DENVER – There was a point in the second half of the game where Broomfield quarterback Cole LaCrue could barely walk. But a sprained ankle wasn’t going to slow him down and him leaving the field was never an option.
He wanted to be out there for every second of Broomfield’s 24-14 win over Loveland to capture the Class 4A football championship, the first championship for the program since 1984.
“I told Coach (Blair Hubbard) that he would have to rip all this (stuff) off me before I came out,” LaCrue said. “There was no way I was coming out.”
Through the entire season, which includes Broomfield’s three playoff wins, LaCrue has shown his competitive fire and with arguably the greatest accomplishment of his football career on the line he had to be there for it.
This is a journey that has been three years in the making and through the course of it, he has been dealt some heartbreaking blows. It started with the death of his father two years ago. He received playing time as a sophomore and helped the Eagles (14-0 overall) reach the playoffs, but they lost in the first round to Longmont.
But he had also made Hubbard a promise that he would deliver a state title to the Eagles. Considering Hubbard had the foresight to go with LaCrue as a sophomore, it was the best gift the University of Wisconsin commit to give him before he graduated.
“Coach Hubbard took a chance on me my sophomore year,” LaCrue said. “I’m so happy I could do this for him.”
The game didn’t start the way the Eagles had hoped. Brent Harris fumbled on the first play game putting the ball into the hands of the Red Wolves (12-2) and quarterback Garrett Harstad. As a sophomore, Harstad led Loveland to the 4A title and didn’t attempt a single pass in the win over Palmer Ridge.
But facing a 3rd and 21, Harstad had to throw his first pass of the day which resulted in an interception. The Eagles took advantage, driving down the field where LaCrue rushed for a touchdown, one of his two rushing scores of the day. What could have been a disastrous turn of events with the fumble ended up going the Eagles’ way.
“Last week’s game was a lot of adversity we had to overcome and we talked about that this week,” Hubbard said. “We knew we were going to face some adversity and had to be ready to overcome it.”
They saw their share of it through the course of the game but never got discouraged. LaCrue threw two interceptions as he completed 15 of 25 passes for 223 yards.
He scored two rushing touchdowns with the third touchdown going to Canon Juarez, who won Most Outstanding Player honors.
“We had a mentality coming into this game and that was to be a BAMF,” Juarez said. “I won’t say it because it has a couple cuss words.”
He didn’t have to say it with words because the play of the Eagles spelled it out for everyone. Defensively, they bottled up Harstad in the first half with sound gap assignments and great containment on the outside.
“It was a lot of film by our defensive staff,” Hubbard said. “Playing Loveland, you have to find those open gaps and you have to find the ball carrier. Our defense did a really good job.”
They held the Red Wolves to 192 total offensive yards. Harstad and Drew Foley each scored rushing touchdowns.
On the flip side, the Eagles had 364 yards of total offense. It was a good day on both sides of the ball for the Eagles. And when the final seconds ran off the clock LaCrue hurled the ball towards the stands and hugged his teammates before a wave of emotion overtook him.
Fighting through tears, he assessed his entire journey through high school football while trying to explain how much it meant to him.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” LaCrue said. “It was for my dad right there, me and (my little brother) Ty. I told Coach Hubbard I was going to win him a state championship and I’m happy I could fulfill that promise.”