Perhaps itâ€™s a good thing for Pueblo South that the Colts have not faced Broomfield yet this season. The Eagles are amidst an epic revenge tour and appear fueled to settle the score with any team to which they have previously fallen.
After clobbering second-seeded Windsor 31-0 in the first round, the No. 15 Eagles pulled off another stunner in the quarterfinals by dispatching previously unbeaten Loveland 28-27 in overtime. Both teams had beaten the Eagles in the regular season.
â€œOur kids, their backs were against the wall after we lost to Loveland in Week 6,â€ Broomfield coach Blair Hubbard said on The Scoreboard Show. â€œWe were sitting at 2-4 and from that point on every game was a playoff game. . . . We had the opportunity to sneak into the playoffs, we win two games here, and now we get to go on the road to Pueblo South.â€
Pueblo South poses a different type of challenge in that the Colts are something of a stranger to Broomfield. What the Eagles know is that the Colts (11-1) routed Vista Ridge 35-14 in the quarterfinals, are a wild double-overtime loss to fellow semifinalist Pueblo West away from being undefeated and have not lost in eight games at Dutch Clark Stadium this season.
Broomfield (8-4) surrendered a touchdown to Loveland to start the overtime session, but a strong edge rush from Tanner Garner forced the Indians to miss the extra point. Mitchell Gorman then scored on a two-yard run for the Eagles, and freshman Matthew Eich drilled the winning extra point. Loveland called a timeout in hopes of icing Eich, who hasnâ€™t missed a point-after all season.
Things were much less dramatic for Pueblo South, which darted to a 28-0 halftime lead at Vista Ridge. Marcell Barbee caught three touchdowns, which elevated quarterback Zach Cozzolinoâ€™s passing-TD total to a mind-boggling 44 this season.
Pine Creek and Pueblo West will meet in the other semifinal in a rematch of Pine Creekâ€™s 21-14 home win in Week 6. That continues to be the lone blemish in Pueblo Westâ€™s season, but this time, the Cyclones (11-1) will have the luxury of facing the Eagles on their home turf.
The fourth-seeded Cyclones advanced to the semis by virtue of a 24-21 win over No. 5 Chatfield. Pueblo West trailed 14-7 at the half, but two scoring runs by Pierre Taylor fueled a 17-0 burst to start the second half and the Cyclones hung on at Jeffco Stadium.
â€œTalk about just standing in the middle of the ring and slugging it out,â€ Pueblo West coach Monte Pinkerton said on The Scoreboard Show. â€œThatâ€™s what we live for and it worked in our favor today. This one felt like a semifinal or even a championship game, but the seeding is what it is and you have to play them when they show up.â€
Thatâ€™s not to say facing Pine Creek, the 4A champ in 2013, 2014 and last season, wonâ€™t produce the same type of feeling. The Eagles handled Rampart 29-7 in the quarterfinals despite spotting the Rams an early lead. Derek Moore rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown, and Wyatt Wieland caught a 61-yard scoring pass from quarterback J.C. Coulter.
â€œWe have a lot of respect for coach (Todd) Miller and the Pine Creek program,â€ Pinkerton said. â€œItâ€™s a challenge we were hoping would happen and we look forward to that.â€
Hereâ€™s a look at each of the semifinals:
No. 4 Pueblo West (11-1) at No. 1 Pine Creek (11-1)
1 p.m., Saturday
Pierre Taylor hashed rushed for 1,732 yards and 23 touchdowns to lead Pueblo West, which averages a hefty 331 yards per game on the ground. What makes those numbers more remarkable is that Taylor began the season as a backup. Devyn Morgan rushed for 555 yards in the Cyclonesâ€™ first four games but was injured in that contest, which thrust Taylor into the role. Heâ€™s topped the 100-yard mark in nine straight games, including a season-best 307 in a first-round win against Standley Lake. Six-foot-5 Jacob Wilkinson, who has split time at quarterback this season, has added 678 yards on the ground and nine TDs. . . . Pine Creekâ€™s Derek Moore has followed his marvelous freshman season with a sterling sophomore campaign that consists of 1,576 rushing yards and 20 TDs. Quarterback JC Coulter has added 15 TD passes, including eight to Wyatt Wieland. Sam Miller leads the Eagles with 78 total tackles while Isaak Rolfe has produced a whopping 15 tackles for a loss. The Eagles have intercepted 17 passes this season, including six by Xavier Hill. The Eagles are not only seeking their fourth title in five seasons, but their fifth trip to the championship since 2011.
No. 15 Broomfield (8-4) at No. 6 Pueblo South (11-1)
1 p.m., Saturday
Broomfield is seeking its second consecutive appearance in the championship game. The Eagles fell to Pine Creek 36-14 at Sports Authority Field last season. Quarterback Steven Croell hasnâ€™t had as good of a statistical season as last year, when he threw 22 touchdowns and only five interceptions, but the junior has the Eagles right back on the doorstep. Broomfield produced only 134 yards of total offense in the win against Loveland, but the Eagles defense limited the Indians and explosive back Zach Wienmaster to a reasonable 257 total yards. . . . Adding further credence to Zach Cozzolinoâ€™s 44 touchdown passes are the miniscule amount of interceptions heâ€™s thrown in his 249 pass attempts â€“ six. The senior needs only 51 yards to surpass 3,000 for the season. Cozzolinoâ€™s primary targets have been Marcell Barbee (21 TD receptions) and Thomas Pannunzio (13). Steve Brock, meanwhile, has rushed for 1,532 yards and 15 more scores. With all that production, it should serve as no surprise that the Colts average 44.3 points per game. Pueblo South has ascended to loftier heights this season after losing in the first round each of the past two seasons. Last season, they fell to 42-10 to Pine Creek in the opening round.
NOTE:Â Both games are scheduled to be available through a live video stream at www.nfhsnetwork.com.Â Â