In a year of uncertainty, Boulder Creek football, led by its 2021 senior class, has made history by winning its first region title since 2008. It secured the No. 1 seed in the 6A conference playoffs on its way to the state semifinals.
Led by senior quarterback and New Mexico football commit Bear Milacek and senior running back Jacob Cisneros, the varsity Jaguars won seven-straight games to secure a postseason bid. After losing 36-35 to Casteel in Week 1 of the regular season, Boulder Creek went on a hot streak to knock off region rivals Mountain Ridge and Sandra Day O’Connor, among other opponents, to secure a 7-1 regular season record.
Cisneros ranks fifth in the state in rushing yards on the season with 1,211. With 2,297 yards from scrimmage and 27 total touchdowns on the year, the senior is arguably the most versatile player in the state. Milacek has thrown for 1,063 yards and nine TDs on the year, rushing for an additional 457 yards.
On November 21, the Arizona Interscholastic Association and its conference selection committee released their final rankings with the help of a computer formula in preparation for the postseason. With the help of the computer rankings, Boulder Creek celebrated its No. 1 ranking with a team meal, burritos.
“We rebounded (after the opening week loss) by playing our brand of football and being a family, on and off the field. Making the playoffs felt great,” Milacek said.
“It felt amazing,” Cisneros added. “It felt great leaving our mark on the school’s history, but we knew it wasn’t good enough. We want to be champions. The 2021 class knew we had to step up and lead this team. We had to make sure that everyone was brought in and ready to battle for a state championship.”
Going undefeated in region play, Boulder Creek played eight regular season games over the course of two months as part of a modified fall sports season. On October 30, the Jaguars beat cross-town rival Sandra Day O’Connor, 27-12. Postgame, the team learned it clinched the region title and was most likely on its way to the playoffs.
“It means everything. We have such amazing kids in our program who believe in themselves,” said Justin Simons, JV head coach and varsity assistant coach. “We have had incredible support from our parents, booster club and administration. It has truly been a collective effort.”
The varsity team isn’t the only squad within the program who has succeeded in 2020. After the JV team finished the season 8-0, Simons said, “I am so proud of our JV football team and staff. With all the trials and tribulations that this season has presented, our kids found a way to persevere.”
Head coach Anthony Casarella and Simons have been coaching together since Boulder Creek’s first season in 2005.
“Coach Simons has been a good friend of mine since we started here 15 years ago. He does a great job,” Casarella said.
“We have come so far since then, and all of the hard work over the last 15 years has led to this moment. Our recent success isn’t something that was built overnight,” Simons added. “We have a great relationship. He has always given me the best opportunities to grow as a coach.”
On November 27, the Jaguars took on Shadow Ridge in the 6A quarterfinals, hosting their first playoff game since 2014.
With a final score of 38-22, Boulder Creek advanced to the 6A semifinals with the help of their senior leaders.
“It’s a great win for the program. I couldn’t be more excited,” Casarella said.
The Boulder Creek Jaguars host the Highland Hawks at 7 p.m. Friday, December 4, in the 6A semifinals.