AURORA | A capsule look at the 2017 Class 5A state football first round playoff matchup between No. 9 Lakewood and No. 8 Grandview:
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
NO. 9 LAKEWOOD (8-2) VS. NO. 8 GRANDVIEW (8-2)
Noon, Nov. 11 at Legacy Stadium
BREAKDOWN: Grandview and Lakewood meet up in the Class 5A state playoffs for the third time in the past 12 seasons, with each team owning a victory in the previous contest. The Tigers knocked off the Wolves 14-7 at Legacy Stadium in the second round of the 2006 playoffs, while Grandview countered with a 40-0 blanking of Lakewood at the North Area Athletic Complex in the 2014 postseason. The teams haven’t played since…
LAKEWOOD: The Tigers come in as one of five teams in the Mount Lincoln League to qualify for the 5A playoffs — the most of any of the seven conferences — joining No. 1 Valor Christian, No. 13 Poudre, No. 14 Highlands Ranch and No. 15 Fountain-Fort Carson. Coach Jeff Braun’s Lakewood team has won three games in a row since a loss to undefeated Valor Christian…The Tigers feature an offensive attack that includes two quarterbacks who have in virtually equal amounts in every game in seniors Ezekiel Sundberg, a greater running threat, and junior Pierce Holley, a more traditional passer. They have almost identical numbers as well with Sundberg throwing for 885 yards and eight touchdowns and Holly for 883 yards and eight touchdowns in just nine fewer attempts. Lakewood has seven players with at least 100 yards receiving on the season, topped by senior Rex Desso with 516 yards and seven TDs. Sundberg is also the team’s leading rusher with 537 yards and five touchdowns, while junior Kegan Hufford has a team-high seven rushing scores….Defensively, senior DB Nick Pierro leads Lakewood with 119 tackles, followed closely by senior LB Phillip Luba (98, including team-high 3 sacks) and senior CB Weston Lee (95). Sundberg and Hufford have six interceptions apiece on a team that has picked of 17 passes and forced 23 turnovers in all in 10 games.
GRANDVIEW: The Wolves finished undefeated in the Mount Massive League for the second straight season and again were the only team from the conference to make it into the 5A playoffs, which tied the conference for the fewest qualifiers with the Mount Antero League (Regis Jesuit). Coach John Schultz has led Grandview to the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season and the Wolves have yet to lose a first round postseason game in its previous 12 appearances…Grandview’s defense has been one of the best in the state this season as it has yielded just 105 points per game, which is just one more than 5A-leading Eaglecrest, with 40 of those points coming in one game against Cherry Creek on Sept. 22. The Wolves allowed single digits in half of their games, including shutouts of Legacy (34-0) and Smoky Hill (47-0). Grandview lost two of its key defensive pieces late in the regular season, however, as senior LB Thomas Jenkins and senior DB Jordan Knapke — the team’s top 10 tacklers — both suffered season-ending ACL injuries in a Week 9 win over Arapahoe. Among players on the field, senior DB Kevin Clark is the team’s leading tackler with 57 and sack leader with 5.0. Junior LB Trevor Greenlee is tied for the team lead with two interceptions and has also recovered two fumbles, taking them both back for touchdowns. Senior LB Luke La Flam also has two defensive touchdowns in addition to 40 stops, while senior LB Darius Tucker is also among the team leaders in tackles (42) and sacks (3.0). The injuries have forced some adjustments, with senior standout WR Gunner Gentry on the field more in the defensive backfield…Offensively, the Wolves rank 10th in the state in points scored with 314 in 10 games, including a four-game stretch of 40 or more points in the middle of the season. Grandview senior QB Kyle Smith exited Grandview’s regular season finale against Overland with a slight neck injury, but is expected to return for the playoffs. He threw his 15th touchdown pass of the season — against two interceptions — against the Trailblazers, with La Flam coming on to run the team in his stead. Gentry is the big play target in the passing game and is getting back to normal after missing half of the season due to injury. He has five touchdown catches, tied with senior WR Julius Carter Jr. (358 yards, 5 touchdowns) for team highs. Junior RB Jordan Billingsley has taken advantage of Grandview’s improving play on the offensive line to finish the season with seventh straight games with more than 100 yards rushing and has scored multiple touchdowns in four of his last six games.
WINNER GETS: The Lakewood-Grandview winner moves on to a Nov. 17-18 quarterfinal contest against No. 1 Valor Christian, which beat No. 16 Chaparral 35-7 in a first round contest Nov. 10.