AURORA | A capsule preview of the 2023 Class 5A state football quarterfinal playoff contest between Chatfield and Grandview scheduled for Nov. 17, 2023:
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at email@example.com.Twitter/X: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2023 CLASS 5A QUARTERFINAL STATE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF GAME
No. 14 Chatfield (7-5) vs. No. 11 Grandview (8-4)
Nov. 17, 7 p.m. at Legacy Stadium
BREAKDOWN: Chatfield and Grandview meet for the first time ever in the postseason and may play for the first time on the football field. …Chatfield is in the 5A playoffs for a second year in a row since it moved up in classification after winning the state championship in 4A in 2021. It was the program’s second state title. …Grandview is in the quarterfinal round for the 14th time since 2007 and it has made it to the semifinals in eight of those trips, including three of the past five seasons, although it remains looking for its first state championship game appearance since 2007 when it won its first and only title.
CHATFIELD: Coach Kris Rosholt’s Chargers finished the regular season .500 after it had to forfeit its first three games — in which they won twice — then went on a five-game winning streak and then ended with two losses to highly-seeded opponents in No. 5 Ralston Valley (42-28) and No. 2 Columbine (35-14). Chatfield played nine in-state opponents and six made the postseason, including No. 1 Cherry Creek, No. 2 Columbine, No. 5 Ralston Valley, No. 19 Cherokee Trail and No. 21 Arvada West, while Dakota Ridge was seeded No. 7 in the 4A playoffs. Cherry Creek, Columbine, Ralston Valley and Dakota Ridge all remain alive. …Chatfield moved into the quarterfinals with consecutive wins over No. 19 Cherokee Trail (42-7, story, here) and No. 3 Arapahoe (28-21 in overtime) in the first two rounds. … Senior QB Jake Jones has had a huge postseason for the Chargers, as he has accounted for 486 yards of total offense (377 yards passing, 109 yards receiving) with four touchdown passes and four rushing touchdowns in the two victories. Jones is up to 2,742 total yards for the season, which includes 2,096 yards passing (with 20 touchdown passes to 11 interceptions) and a team-leading 646 yards rushing (plus 14 touchdowns). Senior RB Landon Mueller has rushed for a touchdown in each postseason game and is tied for rushing TDs (5) with junior RB Cory Bahl. Six different Chatfield receivers have 144 or more yards receiving and the group is led by senior WR Drew Rohlman, who has 656 yards and 13 touchdowns (including one scoring reception in both playoff games). Senior WR Micah Lumpkin is next with 437 yards receiving. …Defensively, junior LBs Logan Kundred and Caleb Espinosa have been tackling machines for a defense that has allowed an average of 17 points per game for the season, which is the second-most among the final eight teams. Espinosa has 32 postseason tackles and Kundred 30 plus an interception. Junior DL Cody Wittig and sophomore DE Nate Helms share the team lead in sacks with 4.0 apiece, while senior DB Neguse Shelp has five of the team’s 16 interceptions. …On special teams, junior PK Andrew Astone has successfully kicked 47 of 49 PAT attempts and made five field goals with a long of 37 yards. Shelp and senior ATH Dagan Myers each have kickoff return touchdown.
GRANDVIEW: Coach Tom Doherty’s Wolves were 6-2 to start the season, then dropped consecutive Centennial League contests to No. 19 Cherokee Trail (23-21) and No. 1 Cherry Creek (45-22) going into the postseason. Grandview’s 10 regular season foes included seven state playoff qualifiers, including No. 1 Cherry Creek,No. 3 Arapahoe, No. 5 Ralston Valley, No. 16 Eaglecrest, No. 19 Cherokee Trail and No. 24 Fossil Ridge along with Fruita Monument, the No. 13 seed in the 4A playoffs. Cherry Creek and Ralston Valley remain alive in the postseason. …The Wolves have picked up two close victories in the postseason, as they defeated No. 22 Douglas County 28-21 in the first round (see story, here), which was followed by a 25-23 road win at No. 6 Regis Jesuit in the second round. Senior QB Liam Szarka’s scrambling throw in the back of the end zone snared by junior RB Donavon Vernon gave the Wolves the winning points against the Raiders (see story, here). Szarka rushed for the other three touchdowns for Grandview and senior LB Nkongolo Wa-Kalonji had a massive defensive play when he forced a turnover on downs with a fourth down stop in the fourth quarter. …Szarka (an Air Force commitment) had three touchdowns against Douglas County (two passing, one rushing) to go with the four against Regis Jesuit that gives him a total of 39 for the season (25 passing vs. 6 interceptions, plus 14 rushing) in addition to 3,243 total yards (2,651 passing, team-leading 592 rushing). Junior WR Xay Neto has been absolutely crucial to Grandview’s offensive success, especially in the postseason, as he has 352 of his team-leading 899 receiving yards and two of his seven receiving touchdowns in the playoffs. Junior WR Kyler Vaughn is tied with Neto for a team-high in receptions with 49 and leads the way with nine touchdown catches to go with 680 yards. Vernon and sophomore RB Chris Blanks both have rushed for 500-plus yards and own a combined 13 rushing touchdowns, while Vernon has 13 catches out of the backfield, including two touchdowns (both game-winners). …Defensively, Grandview has given up the most total points of any of the eight teams remaining (an average of 22.2 per game), but has risen up in big moments when needed. Wa-Kalonji has 108 tackles and a team-high five sacks (among 11 tackles for loss), while junior FS Brandon Kahre paces the team with 119 tackles and nearly a third of the 47 tackles for junior DT Marcus Nesbitt (15) have been for a loss. Szarka and Neto have been deployed in certain defensive packages and add to a group with a variety of playmakers. …On special teams, Neto and Vaughn both have been impactful in the return game while senior PK Kyle Chavez has connected on 33 of his 44 PAT attempts and is 5-for-8 in field goal tries with a long of 36 yards.
WINNER GETS: The Chatfield-Grandview winner advances to the Class 5A semifinals to face the winner of the quarterfinal between No. 2 Columbine and No. 10 Legend.