No. 9 Cherokee Trail football strikes fast to beat No. 24 Fountain-Fort Carson in 5A playoffs

Cherokee Trail Fountain-Fort Carson football

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

AURORA — Two touchdowns in less than four minutes in the second quarter pretty much summed up the quick-strike ability of Cherokee Trail.

In a first-round game of the Class 5A state football playoffs, the No. 9 Cougars displayed the versatile offense they've touted  all year and beat No. 24 Fountain-Fort Carson 35-17 at Legacy Stadium.

The Trojans (3-8 overall) won the opening coin toss and decided to put the ball in the hands of Jayden Lavigne and the Cougars offense.

And that was fine with the home team. In just over four minutes, the Cougars (8-3) marched down the field and punched the ball in the end zone on an eight-yard run from Julian Williams, his first of four touchdown runs on the night.

"We didn't want to overlook this game," Williams said. "If we do, it could be our last game of the season so we were focused and determined."

Cherokee Trail Fountain-Fort Carson football

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

FFC's offense started a tad timid on its opening drive, but after getting new life thanks to a couple of penalties, found themselves in the red zone with a chance to even the score.

But the Cougars' defense clamped down and the Trojans had to settle for a 33-yard field goal from Gaheris Owen.

Cherokee Trail was fine giving up field goals as long as they were scoring touchdowns. Williams scored his second touchdown of the night to increase the lead to 14-3 and four minutes later, Lavigne found Kaden Bing for a 29-yard touchdown pass.

The Trojans had one more shot to get on the board before halftime, but after reaching the red zone, the offense again stalled.

Owen attempted his second field goal of the night from 27 yards away, but pushed it just right of his target.

"Against a good team like that, you can't get behind them," FFC coach Jake Novotny said. 

In the second half, the Cougars picked up right where they left off. Williams found the end zone two more times to bring his total to four on the night.

"The running game is always important," Williams said. "I'm happy I was able to contribute to the running game tonight. The passing game was on too. I just got down there and ran in a few short ones."

Late in the third quarter and into the fourth, the Trojans put together their best drive of the game and finally found some much-needed offensive rhythm.

The drive was capped with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Wyatt Price to Treshawn Taylor. Price added a 54-yard touchdown toss to Kobe Hardin before the game ended, as the Trojans did their best to battle to the end.

"It's what we teach them every day," Novotny said. "Never quit. Never give up. This has been a season that's been tough a little bit and they've been doing that all year and I'm proud of them.

Cherokee Trail now has the task of slowing down Fairview quarterback Aidan Atkinson in next week's matchup. Cougars coach Joe Johnson has been doing this a long time so he knows that even though playoff wins are nice and well-earned, they'll come to an end if the work for the next one doesn't begin right away.

"We'll get right to work on Sunday," he said.

It's all he needed to say. He has no intention of letting his season end earlier than it needs to so he and the Cougars have no time around and wait. They're ready to go right back to work.

Cherokee Trail Fountain-Fort Carson football

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)