Cherry Creek in Position to Become First Class 5A Football Program to Triple Twice
Only two programs in the history of Class 5A football have won three consecutive state titles – Cherry Creek from 1994-96 and Mullen from 2008-10.
This year, the Bruins may be the first program to triple twice.
Cherry Creek hasn’t lost a game since 2018, but coach Dave Logan – who led Mullen’s triple round – has warned his Bruins are “starting from scratch” in 2021 as they return just three starters in attack and one in defense.
“All of these successes over the past two seasons are enjoyable, but it’s all history,” Logan said. “None of this matters in terms of how we approach this year or our process. On the first day of summer, I talked about last year, and it was a great year. And the last two years have been really great, even the last three, even though we didn’t play as well as Valor Christian in that state championship game (2018).
“But I told them they weren’t going to hear me mention last year again. This team is gone, what they accomplished is on the books, and what we accomplish this year will be up to us. ”
The quarterback position was volatile when fall camp began, with juniors Marte Russell and Christian Hammond battling for the top spot.
But senior tackle George Fitzpatrick (Ohio State pledge) and senior winger Ky Oday Jr. (Colorado State) provide a pair of offensive stalwarts, while junior defensive end / outside linebacker Blake Purchase is the anchor of defense.
Purchase is the younger brother of Myles Purchase, a key figure in the Bruins’ class of 2021 who now plays at Iowa State. The youngest Purchase has over half a dozen Division I offerings so far and knows he has a pivotal role to play in upgrading Cherry Creek’s inexperienced defense.
“Last year I was a third or fourth playmaker option on the defensive line,” Purchase said. “This year I have to take on that leadership role, make more tackles in the racing game. Last year, I was more of a passing guy. This year I have to do everything and talk about it too. ”
Overall, Oday explained that the Bruins “are trying to prove that we haven’t lost much, even though we have a lot of new guys on the pitch. But the team also realizes that there will likely be a lot more adversity this fall than they have faced for two consecutive unbeaten seasons.
Cherry Creek has a stacked non-conference schedule with playoffs against Pomona (September 9 in the home opener at the Stutler Bowl), in Chandler (an Arizona powerhouse that has won 36 straight wins) and Regis Jesuit.
Fitzpatrick believes the Bruins are capable of climbing the learning curve to reach the top in the playoffs in November.
“In this program there is a great tradition of winning and a long history of courage, and it will help us in difficult situations,” said Fitzpatrick. “The leaders who have been here, we have to help the younger ones to progress… It’s a new team with a completely different identity and we can’t expect perfection in every series and every game. ”
No matter how green the Bruins are, the wait at Greenwood Village is another state title. They have the same expectations at Highlands Ranch, where Valor Christian is, on paper, the preseason favorite.
While there are certainly other programs that will challenge in Class 5A – Columbine, Pomona and Regis Jesuit atop that mix – Cherry Creek and Valor Christian could be on a collision course to meet in the title game. for the third time in four seasons. It would be the programs’ fourth title fight overall, with the Bruins currently holding a 2-1 lead.
Valor Christian has the state’s best running back and Oklahoma promises Gavin Sawchuk, who has accumulated 3,720 rushing yards and 52 touchdowns in his first three seasons. Add four more Division I players – left tackle Jake Maikkula (Stanford), linebacker Jordan Norwood (Liberty), outside linebacker Cayden Hawkins (Wyoming) and defensive end Luke Meyer (Air Force) – and the Eagles are loaded. to run to the ninth school championship.
The Eagles are also very motivated. On TVs in the Valor Christian weight room, sophomore coach Donnie Yantis wrote “21-0” in red letters – the score for last year’s title loss to Cherry Creek. And they stacked their non-conference schedule with fights against Oaks Christian (Calif.) And Eastside Catholic (Washington), as well as Regis Jesuit and Columbine.
“Creek is the team to beat for me,” Yantis said. “They won 25 straight games, a few state titles, and they whipped us in the state championship game… (The 21-0 callback) isn’t really about Creek, but how we ended up and what that we felt when we came off the field after that game… I want the kids to remember that feeling all off season when they are training and are tired.
Logan, winner of nine state titles and 290 games in 28 seasons as a Colorado high school coach, also stepped back from any bulletin board material regarding what quickly became football’s preeminent rivalry in the state schools. But it is clear that the competition between the behemoths is high in both directions.
“I have great respect for Valor – they have great players and a great program and are very well trained,” said Logan. “This (21-0 reminder) is none of my business, but it’s their weight room.”