LITTLETON - Heritage got off to the kind of start it hoped to Nov. 7 against cross-town rival Arapahoe.
The No. 28 Eagles were controlling the time of possession, winning the field position battle and forced a turnover against the No. 5 Warriors in the teams’ Class 5A state first round game at Littleton Public Schools Stadium.
A touchdown run by Bryan Carlson late in the second quarter gave Heritage a one-point lead, but on that play, the Eagles’ chances at victory were swept away.
Carlson was hit after the whistle by Arapahoe’s Blake Nelson - who was subsequently ejected for the personal foul and will be suspended for his team’s next game - and left the game with an apparent concussion.
Arapahoe’s offensive line and running back Jose Cancanon took over the game from there. The junior tailback finished with 236 yards on 27 carries and scored five touchdowns as the No. 5 Warriors (8-2) advanced to the round of 16 with a 42-7 victory.
Arapahoe will play at No. 21 Horizon in the next round, likely on Nov. 9.
“It was a pretty physical game,” said Arapahoe tight end Ethan Brunhofer, who had two catches for 31 yards. “We knew if we stuck with the game plan and eliminated the mental errors that we could put some points up on the board.”
Leading 13-7 at halftime, Arapahoe pulled away in the third quarter, as they loaded up with a heavy dose of Cancanon, who scored on runs of 2 and 47 yards to give the Warriors a 28-7 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
Cancanon scored his fifth touchdown of the afternoon with 8:55 to play and cornerback Taden Jones padded the lead with an interception return for a score.
“We knew that (Heritage) was a little thin up front, depth-wise,” Arapahoe coach Mike Campbell said. “It was going to be tough for them to stand up to our line for the entire game. I thought the second half, we really got things going.”
The first half, though, was a different story.
“Heritage is a good team that’s well-coached,” Campbell said. “They came out and dominated field position. Twice we started with the ball inside our 10-yard line. We couldn’t move the ball much in the first half.”
For Heritage, which ends its season with a 4-6 record, the future looks promising.
“It’s always tough to lose, but only one team is happy at the end of the season,” Heritage coach Mike Griebel said. “We’re very excited about the future. Our freshman team finished the year undefeated and we’ve got a lot of talented kids in the program, so the future is bright for us.”
Griebel said that losing the dynamic Carlson (he had 32 yards rushing and 26 passing at the time of the injury) was a crippling blow.
“That changed everything,” Griebel said. “Still, you’ve got to have a plan B and ours wasn’t good enough. Arapahoe made plays, especially in the second half.”
Gus Nemechek had four catches for 106 yards for Heritage, while defensively Nate Novotny had 12 tackles and Jon Wilson added 11.