Purchase shines as Cherry Creek downs Valor Christian for 5A football title

PUEBLO — At times, it looks like Myles Purchase is just playing a different game than everyone else on the field. Conventional wisdom says when a ball carrier runs into a wall of defenders, the wall tends to win.

Unless Purchase is the ball carrier. He broke away from a horde of Valor Christian defenders to scamper into the end zone putting his Cherry Creek Bruins up two touchdowns.

That was more than enough as Creek rolled to a 21-0 win to claim the Class 5A state football championship, its 11th overall football title and its second in as many years.

"You never know what's going to happen in the flow of the game," Purchase said. "I was just happy was put into a position to play and make plays."

Valor Christian Cherry Creek football

More photos from the game. (PaulDiSalvoPhotography.com)

The thing about this Cherry Creek team is it might have put on display the single best grouping of talent in a long time. Purchase will play his college football at Iowa State. Quarterback Julian Hammond and receiver Chase Penry will both head to Boulder, Hammond to play basketball and Penry to play football.

"I think this is the most talented team I've seen in a while," Hammond said. "I would put our team against any team out there. I believe in everyone."

Overall, Cherry Creek has five Division I football commits with Al Ashford III heading to Wisconsin, Gunnar Helm going to Texas and Gus Zilinskas bound for Rutgers.

The CU duo connected for a 33-yard touchdown pass to put the Bruins (9-0 overall) up 21-0 which was more than enough of a lead for Creek to work with.

Commitments don't win state championships however and Purchase made that clear early in the game. Out of a wildcat formation, he ran for Cherry Creek's first two touchdowns of the game and recovered a ball stripped way from Valor running back Zach Wiley.

The Eagles (7-1) were hoping to ride their high-tempo offense through junior standout back Gavin Sawchuk, but Creek's early scores combined with its unrelenting defense made it difficult for Valor to find any rhythm.

Sawchuk broke for a 57-yard run early in the third quarter, appearing to put a crack in the dam but Creek once again dialed up the defensive intensity, getting a hit on Valor quarterback Sean McNair and forcing the second turnover of the night.

They got a third off a Purchase interception, but were only on defense because he himself had been picked off two plays earlier.

"(Hammond) talked a little bit after that," Purchase said with a laugh. "It was all playful and was able to get it back."

The Eagles did adjust accordingly on the defensive side of the ball, holding James Walker to just nine rushing yards in the third quarter.

But they had to offense to counter. Outside of Sawchuk's long run, the Eagles couldn't find a way to move the ball down field and get into striking distance. After spotting the Bruins three early touchdowns, there was no bouncing back.

Creek, meanwhile, seemed content running out clock as confidence in the defense's ability to shut down the Eagles. It was a quality that made this team so special in a year where no one knew if they'd get a chance to tell a special story on the field.

"This is a hard-working group that loves football," Cherry Creek coach Dave Logan. "This was the most unique of seasons. Everybody's practices were different. We couldn't work ones versus ones, we had to work in pods. There were a lot of teams that I was proud, not just of my teams but of other teams around the state, that they were able to get accomplished."

This is the ninth state championship for Logan as a coach, putting him just one behind legendary Limon coach Lloyd Gaskill who has the most in state history with 10.

Cherry Creek Valor Christian football

More photos from the game. (PaulDiSalvoPhotography.com)

Cherry Creek Valor Christian football

More photos from the game. (Ray Chen/ArrayPhoto.com)