5A FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW

5A Football Championship Preview
Eaglecrest and Pomona collide for the 5A State Football Championship this Saturday. The Raptors are in the championship game for the first time since 1993 while the Panthers are in the game for a third consecutive season. Both seek their second football crown in school history.

And so it has come to this – Class 5A’s 2017 season will have its championship decided between undefeated Eaglecrest, playing for a title for the first time since 1993, and Pomona, which is here for the third year in a row.

No longtime title owners. No Valor Christian. No Cherry Creek. No Mullen. No Columbine. No, only two programs with one title each (see below). The most-glaring and obvious familiarity is that it’s once again schools from both the Centennial and Jefferson County leagues (before these two years of the ridiculous waterfall outlay) to determine Colorado’s most-coveted football title.

Check the record. Since 1992, this is the eighth time the two groups have squared off for the big-school championship, third in a row. In addition, there have been six all-Centennial matchups over the span as well as three all-Jeffco finals, so there’s no question about dominance.

Below is some of what you need to know before the two get going on Saturday2:30 p.m., at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium to enhance your viewing pleasure:

 

Eaglecrest (13-0) vs. Pomona (11-2)

The Raptors of Centennial are here for just a second time. They won the 1993 championship (5A in a 6A system) at 14-0 behind a brilliant junior season by RB Damian Brown and it was the first season for now Pomona head coach Jay Madden, who began at Alameda . … Pomona won the 1988 4A (big-school) championship and has been second in 1983, 1986, 1992, 2009, 2015 and 2016. … The Panthers are in a third-straight title game among big schools and are the first public school to do it since the great Darnell McDonald and Cherry Creek from 1994-96. Privates Valor (2012-14) and Mullen (2008-10) also enjoyed three-spots. … The two programs have only faced each other four times, and split victories – all in nonleague and early in the season. 1996: Pomona won 16-7; 1997: Eaglecrest, 28-27; 1998: Pomona, 21-7; and 1999: Eaglecrest, 31-14. … Eaglecrest, 24-1 over two seasons, is coming off a 32-21 double overtime thriller over Columbine, one in which it had leads of 7-0, 9-0 and 17-0. In the second extra session, Theryne Sandoval-Jimenez caught a TD pass as well as a 2-point conversion reception for the winning points. … Madden on the Raptors: “They’ve got some players who make things happen.” … Pomona humbled a good Grandview 42-20 in its semifinals victory.  The Panthers grabbed the lead immediately and Max Borghi was brilliant. Again. He rushed for 211 yards and three TDs. QB Ryan Marquez threw for 275 yards and two TDs. And junior Colton Muller enjoyed an electrifying 98-yard catch-and-run for a TD. … Madden on Borghi, who had knee-ligament surgery: “His knee felt great the whole time, but his body wasn’t back in shape and he wasn’t ready to go until maybe Week 6 or 7. Weeks 6-to-9, he was the old Max; Weeks 10-to-13, he’s the new Max, which is better.” … Are there better skill sets of QB-RB-WR than Eaglecrest’s Jalen Mergerson, Kenny Wanting and Victor Garnes, and Pomona’s Marquez, Borghi and Billy Pospisil? Not worth the breath to argue. … Eagelcrest coach Mike Schmitt on Marquez and Borghi: “I’m a fan of high-school football and been watching those guys play. I’ve been impressed ever since they’ve been sophomores.” … Garnes, by the way, who’s easily one of Colorado’s top three football players in terms of athletic ability, banged up a shoulder last week, but Schmitt said his multi-purpose threat (WR, RB, Slot, DB, Ret.) will “be ready to go.” … Up front, both have been able to rock and roll. Eaglecrest’s defense is anchored by the 320-pound Matthew Youngblood, then a bunch of 220-to-230-pounders across the fronts, Schmitt said. They work well. So do Pomona’s groups, feisty sophomore Kyle Moretti among the most-effective. … More Madden: “I thought the key to our game (last week) was our offensive and defensive lines. And those kids have played well all year.” … Eaglecrest’s leading tacklers – Cody Bardin, Kyante Christian, Garnes, Kyle Wagner and Tyler Dufour. Pomona’s top takedown players – Moretti, Mateo Crespin, Jack Thiele, Doug Mills, Tyler Kimminau and Kenny Maes. … Said Schmitt about his players dealing with expectations the past few years: “Just the chance to go play another team like this … we had to beat (Cherry) Creek, Columbine and now we play these guys. Just par for the course.” … And Madden on returning to the title game and another thought of a possible championship: “They’re excited, really excited to go back. They want to play our best game and that’s all we can do … the bright lights don’t bother our guys. They play their best when they’re supposed to.”

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Neil Devlin
About Neil Devlin 17 Articles

Neil H. Devlin is in his 38th year covering Colorado high-school sports. He’s currently the Sports Information Director at Mullen High in southwest Denver. Twitter: @neildevlin. Web: www.mullenhigh,com

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