AURORA | The Eaglecrest football team preformed exactly the way the No. 2 seed in the Class 5A state football playoffs is supposed to Nov. 10.
That is, build a big early lead against a lower-seeded opponent, close it out strong and advance to the next round.
The second-seeded Raptors jumped on 15th-seeded Fountain-Fort Carson right away in their first round postseason contest at Legacy Stadium and kept a comfortable margin on their way to a 35-14 victory.
Playing with heavy hearts after the unexpected passing of freshman coach Armando Rodriguez during the week, coach Mike Schmitt’s Eaglecrest team channelled its emotions into a performance that yielded its 11th victory of the season and qualified it for the 5A quarterfinals for the second straight season.
Senior running back Kenny Wantings rushed for four touchdowns and senior quarterback Jalen Mergerson threw a touchdown pass to senior Corey Corbin for the Raptors’ other score.
Eaglecrest is now set to face seventh-seeded Cherry Creek — a 34-21 winner over 10th-seeded Ralston Valley — in a quarterfinal contest at 1 p.m. Nov. 18 at Legacy Stadium.
It will be the first meeting of the Raptors and Bruins since before realignment broke up the Centennial League in football after the 2015 season. Cherry Creek won that meeting 42-7.
Eaglecrest lost to Regis Jesuit in the quarterfinals of last season’s playoffs to see an undefeated season come to an end and it hopes that experience and the further development of a senior-lead group can take it further this season.
Aside from a couple of turnovers that kept the game from being more in their favor, the Raptors showed the recipe for playoff success in their win over Fountain-Fort Carson, the only sub-.500 team in the 5A playoff field.
Eaglecrest marched 80 yards with its first possession and Wantings got into the end zone from five yards out, while Mergerson found a leaping Corbin in the back of the end zone for another score just a few minutes later.
A fake punt and pass from senior Theryne Sandoval-Jimenez to junior Elijah Anderson-Taylor set up Wantings’ 8-yard TD run in the second quarter and he scored twice more on short runs in the second half as the Raptors’ lead never fell below 14 points.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
(2) EAGLECREST 35, (15) FOUNTAIN-FORT CARSON 14
Score by quarters:
Ftn-Ft Carson 0 7 0 7 — 14
Eaglecrest 14 7 7 7 — 35