Championship Game Observations

Here are some scouting reports on the talent that was on the field for the 5A state title game. Included are looks at CU commits <b>Taj Kaynor</b> and <b>Chris Guarnero</b>.

Grant Crunkelton: With Cherry Creek running the spread offense, Crunkelton knew he was going to get quite a bit of action. He was up the challenge. Crunkelton looked spectacular 99% of the time. The marquee matchup of the game saw Creek's star wideout Derrick Levy going against Crunkelton. Grant dominated this matchup. Numerous times, Levy tried to outrace Crunkelton down the field, but Grant stayed with him stride for stride. Crunkelton has tremendous speed and great closing speed. There were numerous times where it appeared there would be no way to get to the ball on time; Crunkelton still managed to make the play. Grant is one of the better cornerback prospects I've seen in the state in a number of years. Why do I say he played well 99% of the time? There was one play in the third quarter where Crunkelton was defending the long pass, got turned around, and his receiver caught the ball. Crunkelton compensated for this by grabbing the facemask of the receiver, getting a 15 yard penalty added to the play. This was the exception, not the rule, as Crunkelton had a spectacular game. One of his impressive plays was early in the first quarter. Creek ran the option to Crunkelton's's side. He completely disrupted the play, forcing the QB to make an early pitch and then taking down the running back. Another play where Grant impressed was on one of his two interceptions. The ball was tipped by another defender. Crunkelton had the awareness to stay with the play and the talent to make an excellent sideline catch.

Jesse White: All the accolades received by White are well deserved. I saw Jon Cooper play earlier this season and wrote on this site that he's a tremendous prospect. White is even better. White lines up at Center for the Mustangs and more often than not, the Mustangs run right behind him. White overpowered the Creek line, pushing the lineman he was up against five to six yards back on most plays. The thing that sticks out most about White is his athleticism. He has great agility to go with his dominating strength. Mullen had a 4th and 1 in the second quarter. They ran a quarterback sneak behind White and it appeared to be five yards before anyone even laid their hands on the QB. As my notes indicate, "Yet another run behind White. Yet another big gain."

Maurice Greer: Greer got off to a slow start and I was left asking if he deserved the hype. That question was quickly answered. Greer ran roughshod through the Cherry Creek defense, amassing over 200 yards and two touchdowns. Greer is definitely a four-star prospect. He has the size, speed and agility to play for most schools in the nation. What impressed me both about Greer was his acceleration through the hole. As soon as he got the ball, BAM, he was running right through the hole. Cherry Creek pinned Mullen inside their own five yard line in the 4th quarter. A stacked Creek line looked to shut down the Mustangs and force them to punt from deep in their own territory. With Maurice Greer in the backfield, it wasn't to be. Greer took the ball in his own end zone, hit a hole, shook off a few tacklers, and ran for a 50+ yard gain. One of the knocks on Greer is that he is sometimes afraid to take on oncoming tacklers (think Brian Calhoun). I found that not to be the case yesterday. In the first quarter, a Creek linebacker tried to take down Greer, but instead Maurice hit him head on and stood up the oncoming defender. There is a lot of skepticism that Greer amasses such great numbers because he runs behind that dominant Mullen offensive line. While Greer did have great blocking, it appeared to me that Greer also knows how to make a play happen on his own, either by shaking off the tackler or making him miss. Greer is a top-tier prospect.

Chris Guarnero: Junior commitment Guarnero showed Saturday why he warranted an early offer. Chris is one of the better lineman in the state right now as a Junior. I was extremely impressed with this Mullen right tackle. Guarnero is huge, but showed great agility and footwork. Guarnero dominated on the line all game, rarely letting the Creek defender he was up against even sniff the backfield. As my second half notes indicate, "Chris held his defender again with no problem." That was basically what happened most of the afternoon. Guarnero is a great talent, and with another year in the weight room, is going to be even better. I expect Guarnero to be one of the top players in the state next season. I had a chance to talk with Chris briefly yesterday as he was finishing the Mullen post-game celebration. When asked how he thought he played, Chris replied, "I thought I played real well. I thought the whole team played well." Did Cherry Creek throw anything unexpected at them? "No. We knew exactly what they were going to do. We knew they'd come out in the 3-5 and we knew what we had to do beat them." As for the feeling of winning a state championship. "Man, it's a great feeling! There's not a feeling like this in the world!" I asked Chris if he would be watching the Big 12 Championship Game. "Oh yeah. I think the Buffs will do what we did: win!"

Taj Kaynor: The thing that strikes you about Taj Kaynor is his size. He's every bit the 6'5 that he's listed. He has a massive frame. Think Tyler Brayton. Taj appeared to struggle a bit Saturday, having problems with the Mullen offensive line. Taj has excellent pursuit skills, as he did get into the Mullen backfield on a few occasions and chased down the QB. Given time in the CU weight room, Taj is going to be one of the bigger players on the CU roster.

Adam Block: I thought Cherry Creek's safety had an impressive performance. Block is not afraid to lay a hit. In the second quarter, on a QB sneak, Block rushed in and leveled the quarterback, Block is one of the more underrated prospects in the state. He's big, has good speed, and the mentality to be a successful safety.

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