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Jaguar football will play in 2A state playoffs

Despite loss, Jaguar football will play in 2A state playoffs
Posted on 10/31/2018
This is the image for the news article titled Despite loss, Jaguar football will play in 2A state playoffsDespite loss, Jaguar football will play in 2A state playoffs

By Rich Allen

For the Courier

LAKEWOOD — The D’Evelyn football team may not have clinched the 2A Frontier League title, but the CHSAA tournament still awaits it.

The Jaguars could have saved themselves some stress and blood pressure by beating Faith Christian High School in their winner-take-all regular season finale on Friday at Trailblazer Stadium. Instead, they lost a 21-7 defensive battle and had to wait to see if they earned a selection. Two days later, they were relieved.

CHSAA awarded them the No. 14 in the 2A state playoffs, sending them to play Basalt on Friday. The Jaguars won’t be the favorites against the No. 3 Longhorns, but that might just be how they like it.

“We’ve been the underdogs all year,” senior quarterback Evan Willis said. “I let our record speak for itself. Nobody’s given us any respect across the state the entire year. I wouldn’t want to be one of the top teams in Colorado if we sneak in.”

D’Evelyn totes a 7-2 regular-season record on its resume but has something more to prove than just wins and losses. In its four games against winning teams on the schedule, the Jaguars went 2-2 and were outscored 53-37.

They lost both games against their fellow playoff-bound schools, 10-seed Eaton and Faith Christian, who was placed No. 9 after earning its third straight Frontier League title.

That isn’t quelling the confidence of the Jaguars, who believe they can hang with the best the state has to offer. Willis credited his wide receivers as some of the most athletic in the state, and they allowed him to reach the second most yards in 2A with 1,840 in 198 attempts.

But what stands out more is their defense, whose 109 points allowed on the season is the eighth best in 2A. Inside linebackers Brady Sullivan and Noah Miles rank No. 5 and 10 in the state in tackles, respectively. Jake Braun is 10th in sacks with 6.5.

Collectively, the group held Faith Christian, the fourth best offense in the state by total points, to only three scores.

“We knew we had a good game plan,” said D’Evelyn head coach Jeremy Bennett. “We knew that our defense would play hard. It is two good defenses, two underrated defenses in the state.”

D’Evelyn kept Faith Christian off the score sheet for the first quarter. It only scored once in the first half on a passing play that collapsed, allowing Faith Christian quarterback Isaiah Kroll to scramble 24 yards to the end zone.

Kroll scored another rushing touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, and Jordan Abbott turned a corner on a first-and-goal to round out the Eagles’ scoring plays.

The Jaguars’ only score came one minute into the second half, as Willis found Daniel Brady open on the left side for a 78-yard completion. Willis was 15-for-26 for 264 yards.

D’Evelyn’s performance against a playoff team did not help it in the standings, but it competed at a level that boosted the team’s confidence.

Now, the Jaguars get a few weeks of practice, repairs and preparation before their biggest test yet in Basalt, which allowed the fewest points against any 2A program in the regular season. To win, they’ll need to elevate their level of play on both sides of the ball, but they aren’t backing down.

“No one gives us any chance, and we like that. We’ll bang with anybody, that’s for sure,” Bennett said.