffs or regular season. The ThunderHawks made their first-ever appearance in the postseason and go against one of the most successful playoff teams in the past decade in the Wolves, who qualified for the Class 5A playoffs for the ninth consecutive season. Coach John Schultz has never lost a first round playoff game and made it past the second round in all but two of those seasons. …GRANDVIEW: With a 5-4 regular season record, the Wolves enter the 5A playoffs with its lowest win total since 2009, when they were also 5-4 heading to the playoffs. Grandview suffered through a three-game losing streak in Centennial League play after a 4-1 start, but finished off the regular season with a 56-6 rout of Smoky Hill on Oct. 25. Junior RB Chukwuma Obinnah rushed for 142 yards and scored 2 touchdowns, while junior RB Ben Marshall also crossed the goal line twice. The Grandview defense forced a total of 6 turnovers in the victory. …Grandview experienced massive turnover on offense coming into the season, with only OL Gabe Cirivello returning from last season’s explosive unit. Senior QB Tyler Smith had an up-and-down regular season under center and finished with 729 yards passing and 8 touchdown passes against 6 interceptions. Smith, who has rushed for 5 TDs, trusts senior WR Isaiah Lang in the end zone — as he has scored 4 touchdowns — while senior WR Trent Richardson leads the team in catches with 19 and receiving yards with 302. The passing game takes a big back seat to the running game for Grandview, which has given 95 carries in just five games to Obinnah, who sat out the first 4 weeks after transferring from Regis Jesuit. Obinnah has 558 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns, 1 behind Marshall, who has the same number of rushing yards on 32 more attempts. …The Wolves have improved from last season defensively and allow just 17.3 points per contest this season. As usual, Grandview has aggressive linebackers and defensive back, as junior DB Cameron Knight is the team’s leading tackler with 56 (7 per game), while junior LBs Keelan Poole (team-high 4 fumble recoveries) and Hayden Porter top the team with 5 sacks each. Junior DB Kiefer Glau has been playmaker for the Wolves, as has 3 sacks and leads the team with 2 interceptions, while serving a strong special teams player as a punter and effective rusher on punt return. Senior LB Kolten Johnson is another defensive standout for Grandview with 50 tackles — including a team-best 8.5 tackles for a loss — and 4.5 sacks. …PRAIRIE VIEW: Coach Todd Ricio has his team on a 7-game winning streak after an 0-2 start, with the ThunderHawks’ latest conquest coming in a 55-14 rout of Thornton on Oct. 25. …Prairie View, which brought back 16 starters from last season, leads 5A teams with 409 points scored in 9 games — an average of 45.4 per game — which marks a significant increase on the 247 it totaled in 10 games last season. The ThunderHawks are one of very few teams across the state with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, as senior RB Cole Barone (1,295 yards) and junior RB R.J. Ramirez (1,145 yards) each have surpassed the milestone, while combining for 34 touchdowns (18 for Ramirez — who also excels in the kick return game — plus 16 for Barone). Sophomore QB Ben Meraz has rushed for 6 TDs of his own and only had to throw sparingly, with 21 completions and 7 TD passes against 3 interceptions. Junior WR Tavish Whelan is Prairie View’s only receiver over 100 yards, as he has 7 catches for 177 yards and 2 scores. …Defensively, DL Ben Burnett and LB/DB Alex Munoz each have racked up more than 60 tackles, while Burnett finds himself often in the opponents’ backfield with a team-high 8 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Junior DB Cory Orr leads the team with 4 interceptions, while senior DB Jered Kreutzer has 3 of his own.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel.