Broomfield has gone from afterthought to potentially the biggest bracket-buster of them all in the Class 4A football playoffs.
After a fairly unexpected trip to the state championship game last season, the Eagles started 2-4 this year. It would have been easy to chalk it up to a transitional season, as even coach Blair Hubbard admitted in the preseason that the Eagles were seeking ways to compensate for several key graduation losses.
The Eagles had to win their final four games of the regular season simply to sneak into the playoffs, and doing so as a No. 15 seed was a victory in itself.
Then came the shocker.
The Eagles went on the road and walloped second-seeded Windsor. It wasnâ€™t merely a 15-over-2 upset â€“ it was a complete dismantling as Broomfield triumphed 31-0. What made it more remarkable is that Windsor had clobbered Broomfield 40-14 in Week 3 of the regular season, on the Eaglesâ€™ home turf nonetheless.
Like last season, the Eagles (7-4) are peaking at playoff time and are something of an enigma. Just how good are these Eagles? Weâ€™ll find out in the quarterfinals, when they take on undefeated Loveland.
It wasnâ€™t the only upset of the first-round, as No. 14 Vista Ridge edged No. 6 Fruita Monument, which entered the contest unbeaten.
More on both of those upsets and a look ahead to all four quarterfinal matchups here, in bracket order:
No. 8 Rampart at No. 1 Pine Creek (7 p.m., Friday)
Like Broomfield, Rampart also succeeded in a revenge game to reach the quarterfinals. The Rams had lost to Monarch 14-7 in the regular season, but they turned the tables on the Coyotes with a 24-14 payback victory. Rampart (9-2) scored 10 points in the final quarter to pull ahead in a 14-14 game, with quarterback Keion Crossâ€™ 41-yard scoring run providing the finishing touch. Jared Behm rushed for 153 yards â€“ including a 90-yard touchdown â€“ and Cross added 103 for the Rams.
Pine Creek (10-1), meanwhile, chugged along like usual in a 34-0 first-round shellacking of No. 16 Golden. In quest of their second straight 4A crown and fourth in five seasons, the Eagles got 216 rushing yards and three TDs from sophomore Derek Moore, and quarterback JC Coulter was smoothly efficient (10-for-15, 151 yards, one TD). Wyatt Wieland caught seven passes for 108 yards and was on the receiving end of Coulterâ€™s lone TD pass.
No. 5 Chatfield at No. 4 Pueblo West (1 p.m., Saturday)
This one might be more fitting of a semifinal or championship game, as one upper-echelon team will be forced to go home early. Chatfield (10-1) has reeled off 10 straight wins and appeared unstoppable in a 61-22 first-round drubbing of Skyline. The Chargers exploded for five first-quarter touchdowns â€“ the first three from Ben Frenette â€“ and put a lid on explosive runner Jeremy Hollingsworth, who was limited to 14 yards on the ground. Cole Ingersoll, meanwhile, racked up 183 yards on a mere five touches (three carries, two receptions).
Pueblo West was equally dominant, if not more so, in a 49-3 win against Standley Lake. The Cyclones (10-1) blanked the Gators 33-0 after intermission and received a monster 307-yard, three-touchdown performance from running back Pierre Taylor. The senior now has rushed for 1,597 yards on the season. His output was part of a 504-yard ground assault by the Cyclones, who did not complete a single pass. Sophomore Matt Rudd added three rushing touchdowns for Pueblo West, which has lost only to Pine Creek this season.
No. 6 Pueblo South at No. 14 Vista Ridge (1 p.m., Saturday)
If not for Broomfieldâ€™s heroics, Vista Ridgeâ€™s wild win over previously unbeaten Fruita Monument might have been the surprise of the week. The Wolves (7-4) darted to a 13-point halftime lead then held on to narrowly escape the Western Slope with a win. Quarterback Rowan Neal threw for three touchdowns and rushed for 102 yards and another score, and running back Jeffrey Crittendon added 117 yards on the ground. In a contest that featured 997 yards of total offense, the Wolves narrowly fended off the Wildcatsâ€™ late comeback attempt.
Pueblo South won its eighth straight by comfortably defeating a solid Montrose squad 41-7. The Colts (10-1) got 211 yards on the ground and four touchdowns from Steve Brock while quarterback Zach Cozzolino threw for 286 yards and a pair of TDs. The Colts led 21-0 at the break and cruised from there despite yielding nearly 300 rushing yards to the Indians. Pueblo South is a wild 55-54 double-overtime loss to Pueblo West away from being undefeated.
No. 7 Loveland at No. 15 Broomfield (1 p.m., Saturday)
While Broomfieldâ€™s unforeseen shutout of Windsor garnered many of the headlines in the first round, Loveland quietly dispatched No. 10 Ponderosa in equally expeditious fashion. The Indians (11-0) rocketed to a 31-6 win on the strength of a 194-yard rushing day from Zach Weinmaster, who found the end zone three times. Lovelandâ€™s Isaiah Meyers also picked off Ponderosaâ€™s Sterling Ostdahl three times to lead the defensive charge.
The teams met in Week 6 and played a down-to-the-wire contest with Loveland earning a 28-21 win. It proved to the last loss for Broomfield, which darted to a 24-0 halftime lead against Windsor. Junior quarterback Steven Croell threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more, and the Eagles racked up 249 yards on the ground overall.