GREENWOOD VILLAGE | Regis Jesuit became the first football team of the pandemic-shortened season to be within one score of top-ranked Cherry Creek at halftime.
Full of energy and fire Friday evening at Stutler Bowl, coach Danny Filleman’s Raiders — who went into the break on a high after senior Jaden Ohlsen drilled a 48-yard field goal as time expired — felt like they could be the team to topple the Bruins, the defending Class 5A state champions.
But like nearly every one of the teams before it, Regis Jesuit couldn’t find a way to get into the end zone against the Cherry Creek defense, which scored itself late in a 29-6 victory. The Bruins (7-0) advanced to a semifinal matchup against No. 4 Pomona, which knocked out another Aurora team, No. 5 Eaglecrest, in another quarterfinal.
With just eight teams in the playoff field this year, Regis Jesuit — which finished 5-2, with its only other loss to No. 3 Legend, which plays in the quarterfinals Saturday — had an eight-season streak of winning at least one postseason game that dated back to 2011.
The Raiders finished ahead of Cherokee Trail in the Colorado High School Activities Association’s seeding index, but were swapped into the No. 8 spot to avoid Cherokee Trail facing Cherry Creek (a fellow league opponent) in the first round of the playoffs.
Regis Jesuit came in undaunted at the prospects of taking on the Bruins, who went 14-0 last season and won all six of its six regular season games this season with an average margin of victory of nearly 40 points.
Cherry Creek hadn’t enjoyed less than a 17-point lead going into halftime of any game of the season, yet the Raiders were within eight points and couldn’t help but think they could have been even closer.
Down 14-0 after the Bruins had a pair of James Walker touchdowns — including a 96-yard sprint on a third-down play after Regis Jesuit had pinned Cherry Creek inside its own 5, the Raiders responded with back-to-back quality scoring drives, though neither made it all the way into the end zone.
Timely completions by sophomore quarterback Exander Carroll and hard running by senior running back David Dody got Regis Jesuit into the red zone, but a sack and two short gains forced it to settle for a 26-yard field goal from Ohlsen, who had kicked a game-winner the previous week against Pine Creek.
The Raiders got another chance with less than two minutes left in the half and Dody had a chance to break away for a touchdown, but he was tripped up from behind by Cherry Cerek safety Austin Luhring, the only defender that had a chance to stop him after catching a pass across the middle.
A roughing the kicker penalty on a punt extended the drive, but a sack derailed thoughts of a touchdown and Regis Jesuit went into the tents at halftime on a high after Ohlsen dropped through his kick from 48 yards out.
The Raiders also looked forward to receiving the opening kickoff, but couldn’t convert on the possession and the Bruins extended their lead on another Walker touchdown midway through the quarter after a long pass from quarterback Julian Hammond to Chase Penry.
Regis Jesuit wouldn’t score the rest of the way as Cherry Creek’s defense recorded a safety and then a touchdown on an interception return by defensive back Myles Purchase inside the final two minutes.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
(1) CHERRY CREEK 29, (8) REGIS JESUIT 6
Score by quarters:
Regis Jesuit 0 6 0 0 — 6
Cherry Creek 7 7 9 6 — 29
Cherry Creek — James Walker II 4 yard run (Boden Page kick), 7:34
Cherry Creek — Walker 96 yard run (Page kick),