Cherry Creek overflows with talent, on both sides of the ball. But it was the Bruins’ defense that thoroughly dominated ThunderRidge Saturday afternoon at Sutler Bowl.
No. 1-ranked Creek (10-2), on a mission to win its fourth consecutive Class 5A state championship, won 42-7 and advanced to next week’s semifinals against No. 5 Pine Creek (10-2), which beat No. 4 Grandview on Saturday.
The Bruins smothered quarterback D.J. Bordeaux, the Grizzlies’ freshman phenom, leaving him little time, and little space, to do his thing. The Bruins were in Bordeaux’s face all afternoon and took away his favorite passing lanes. Bordeaux completed 13 of 25 passes for 84 yards and no touchdowns.
“He’s a pretty good quarterback but overall I don’t think their offense matched up with our defense,” said Angelo Petrides, the Creek junior linebacker who was all over the field. Petrides scooped up a fumble and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown to give the Bruins a 28-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
“It wasn’t just our schemes, it was our desire,” Petrides said. “We got in position to make plays and that led to the outcome today.”
Meanwhile, Bruins freshman quarterback Brady Vodicka, bolstered by a solid running game and solid play from his offensive line, displayed his own skills, throwing for 166 yards and rushing for 30 more.
“We had a great week of practice, and the amount of extra stuff I did off the field, watching film and stuff, definitely helped a lot coming into this game,” Vodicka said.
As for any hype surrounding a playoff showdown featuring two freshman quarterbacks, Vodicka said: “That’s just background noise. You just have to play your game.”
Creek coach Dave Logan, though less than pleased with some sloppy play by his offense, said his team took another step forward.
“I thought we played hard and played spirited,” Logan said. “Our defense played well and I like how we ran to the ball. But I don’t think the final score is indicative of what a hard, physical game this was.”
Although the 14-0 score didn’t accurately reflect it, Cherry Creek dominated the first half in nearly every facet. The Bruins outgained ThunderRidge 237-37.
Creek’s mistakes — a slew of penalties, two fumbles (one lost) and a muffed punt — short-circuited its offense. But two big plays — one expected, one a surprise — put the Bruins on the scoreboard. Late in the first quarter, Vodicka wound up and threw deep downfield where Ismael Cisse made a brilliant diving catch for a 42-yard gain to the ThunderRidge 10.
On fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line, junior Jordan Herron took a misdirection handoff and danced into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Creek extended the lead to 14-0 through a twist of fate. Vodicka had to depart the game for one play when his helmet was knocked off during his 1-yard run up the middle. So Brian Rudden, the backup senior quarterback, came in for one snap and threw a 53-yard TD pass to Cisse, who caught the deep ball between two Grizzlies defenders, who knocked each other down, allowing Cisse to cruise into the end zone.
“My thing is, when the ball is in the air, it’s mine, I don’t care how many people are on me,” Cisse said. “Backup quarterback, starting quarterback, it doesn’t matter. You throw me the rock and I’m going to catch it.”
Creek’s defense set up its third score. The Grizzlies’ Cole Hanchett had a nice 11-yard run but linebacker Logan Brantley stripped him of the ball and Jake Howell recovered at the ThunderRidge 29. Four plays and a Grizzlies’ personal-foul penalty later, Arion Boyd bulldozed in from the 1-yard line.
Late in the third quarter, Carlson “Bubba” Tann (11 carries for 122 yards) busted up the middle for a 37-yard TD run, and Herron scooted for a 20-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to make it 42-0 and set the running clock in motion.
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