Cherry Creek and Valor Christian set for 5A football semifinal showdown

Valor Christian Cherry Creek football

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One of the newest and biggest rivalries in recent seasons adds another page to its book Saturday at the Stutler Bowl when Valor Christian takes on Cherry Creek.

The winner of the game will advance to the Class 5A state championship game.

Some background to Saturday's contest, Valor Christian (9-3 overall) won the previous contest against Cherry Creek 42-26 early in the year.

The Eagles knocked off Grandview 66-35 last weekend. The Eagles are 7-0 in semifinal games lifetime and have one playoff loss, which came at the hands of Cherry Creek in the 2014 state championship game.

On the other hand, the Bruins (9-3) and are coming off a 34-17 win over Mullen. This is the third straight year where Cherry Creek and Valor Christian are facing off on Thanksgiving weekend.

Cherry Creek Valor Christian football

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The series between the two teams are even on this weekend, Cherry Creek winning the state championship in 2014, and Valor Christian winning in 2015 and eventually beating Pomona to take last year's state title.

Both teams' road to get to this point have been vastly different. Cherry Creek has had to deal with banged up players all year long but showed last week that it will not be defined by its injuries.

Valor Christian has rode the star power of the Dylan and Luke McCaffrey, Joshia Davis, Blake Stenstrom and Noah Ellis. Both teams were doubted for their play early in the season though after Valor Christian got off to a rough 1-3 start, and Cherry Creek with a 2-3 start. both teams bounced back in league play and proved that they cannot be counted out when the postseason begins.

"We have to lay it all out on the field," quarterback Trey Windham said. "(We cannot) have any regrets."

And that's been a Cherry Creek mindset all playoffs. Although the Bruins are the underdog on paper, the players believe they are just as good as the Eagles.

"We're feeling really good going into this game," two-way man Trevor Brown said. "We are a completely different team (now)."

These teams recognize the significance of getting to play on Thanksgiving and Cherry Creek is not immune to that.

"It's a huge honor (playing on Thanksgiving)," Brown said. "It's very humbling to be one of the two teams who have practiced on Thanksgiving the past three years. We take this honor very seriously as a team and look forward to capitalizing on this opportunity."

The winner will get the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong goal, but neither team can afford to look past this season. This 5A semifinal game will kick off at 1 p.m. at the Stutler Bowl and can be seen live on the NFHS Network.