BY FREDA MIKLIN
The two semi-final games of the 2021 5A Colorado High School Athletic Association were just as the rankings predicted. On November 27, number one ranked Valor Christian defeated number four ranked Grandview by a score of 37 to 6 to advance to the state championship game. Likewise, number two ranked Cherry Creek dominated number three ranked Legend to face Valor in the state championship. The score was 48 to 14, with all of Legend’s points being scored in the fourth quarter. The Colorado state 5A football championship game will be played on December 4 at 2:30 PM at Empower Field at Mile High. These teams also faced each other in the 2020 state championship, where Cherry Creek took the title by a score of 21 to 0. They also faced off in 2018, when Valor won by a score of 24 to 14.
Coming into the semi-final game, Cherry Creek Sports Network announcers Benjamin Parris and Matthew Anderson told us that in the playoffs so far Creek had scored seven rushing touchdowns and zero passing touchdowns. That changed with Creek’s first possession that ended after four plays with a touchdown pass from quarterback Christian Hammond to wide receiver Ky Oday that came with over eight minutes left in the first quarter.
On the next possession by Legend, Cherry Creek sophomore linebacker Angelo Petrides intercepted Legend quarterback Colton Warner at Creek’s 28-yard line. Two plays later, Creek junior running back Carlson “Bubba” Tann ran the ball in for a touchdown. With 4:10 to play in the first quarter, kicker Boden Page hit the PAT and it was 14-0, Cherry Creek Bruins.
When the quarter ended, Legend was on the Cherry Creek 39-yard line. After two minutes of the second quarter, Legend faced a fourth down and nine yards to go, QB Warner handed off to running back Bryce Vaz who ran to the 11- yard line, but then Legend started going backwards. After an incomplete pass, it was third and long at the 15-yard line. After Creek outside linebacker Blake Purchase almost intercepted the ball, it deflected back to Warner and the ball ended up at the 25-yard line on 4th down. Legend tried a field goal but it was no good.
With seven minutes to go in the half, Creek QB Hammond passed 20 yards to Ky Oday. Now on the Legend 45- yard line, Hammond passed again, this time six yards to junior wide receiver Kyair Johnston. After the next pass to junior Arion Boyd resulted in a two-yard loss, it was third down on the 40- yard line and Creek took a time out to talk things over. The next play was a 15-yard run on a quarterback keeper by Christian Hammond to convert. After another time out, Hammond completed a pass to junior tight end Max Rodriguez, bringing the ball to the two-yard line. A fumble on the next play by Creek’s Arion Boyd, who was manhandled by Legend linebacker Zach Runyon, was recovered by Creek offensive lineman George Fitzpatrick, an Ohio State commit, who picked up the ball and scored a touchdown. It was 21-0 with just over 4 minutes left in the first half.
The next series ended with Legend punting from its 20-yard line. The Bruins started from their 13 with 1:26 left in the half. After sophomore wide receiver Jordan Herron ran the ball 10 yards, Cherry Creek went no huddle and the next run was to the 25. Then Hammond launched the ball 75 yards to Ky Oday for Creek’s 4th touchdown of the first half, resulting in a score of 28-0 when the half ended.
The Bruins get the ball first in the second half. After passes to Bubba Tann and Cooper Pollard and runs by Bubba Tan, Arion Boyd, Ky Oday, Jordan Herron and Christian Hammond, kicker Boden Page kicked a 45-yard field goal, his longest ever. It was 31-0 with 7:16 left in the third quarter.
After Legend’s next series ended with a punt, Creek started out on their 28-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Bubba Tann ran 77 yards for a touchdown. The score took only 15 seconds off the clock. It was 38-0 Creek with 4:20 left in the third quarter.
When the fourth quarter started the score was unchanged but Legend was on the Creek 36-yard line. The first play of the fourth quarter was a 15- yard run by Legend’s Bryce Vaz for a first down at the Creek 21-yard line. Two plays later, Warner tossed it to Vaz and Vaz passed the ball to tight end Brecken Reiser in the end zone. Legend was finally on the board with its first points one minute into the fourth quarter. After a successful PAT, the score was 38-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, Ky Oday caught the ball in the end zone and ran it back 100 yards for another Cherry Creek touchdown. He even picked up a block from offensive lineman George Fitzpatrick playing special teams. After the PAT, the score was 45-7 and there was still 10:53 left to play in the fourth quarter.
In the next series, it was third down and eight yards to go for Legend on the Creek 48-yard line when Warner threw a long pass and hit wide receiver Brecken Reiser, who ran to the Creek eleven-yard-line, leading to another Legend touchdown and a score of 45-14.
During the last eight minutes of the game, Creek put in a number of their younger players. When Creek punted the ball with 6:45 left to play, Legend fumbled the ball on their own eight-yard-line, leading to a Creek field goal with 4:26 left to play.
With 2:23 left, Legend made it to the Creek two-yard line with a second down before getting backed up eight yards to the Creek ten-yard line. An attempted trick play went backwards again and left Legend in a fourth down and 15 yards to go. A toss by Warner to Vaz and a perfect throw from Vaz to Legend wide receiver Grant Liljehorn was dropped, leading to a final score of 48-14.
If Cherry Creek wins the state title, it will be a three-peat that will tie the performance of the 1994, 1995 and 1996 Creek Bruins. The semi-final was Coach Dave Logan’s 101st win since coming to Cherry Creek to coach ten years ago.