GREENWOOD VILLAGE — Cherry Creek coach Dave Logan pointed it out very nicely when describing the climate of the Class 5A football playoffs.
Nothing is going to come easy.
While the score might indicate it wasn't difficult, Cherry Creek's 29-6 win over Regis Jesuit was hard-fought and well-earned. The win puts the Bruins into next week's 5A semifinals as they continue their quest to defend last year's state championship win.
"When the playoffs have only eight teams, all eight teams are good teams," Logan said. "We've had some games this year where teams have basically given the game away. What you have to do is prepare your kids the best you can that when you get to the final eight that you're playing good teams that are not going to give the game away."
The Bruins (7-0 overall) got on the board early thanks to a 49-yard completion from Julian Hammond to Chase Penry which set up a four-yard James Walker rushing touchdown. Walker added a second rushing touchdown in the first half, breaking for 96 yards to get Cherry Creek up by two scores.
"It was a huge performance in that first half," Walker said. "It was a huge performance on the line's part, a huge performance on the defense's part, we had some big time players making some big time plays."
The Raiders (5-2) battled to get into striking distance late in the second quarter, but the offense stalled out inside the 20. Jaden Ohlsen got them on the board with a 26-yard field goal and then the defense stepped up to slow Creek down and give Regis another chance before halftime.
With four seconds on the clock, Ohlsen got a chance at a 48-yard field goal and he connected to cut the Creek lead to 14-6 at halftime.
That was more points than the Creek defense would've like to have given up. The Bruins came out energetic in the second half and focused that energy on shutting down running back David Dody who had amassed 81 all-purpose yards in the first two quarters.
"We adjusted a bit to what they were doing," Logan said. "We've been a good defense all year long and I thought in the first half we didn't play as well as we could have."
The Bruins forced four turnovers in the second half, two coming from interceptions by Myles Purchase. Another rushing touchdown for Walker and a safety had given Creek a 23-6 lead in the fourth quarter, but Regis was intent on driving down the field to get more points on the board.
Purchase ended those hopes when he snatched his second interception and took for six points the other way.
"Regis played a great game," Purchase said. "They took it to us and gave us a taste of our own medicine. We just had to stay poised on the back end. When we stayed poised and stayed patient, we got the stops we needed to make."
This wasn't like most games that Creek had seen this year and although the score might've been tighter than some would have liked, Logan had no problem acknowledging that this game was something his team needed in its quest to claim another state championship.
"It's easy for people for read scores and think it's going to be a cakewalk," he said. "It's not going to be a cakewalk for anybody. When you play good, well-coached teams in the playoffs, you're going to get tested. That's just the way it is."