Football: Capsule look at Hinkley vs. Columbine




NO. 26 HINKLEY (5-4) VS. NO. 7 COLUMBINE (8-1)


Nov. 1, 4 p.m., Jefferson County Stadium

BREAKDOWN: Hinkley of the Aurora League and Super 6 League champion Columbine meet for the first time in at least a decade. …First-year head coach Jaron Cohen — who came to Hinkley from Class 4A Liberty in Colorado Springs — helped the program snap a five-year playoff drought which stretches back to 2008, when the Thunderbirds lost a 59-0 decision to Rocky Mountain in the first round of the 5A playoffs. Hinkley’s last playoff victory is much longer ago than that, however, as its been at least 15 years since the program has tasted a postseason win. Conversely, Columbine is a playoff regular and not far removed from a state championship, as the Rebels won the 2011 5A title with a victory over Lakewood. The Rebels also won state crowns in 2006, 2000 and 1999. Columbine lost to Pomona in the second round of last season’s 5A playoffs. …HINKLEY: Cohen’s arrival brought about a significant change for Hinkley, which went 5-4 in 2013 after back-to-back 2-8 campaigns in 2012 and 2011. Following a disappointing 28-12 loss to Gateway on Oct. 18, the Thunderbirds bounced back to end the regular season with a 53-6 rout of district rival Aurora Central on Oct. 25. Senior QB Austin Ruiz and senior WR Chance Drake did the major damage for Hinkley, as the pair connected for 5 touchdown passes in the victory. …Statistically, the Thunderbirds improved tremendously on both sides of the football this season as they scored 251 points and allowed 192, a stark contrast to 2012, when opponents outscored them 494-140. Ruiz has been a dual threat under center for Hinkley, as he’s thrown for nearly 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns against just 4 interceptions, while adding more than 250 yards and 3 scores rushing as well. Drake had to play QB by necessity for much of last season, but the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder has been a big mismatch this season at WR, racking up nearly 500 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. Junior RB Dante Richardson has nearly 400 yards rushing and 300 receiving, while senior RB Brandon Compton is around the 400 yard mark rushing as well, while his brother, WR Bryson Compton, has snared 5 touchdown catches. …Defensively, the Thunderbirds haven’t given up much in their last five games, holding Adams City to 2 points, Denver East to 9 and Aurora Central to 6 in victories. …COLUMBINE: The Rebels finished the season with four straight wins after suffering their only defeat of the year, a 49-28 loss to Arapahoe on Sept. 26, capped by a 31-21 victory over Bear Creek on Oct. 24. Coach Andy Lowry‘s group has cranked up its offense of late, with two 50-point efforts in its past four games, which is much of the reason Columbine has outscored its opponents 332-203 on the season. …True to its character in the recent past, the Rebels like to run, run and run some more as five players have rushed for 150 yards or more on the season. Chief among Columbine’s ballcarriers is senior RB Bernard McDondle, who has rushed for 1,480 yards on 144 carries (an average of 10.28 per carry) along with 24 touchdowns, while senior RB Jeremy Aparicio has racked up 741 rushing yards and 7 scores on the ground. With the rushing success, junior QB Michael Tait has attempted just 52 passes on the season, completing 33 of them for 573 yards and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions. Junior WR Austin Norton has 10 catches for 311 yards and 2 touchdowns. …Defensively, senior LB Reid Harris has amassed 78 tackles to lead the Rebels, while senior DB Tanner Degutis is second with 62 stops. DT Garrett Hammers and DE Jacen White each have 5 sacks, while junior DB Emery Taylor has picked off 7 passes.

Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel.