Football: Cherokee Trail capsule

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CHEROKEE TRAIL

Mascot: Cougars

Coach: Monte Thelen, 13th season

Cherokee Trail
CHEROKEE TRAIL

2014 record: 3-7 overall, 0-5 in 5A Centennial League (lost in 1st round of Class 5A playoffs)

Players to watch: Ashton Torres, 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, OL, sr.; Max Gonzales, 6-0, 215, LB/RB, jr.; Michael Thelen, LB, sr.; Quincey Voss, 5-10, 178, RB, sr.; Anthony Holmes, 6-0, 225, LB, sr.; KJ Sapp, 5-8, 150, WR, jr.; Ronnie Barfield, 6-2, 175, WR, sr.; So Ku Mun-Williams, 6-0, 216, DL, jr.; Tyler Kruse, 5-10, 155, WR, jr.; Ruben Estrada, 6-3, 230, OL, jr.; Seth Bogulski, 5-11, 186, DL, sr.; Michael Morris, 5-11, 160, QB/S, jr.; Brenden Holt, 5-10, 170, RB/DB, jr.; Conner Nantkes, 6-2, 175, QB, jr. (injured)

2015 outlook: Coach Monte Thelen‘s Cougars experienced something it hadn’t gone through in more than a decade, a losing record. Just a year after Cherokee Trail finished 10-3 and lost to eventual Class 5A state champion Valor Christian in the semifinals, Thelen’s team finished 3-7 and went winless in Centennial League play against the likes of Cherry Creek, Eaglecrest, Grandview, Overland and Valor Christian. The Cougars still qualified for the 5A playoffs and challenged Mountain Vista before losing by 10 points in the first round. Graduation, especially on the defensive side of the ball, had a big impact on Cherokee Trail, but so did losses in close games, as it suffered defeats by two points (to Overland in overtime), five points (to Eaglecrest), nine points (to Grandview) and 10 points (to Valor Christian). Thelen found out “there’s a fine line between being successful and being unsuccessful,” but the Cougars could definitely get back on the line of success with the amount of talent in the program. Tone-setter and All-Centennial League first teamer Ashton Torres (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) leads an offensive line with experienced players in at least three spots that will have plenty of chances to block for a competitive running back rotation that includes quick Quincey Voss, bruising Max Gonzales — a transfer from Rangeview who was the South Metro League Offensive Player of the Year last season — and Brenden Holt, a mix of both, plus a passing game that should utilize senior Ronnie Barfield and juniors KJ Sapp and Tyler Kruse. On defense, which has long been a strength for the Cherokee Trail program, the Cougars will be stacked at linebacker with Gonzales and seniors Anthony Holmes (a second team all-league selection in 2014) and Michael Thelen, while a defensive line including Seth Bogulski and So Ku Mun-Williams will be charged with plugging up blockers for the linebackers to make plays. Schedule: Aside from the Centennial League “gauntlet,” Cherokee Trail faces a tough non-league slate — the same one that saw them go 3-1 last year — of ThunderRidge, Denver East, Regis Jesuit and Rangeview.

Schedule: Home games in all caps (played at Legacy Stadium) – Friday, Sept. 4 — vs. ThunderRidge at Shea Stadium, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 11 — DENVER EAST, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 18 — at Regis Jesuit, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 24 — RANGEVIEW, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 2 — CHERRY CREEK, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 9 — vs. Grandview at Legacy Stadium, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 15 — VALOR CHRISTIAN, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 23 — vs. Eaglecrest at Legacy Stadium, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 30 — OVERLAND, 7 p.m.

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