AURORA — Shawn Marsh and Corey Heinz likely told their teams the same thing, but from two different perspectives prior to Friday's Class 5A football playoff opener.
Anything can happen.
That came to fruition quicker than most people thought. Eaglecrest scored on two of their first three offensive plays and held off a gritty second-half performance from Legacy running back Dakota Key to get a 34-31 win and advance to the second round of the state tournament.
"They have a really good coaching staff," Marsh said of the Lightning. "They really do. And they have 13 sophomores out there. Coach (Heinz) does a really good job with a young team."
Marsh just needed to be a little bit better with his veterans. Things got going quick for the Raptors (8-3 overall) as David Creal broke for a 56-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the game and the second overall play for Eaglecrest.
The Lightning (3-8) answered thanks to a muffed punt, setting up a drive deep in Eaglecrest territory. Key got into the end zone from four yards out and Legacy had a 7-6 lead thanks to Eaglecrest's missed extra point on its touchdown.
But on the very next offensive play for the Raptors, Langston Williams made the first of several big plays on the night. He caught an 80-yard touchdown pass, showing off a little bit of that speed that won him the 400-meter dash at last spring's state track meet.
He knew he had to draw on that level of a performance in a playoff football atmosphere, especially against a Legacy team that Eaglecrest had narrowly beaten earlier in the year.
"That was a tough battle," Williams said. "We've been practicing hard this week. We've had some bumps in the road but we battled through. We didn't come out like we expected but we fought."
Williams added an interception to his performance in the second quarter which helped the Raptors increase their lead to 10 points at halftime, but to start the second half it was the Lightning scoring in a flash. It took less than a minute for Legacy to march down the field thanks to Key ripping off big run after big run.
Adarius Edwards eventually scored on a sneak play to cut the lead to three. Eaglecrest quarterback Max Marsh was intercepted by Michael McCarty and that turnover led to Key's second rushing touchdown of the game.
"Anytime you make a team change what they normally do, you think you have a good chance," Heinz said. "We made them change and they kind of got out of character for them for a minute and we've kind of had them on the ropes and we felt pretty good about it."
Key's touchdown gave the Lightning a 31-27 lead, but it didn't hold up as Creal found the end zone with 1:14 left in the third to go up 34-31.
Legacy had a chance to get the tying points on the board but Henry Walter's 50-yard field goal attempt was just off the mark. With one last effort, Edwards took to the air, but was picked off again by Williams to wrap up the win for Legacy.
"Football is an up and down game," Max Marsh said. "You go through the hills and valleys and so we started high but we just couldn't get things clicking and they could towards the end. But we finished and I'm proud of my team."
The Raptors will face rival Grandview next week. Grandview edged Eaglecrest by three points earlier in the season.