Colorado 5A Quarterfinals Playoff Preview

A look at every game taking place tonight and tomorrow in the state quarterfinal playoffs. Mullen is taking on Columbine. Legacy is taking on Ponderosa. Heritage meets up with Overland. Our prep spotlight will be on Arvada West and their contest with Overland. Find out what to look for in all of these showdowns; key players, key match-ups, and keys to winning.

Last weekend we saw both DPS teams (Montbello, South) go down, Overland avenge its early season pasting and beating Grandview in overtime. Heritage and Legacy advance when many thought Douglas County and South could go on, myself included. Columbine beat Cherry Creek 21-14 in their first meeting since the 1999 playoffs. Mullen besting Boulder for the second time this season, this one was much more lopsided than the previous meeting in which Boulder held the lead with 3 minutes left, only to watch the Mustangs march 80 yards for the winning touchdown. Arvada West beating Poudre in a game much different than the 28-14 score would indicate. Without RB Jimmy DeAndrea, the Wildcats were supposedly doomed, only to be carried by senior QB John Varner. Finally Pomona beat Regis in a lopsided game and we are left to wonder what Arapahoe (stayed home due to wildcard rankings at 7-3 vs 6-4 for Regis) could have done against the Panthers.

Mullen at Columbine
Jefferson County Stadium Friday 7pm

These two have been playoff regulars, meeting three times in the last four years. Columbine won their last matchup in last year's quarterfinals, 38-14. Both teams lost outstanding players, but are eager to advance to the semifinals.

Mullen was all over Boulder last week, amassing 453 yards of total offense. RB Maurice Greer ran for 211 yards and one TD and WR Nathan Yorks had 160 yards receiving and three TDs. SR QB Conor Rauschelbach is the catalyst this year. Conor didn't have the numbers he may have wanted on the season but a state title would be nice. LB Josh Duren plays from sideline-to-sideline. Only a JR, Duren is as close to a superstar as the Mustang defense has.

Columbine QB/DB Tyler Monteath and RB Logan Wright, lead the Rebel rushing attack. Not as dominant as years past, C Garrett Collins and OL Chris Wood are intimidating forces upfront. The size and ability drops after these two and has been a primary cause in their losses to Pomona and Bear Creek. Arvada West was also off to a good start against Columbine before Jimmy DeAndrea was hurt. RBs Aaron Ingles and Scott Sheffield will also see action as the Rebels try and wear their opponents out. The defense lacks the playmaking of a Landon Jones and Dusty Hoffschneider, but they get the job done and are not afraid to hit.

This is a game full of title implications and intrigue. Centennial vs JeffCo in the quarters for bragging rights

Legacy at Ponderosa
Douglas County Public Stadium Saturday 1pm

Legacy's only loss came at the hands of Arvada West. Don't let that fool you as they played in arguably the state's worst big school conference in the Front Range League. Both teams beat DPS schools to advance.

In his first game in a year, RB Tyler Davis ran for 115 yards, spelling the injured Dan Cummings who had ran for 1,300 yards on the year. If these two are at full strength, they may pack the best two-man punch in the playoffs. QB Noah Shepherd is an athlete running and throwing. He won't beat you with one or the other, but together he can cause serious trouble. Many doubted Legacy as I still do, but nothing works better in high school than team play.

Ponderosa basks in the glory of a big school and a big team. OL Nick Aletto is a monster in the making and FB Tom Lawson is a load. 6'1 225 lbs and 1,300 yards on the year make these two an outstanding tandem in cold weather. QB Grant Stucker sealed the game last week with a long run. Defensive leader, LB Tyler Wanzeck was all over Montbello, 100 tackles and 5 sacks this year, Wanzeck is moving up with his solid play.

Ponderosa's losses came at the hands of Arvada West, Heritage, and Arapahoe. The commonality of these two is the loss to Arvada West. We will see on Saturday who the better team is. Thankfully neither team will have to face Arvada West unless it is in the finals.

Heritage at Overland
Stutler Bowl Friday 7pm

Heritage boasts 5A leading rusher Bobby Coy, at 2,264 yards in a tough conference, Coy deserves all the credit he gets. He busted off a 58 yard TD last week late in the game to put a stamp on things. QB Austin Krum is another high school athlete. Not particularly adept with either coveted QB skill, Krum wills his team along with Coy to victory. These two are lethal if swallowed, so the ‘Blazers must be very careful in preparing for the Ealges.

Overland on the other hand boasts no major offensive weapons. QB Thomas Littleton had only 35 yards against Grandview last week and had 15 INTs to 7TDs throughout the season. The running game does show flashes of glimmer with Miles Hays, Maurice Cox and Jeff Peevey. Combined, they had 2,000 rushing yards on the season. The defense is the catalyst for the Trailblazers. LB Tyler Joyce and DL Robert Claypool lead the way for a defense that excels in takeaways, having four against Grandview last week.

Coach Manfredi is the difference for Overland, he is in his 22nd year and has 180 victories. This game will be quick as both will keep it on the ground. Expect this one to be Coy vs the Blazer D! Heritage has to be licking its chops after escaping the rally of Douglas County.

*Game of the Week*
Arvada West at Pomona-NAAC Friday 7pm

RB Jimmy DeAndrea was injured against Columbine and the Wildcats lost two in a row. A big win against Poudre last week has the Wildcats with a renewed intensity and carrying some confidence. QB John Varner will have to carry the young offense. Not one starting OL is a senior. Varner, also star on the court, will need a huge game for the Cats. He played very well against Poudre, there is no reason he won't be jacked for the rivalry rematch. LB Kyle Sand is a hometown favorite and a fireplug. He will be looking to avenge the city battle this weekend. 137 tackles on the season and 20 in the first Pomona game are a sign of what is to come.

Pomona has been the surprise of the season. First year coach Jay Madden has the Panthers full of piss and vinegar with an attitude of no one believes in us. QB Nick Sullivan has 2,000 all-purpose yards on the season and RB Jared Yannacito, 1,182 rushing on the year, are a potent attack. In the mold of the Columbine teams of previous years, the Panthers will pound you up front and dare you to beat them. They easily overpowered a banged up Regis squad last week.

It is a shame these two meet in the quarterfinals. The first battle was a 28-21 Pomona win without DeAndrea.

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