HIGHLANDS RANCH— No Gavin Sawchuk, no problem. Without the best footballer in the state, Valor Christian blew down Cherokee Trail to a 49-14 win in the first round of the CHSAA 5A playoffs.
The Eagles were powered by Sawchuk’s backup, junior Zachary Wiley who scored four touchdowns in the first half. Wiley, along with a few long bombs from senior Sean McNair to junior Grant Simmons, gave the Eagles enough offense.
“Coach gave me the opportunity to go out and show what I have,” said Wiley. “I should definitely give credit to the great men beforehand.”
Wiley found out he would start on Tuesday. This season he entered the competition with less than 40 carriers. In the first half alone, he had 18 carriers for 82 yards.
“I’ve been preparing for this,” Wiley said. “It gives energy to score four touchdowns. I like the game. “
Wiley finished the race at 106 yards and finished his evening early when Valor Christian’s second unit arrived. Although they had to kick once, they continued the flight. Sawchuk’s little brother, freshman Gabe Sawchuk, got his first high school touch and made the most of it. He eventually scored a touchdown in his debut, pounding in a 15-yard run as part of his 86 yards on 11 rushes.
“It’s not one person with this team,” said head coach Donnie Yantis. “We played physically and Wiley has been working his tail off since we started in June. I had no doubts he would do well. “
Valor Christian Junior Andrew Hale had an interception and some big pass break-ups to stop the Cougars attack.
“It’s just an anonymous adversary,” said Yantis. “No matter who we play, I’ll be honest with you, it’s one of those things where I tell our boys, we’ll watch the movie and get ready and no matter who we play we are not focused on an individual on the opponent, we are only focused on us. “
As for Gavin Sawchuk, no reason was given for his absence and no indication was given as to whether he will play in the next round.