PUEBLO – Cherry Creek Bruins’ championship season started in hot summer days, in the midst of a pandemic, when playing even one football game seemed so precarious.
Their season culminated with an impressive 21-0 win over Valor Christian Saturday night in the Thunderbowl on the CSU-Pueblo campus.
“The guys were just so dedicated,” said Arden Walker. “We didn’t even know what was going on long ago in the summer. But when we got back together in September, we just looked at each other and knew what we wanted to do. “
Then the Bruins went out and grabbed the copper ring, finishing 9-0 and winning their second straight state championship and 11th overall. Creek beat Columbine 35-10 last season.
“These guys work hard and they love football so much,” said Creek head coach Dave Logan, who has now won nine major state titles in Colorado, with four different schools. “These guys never spit the bit, not once and this was the most unique season. This was very challenging for the children. For all children in Colorado football. I was impressed by it. “
Valor had beaten Creek six times in a row, including winning the 2018 championship game 24-14. But the Bruins’ superior talent was evident Saturday night, and senior Myles Purchase, their “Mr. Everything, ”showed his skills in his last high school game. He rushed for two scores, intercepted a pass, recovered from a fumble, and was named player of the game.
Cherry Creek’s sophisticated offense – professional sets, four wide receivers, the wild formation – was a joy to watch.
Senior quarterback Julian Hammond (who has committed himself as a basketball player to the University of Colorado) led the ship cool. Example: Facing a third and 15 on his own 24, he connected with senior wide receiver Chase Penry for 38 yards and a first down. Five plays later, the pair came in contact for a 33 yards touchdown, and Penry made the pass in the corner of the end zone halfway through the second quarter.
“We just looked at their defense and thought that was the play to go to,” Penry said. “We have worked together for a long time and so we are much on the same page.”
Freshman Valor coach Donnie Yantis was not surprised by the wide variety of formations the Bruins threw at his defense.
“They have a lot of talented players and they’ve done a good job of it,” said Yantis. “They have great staff and they have done a great job, but they have great players. They got me, so that’s up to me and I’ll take it. “
Earlier this week, Bruins defensive coordinator Tom Doherty Puchase called Puchase ‘an electric soccer player’. How right he was. Purchase hit like a bolt of lightning during the seventh game of the game. Working out of the wild formation, Purchase tore off a 44-yard touchdown run to give Creek a 7-0 lead.
Creek’s dominance was evident from the start, so there was no real turning point. But Valor’s chance to control the pace of the game disappeared with their first possession. Powerful junior running back Gavin Sawchuck was churning through the Bruins’ defenses at the time, but Zac Wiley rummaged and Purchase recovered at the Creek 32.
Nine games later, Purchase stopped, restarted, shifted, danced and sprinted for a 12-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
“Those things happen, it’s football, right?” Yantis said. “You have to bounce back from those things a bit and we just couldn’t get things going completely, we were behind the chains a few times. And you get a lower score and it shakes you out of your game plan a bit. “
Despite the loss, Valor’s Sawchuck, a five-star running back considered one of the best running backs in the country, was in beast mode on Saturday night. It took gangs of Bruins defenders to stop him. He finally broke free for a 54-meter center run early in the third quarter, but the Eagles’ best scoring opportunity of the night vanished when Creek fired senior linebacker Malik Majekodunmi Valor quarterback Sean McNair, forcing a fumble. Branden Jackson recovered for Creek at the 31-yard line.
“We knew they were going to give it to (Sawchuck) all the time,” Walker said. “I have the feeling that we have made a pact as a team. We made a pact that we had to find him and that’s basically what we said throughout the game. “