Bruins survive after Raptors miss late FG
AURORA » If this was Chapter 1 toward a potential Class 5A playoff rematch, the early diagnosis suggests to expect a thriller. An unforeseen bout between defenses culminated with a missed field goal on fourthand3 with less than a minute remaining, leaving No. 4 Eaglecrest stunned in what would’ve been a hallmark win for firstyear coach Garrett Looney.
The final: Cherry Creek 14, Eaglecrest 13.
The topranked Bruins, who went scoreless through the first 31 K minutes before mounting a fourthquarter comeback, capitalized on two critical turnovers late in the third quarter that led to a late win at Legacy Stadium on Friday, solidifying their No. 1 rank in this week’s CHSAANow.com poll.
Cherry Creek, which showed life on offense in the first half but struggled to gain any traction, remained persistent. Quarterback Alex Padilla led the backtoback scoring drives that culminated with a touchdown pass to tight end Vance Brazile, and a running score by Jayle Stacks, who rumbled for an offtackle touchdown in which he dragged three defenders into the end zone with him with 7:54 remaining in the game.
The Bruins made their case as arguably the best team in the state with just two games remaining until the 5A playoffs. Head coach Dave Logan’s halftime adjustments led to a rejuvenated and aggressive offense in the second half. Padilla was 10of15 passing for 121 yards, keeping the Bruins alive while their running attack averaged just two yards per carry on 28 attempts.
It rained on Eaglecrest coach Garrett Looney’s breakout game with his effective tripleoption offense that was installed just this season, as the Raptors again faced an awakening relating to ball security. Senior transfer quarterback Dylan James was the culprit on three of the four fumbles; running back Isaiah Emecheta dropped the last ball that led to Cherry Creek’s goahead score.
James ran for 114 yards on 21 attempts and was just 1of2 through the air, part of a bydesign approach that puts a premium on the Raptors’ ground attack. James churned out one lengthy drive after another, pounding Eaglecrest’s offense upfield behind its burly linemen, the linchpins of their persistent attack. Behind left tackle Brad Miller (committed to Stanford), right tackle Jake Wiley (Colorado) and center Reece Atteberry (offers from Michigan and Ohio State), the Raptors ran for two touchdowns in the first half while their admittedly suspect defense limited Cherry Creek to just four first downs and zero points.
James, the 5foot9, 160pound speedster, recovered one of his fumbles and scored from midfield to push the Raptors ahead, 130, scoring his 25th touchdown of the season and 21st on the ground. The Cherokee Trail transfer, who played almost exclusively at running back with the Cougars, is widely revered as among the best dualthreat quarterbacks in the state, and with his trio of linemen up front, the Raptors, turnovers aside, showed their ability to ambush defenses with physicality and speed.
Friday was supposed to feature offensive outbursts from both teams — each came into this Centennial League clash averaging more than 40 points per game — but it manifested into a defensive duel, which could reflect how these teams gameplan for each other should they meet again in the coming weeks. Eaglecrest defeated Cherry Creek, 267, in the second round of last year’s playoffs.
The Bruins host No. 10 Cherokee Trail then wrap their season in two weeks at Grandview. The Raptors next week play Arapahoe and then complete their regular season with Cherokee Trail, leaving a small margin to remain near the top of the 5A standings heading into the postseason.
Eaglecrest kicker Taylor Gomez (85) holds his head in his hands after missing a field goal late in the fourth quarter against the Cherry Creek on Friday.