When Broomfield underwent a coaching change after last season, landing in the championship game wasn’t the first thing that came to mind.
After 28-year front man Gary Davies retired, the Eagles were seeking someone who could maintain the Eagles’ winning tradition without having to endure an initial drop off. But new coach Blair Hubbard skipped the learning curve.
The former longtime Faith Christian coach, who spent the previous two years at Lutheran, has guided the Eagles to the Class 4A championship game in his first season at the helm. The Eagles, in the title game for the first time since 2001 and seeking their first championship since 1984, will take on classification stalwart Pine Creek (11 a.m., Saturday, Sports Authority Field).
“I have to give a lot of credit to our seniors because they embraced the change, they embraced the newness,” Hubbard said. “They were hungry for some new things. They had a lot of respect for Coach Davies, who was there for a long time, but they wanted something new. For them to immediately trust what we were doing paid a lot of dividends.”
With a ground attack led by senior Jalon Torres, a passing game thriving with sophomore quarterback Steven Croell and top receiver Ryan Mazzola, and a beastly defense led by nose tackle Jaxon Pallone, Broomfield (11-2) has won six straight. The Eagles have dispatched Heritage, Ponderosa and defending-champion Windsor in the playoffs.
Hubbard’s message is simple. Don’t change a thing.
“We want to keep everything as consistent as possible with this,” said Hubbard, who won three state championships at Faith Christian. “We encouraged them to enjoy the moment and try to avoid a lot of external distractions. Really what it comes down to is we’re going to play a football game on Saturday. We’re going to get on our yellow school bus and come down and play a game against a tough team.”
He’s got that right. Pine Creek (11-2) is appearing in the title game for the fourth time in six seasons and took home the championship hardware in 2013 and 2014. The Eagles are big, physical and have a standout quarterback in senior Brock Dohmann.
Pine Creek appeared to be steamrolling toward a third straight title last season, but was upset by Loveland in the semifinals. That vanquished a 37-game winning streak. That experience, combined with an opening loss to Chatfield, caused the Eagles to take a deep breath and a step back.
“It’s about what you’re doing in that moment, and we kind of went back to those basics,” Pine Creek coach Todd Miller said. “Let’s win in the weight room, let’s win in conditioning and let’s win on the practice field. You try to get those little victories so when you step on the field, it seems easy.”
The Eagles have made it look easy in reeling off 10 straight wins, including postseason triumphs over Pueblo South, Greeley West and Chatfield. The latter, a 28-14 win, avenged the 50-39 loss to the Chargers in the opener.
In addition to Domann, the Eagles are led by freshman running back David Moore III, receiver Peter Isais and top tackler Zachary Leithead. After a near-miss last year, Pine Creek is delighted to be back in the spotlight. But the Eagles aren’t viewing it from that perspective.
“We’re not trying to worry about playing in a big stadium and on television,” Miller said. “All of that will take care of itself and we can’t control that. But we can control our attitude and control our effort.”
Class 4A Championship Game
(5) Broomfield vs. (3) Pine Creek
Where: Sports Authority Field
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Records: Broomfield 11-2; Pine Creek 11-2
Coaches: Blair Hubbard, Broomfield; Todd Miller, Pine Creek
Notes: Broomfield is making its seventh appearance in the championship game and first since a 7-3 loss to ThunderRidge in 2001. The Eagles won it all in 1981, 1983 and 1984, the first two against Loveland and the latter against Longmont. . . . Pine Creek is making its sixth title game appearance, all within the past six seasons. After losing to Valor Christian in 2011, the Eagles defeated Montrose in 2013 and Longmont in 2014. . . . The teams have opposed each other in the playoffs only one time. That was a 28-7 Pine Creek win in the 2008 first round. . . . Each team possesses a 1,300-yard back, Broomfield with Jalon Torres and Pine Creek with David Moore III. . . . Pine Creek quarterback Brock Domann (25 touchdowns, six interceptions) and Broomfield’s Steven Croell (21 TDs, four picks) boast lofty TD-interception splits.