Football: Capsule look at Rangeview vs. Regis Jesuit

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CLASS 5A STATE FOOTBALL 1ST ROUND MATCHUP

RANGEVIEW
RANGEVIEW
Regis Jesuit
REGIS JESUIT

REGION A: NO. 7 RANGEVIEW (4-5) VS. NO. 2 REGIS JESUIT (7-2)

7 p.m., Nov. 6 at Lou Kellogg Stadium

BREAKDOWN: Rangeview and Regis Jesuit meet on the field for the first time since the opener of the 2013 regular season — a 27-0 Regis Jesuit victory — in a game in which neither team’s current head coach (Rangeview’s Justin Hoffman or Regis Jesuit’s Danny Filleman) were involved. The teams used to play regularly when they were both part of the Continental League, but went their separate ways after the 2007 season. The teams split the four previous meetings in league play (Regis Jesuit won in 2004 and 2005 and Rangeview won in 2006 and 2007) and Regis Jesuit has won both subsequent non-league meetings (in 2012 and 2013) to give it a 6-2 advantage in the series in the past decade…RANGEVIEW: In the first season under Hoffman — who succeeded Dave Gonzales, who was let go following last season — Rangeview extended its streak of qualifying for the 5A playoffs to 10 straight seasons. The issue has been winning in the postseason, however, as the program has just one first round victory (2010) in that span…Rangeview enters the postseason on a two-game losing streak after letting an 18-7 lead slip in a 19-18 loss to Heritage on Oct. 30, which followed a 14-7 loss to undefeated Arapahoe, which put the Raiders in the No. 26 spot in the final 5A Wild Card standings…Offensively, Rangeview has started to find the right balance of run and pass that Hoffman would like and although the point totals haven’t been massive in recent weeks, the Raiders have moved the football consistently. Hard-running junior RB AJ Thomas has been a tone setter for the Rangeview offense and has benefitted from the holes created by a veteran offensive line to piled up 1,049 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground with an average of 6.6 yards per carry. Junior RB Deron Solomon can pick up some tough inside yards and sophomore QB Jaelin Odegard is also effective on the ground with a number of zone read type plays. When the Raiders go to the air, senior WRs DeVante’ Wheaten and Elijah Reed both can make big plays at any time. Reed can go up and come down with just about any high ball, while Wheaten — who is also a difference maker as a return man — has the speed and elusiveness to make even short catches dangerous…Rangeview has a lot of two-way players, with Thomas — who has a team-high 74 tackles as an LB — Wheaten (team-high 5 interceptions as a DB) and Reed (58 tackles at S) also playing big roles on a solid defensive unit along with senior OL/DL George Marpaung. Senior DL Will Fifita not only leads the team with nine sacks — plus seven tackles per game — but has also blocked a number of kicks to help the Raiders on special teams. Hoffman is confident in his special teams going into the playoffs, though the kicking game has struggled recently…REGIS JESUIT: Filleman arrived from Arizona and took over the Regis Jesuit program from Mark Nolan, who departed for a job in Arizona after six seasons. The program moved on seemingly without a hitch as it won the Continental League North title again and qualified for the 5A state playoffs for a ninth straight campaign and 15th time in the past 16 seasons. The Raiders have won at least their playoff opener in five of the past six seasons…Regis Jesuit won its last two games of the regular season in impressive fashion, downing Mountain Vista and Fruita Monument by a combined score of 66-7 and finished No. 7 among 32 teams in the final 5A Wild Card standings…Defense has been Regis Jesuit’s calling card all season long as the stout unit has allowed 17 points or less in all nine of its games thus far. At the point of attack, senior DL Ace Escobedo — a Penn commitment — gets good penetration and has picked up four sacks, while junior DE Caleb Sloan has come from the outside to rack up a team-best nine sacks. The LB corps of senior Drew Schlegel and juniors Will Kulick and Alec Hamilton take advantage of the Raiders’ push up front to rack up tackles in bunches, as each has made more than 70 stops on the season, while Schlegel’s uncanny ability to block punts has been an added facet this season. A ballhawking group has come away with 15 interceptions, led by senior DB Wil Lowery with six and senior DB Davis McDonald with three…Offensively, senior QB Michael Pavlakovich has gotten steady better at running a new system brought in by Filleman that allows him to attack with his arm and his legs. Pavlakovich is second on the team in rushing with 435 yards and seven touchdowns, trailing only hard-nosed senior RB Alec Barnes (569 yards, 9 TDs), while he’s also thrown for 1,198 yards and 11 touchdowns against just two interceptions. Four Regis Jesuit pass catchers have more at least 269 yards and three touchdowns on the season, led by junior WR Quentin Birch (387 yards, 4 scores). Birch has missed time with an injury and junior WR Jack Wiegand (314 yards, 3 TDs) is overcoming illness, but should be back to join Nebraska-bound senior TE Jack Stoll (292 yards, 3 TDs) and senior WR Ryan Cornell (269 yards, 3 TDs) as a diverse group of weapons…WINNER: The Rangeview-Regis Jesuit winner advances in the Region A bracket to the second round — scheduled to be played between Nov. 12-14 — where it will face off against No. 3 Legacy, a 38-14 winner over No. 6 Boulder on Nov. 5. Neither Rangeview nor Regis Jesuit has faced either team this season but whichever Aurora team wins will have a home game in the second round according to CHSAA coin flips.

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