Football: Local state playoff capsules

Jim Benton
Posted

Ponderosa coach Jamie Woodruff has a simple formula for success in the Colorado state football playoffs.

“You have to get better through the playoffs,” said Woodruff. “When we’ve done well, that’s what we’ve done. You need to get better and better.”

Undefeated Ponderosa is one of two Douglas County teams still alive in the playoffs.

The Mustangs, the No. 2 seed, plays at Mesa Ridge Friday night in the Class 4A quarterfinal game and top-seeded ThunderRidge will host No. 9 Grandview in a Class 5A quarterfinal matchup at Shea Stadium.

Valor Christian of Highlands Ranch will host Arapahoe in another 5A quarterfinal.

Here is a capsule glance at the playoff games featuring local teams:

Class 5A

ThunderRidge (10-1) vs. Grandview(8-3)

When, where: 7 p.m., Friday at Shea Stadium

Game plan: The Grizzlies defense, which has allowed 90 points in two playoff victories, will have to play much better to contain elusive quarterback Reece Weber and the Grandview offense. Weber has rushed for 673 yards and averaged 5.85 yards per carry. He’s passed for 1,645 yards and can count on Cassius Davis and Isaiah Jackson for ground support. Tanner Gentry has caught 47 passes for 980 yards, an average of 20.85 yards per reception.

Extra point: ThunderRidge’s offense, led by Brody Westmoreland, Steve Ray, Jake Hand, Mark Hopper and Jesse Krieger, can put points on the score board as evidenced by 308 points in the past six games. But this game will probably come down to which defense can rise to the occasion. Grandview will have a revenge motive since ThunderRidge beat the Wolves 34-20 earlier this season on Sept. 13.

Arapahoe (10-1) vs. Valor Christian (9-2)

When, where: 7 p.m., Friday at Valor Christian Stadium

Game plan: Arapahoe will look to keep a nice balance on offense with quarterback Taven Sparks (98-of-167 for 1,387 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions) throwing the ball to tight end Ethan Brunhofer (36-571-7) and wide receiver Michael Babb (29-504-3), and running back Jose Cancanon (204 carries, 1,281 yards and 15 touchdowns) doing the work on the ground. The same holds true for the Valor Christian offense, which has scored 40-plus points in every game of its current nine-game winning streak. Quarterback Luke Del Rio continues to dominate opposing defenses; he’s thrown just three interceptions on the year, compared with 21 touchdowns. Running backs Daryl Hawkins and Christian McCaffrey will likely split carries as they did a week ago against Regis Jesuit.

Extra point: The offensive stars get all the attention, but pay close attention to the defense. That’s where this game will be one. Which defense can stop the opposing offense and maybe force a couple of turnovers? The team that imposes its will defensively will win the game and move on to the semifinals.

Class 4A

Ponderosa (11-0) vs. Mesa Ridge (8-3)

When, where: 7 p.m., Friday, C.A. Foster Stadium

Game plan: Mesa Ridge picked up its first playoff win in school history last week and the Grizzlies, who are averaging 38.8 points per game, will offer a stiff test for the Ponderosa defense. Tremell Stanley had nine tackles and two sacks in the first round win over Montrose and he has rushed for 1,077 yards on the season. Curtis Crockett is averaging 8.19 yards per carry and quarterback Cody Groff has passed for 1,419 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Extra point: Ponderosa has a versatile offense that can score in many ways but it’s been the Mustang defense that has been strong in recent games. Mesa Ridge, however, made two early goal line stands against Montrose which sparked the 35-14 victory for the tenth-seeded Grizzlies.