Colorado’s 98th season of schoolboy football figures to have a fitting cap.
When the Cherry Creek Bruins (12-1) and Valor Christian Eagles (13-0) meet on Saturday, 2:30 p.m., annual high-school invasion of Broncos Stadium at Mile High will be accompanied by several added incentives, facts, nuances and numbers listed below to make viewing the high-end matchup even more enjoyable.
— What’s not to like here? It’s Greenwood Village’s Cherry Creek, the state’s largest school, against the reigning parochial power, Valor Christian of Highlands Ranch. Colorado tends to love the public-private-school thing in its 5A final. It has happened nine times since 2008. …
— If you’re keeping track, we’ll have a new 5A winner — 2017 champion Pomona went out in the quarterfinals. …
— Cherry Creek is going for its 10th title, all since 1982. Valor is seeking its eighth, including one in 3A and two in 4A, since joining the fray in 2008. …
— This will be the eighth meeting between the two programs and the Eagles have won the past five. The pattern from 2014-16 was a regular-season meeting, then another in the playoffs. In 2014, the Bruins won the first meeting, 33-14, then earned a 25-24 victory in the 5A final, one of the better big-school title games of the era. However, Valor began its head-to-head winning streak in 2015 with a home 10-0 victory. It also won the last one, 26-14, in 2017. …
— Valor has given up all of 100 points in 13 big-school games, including two against good, out-of-state teams. Seriously, just 100 points. Even with surrendering a season-high 29 points in last week’s semifinals to Grandview, the Eagles had given up, in order, 0, 6, 6, 7, 0, 0, 0, 7, 17, 15, 6 and 7 points.
— Cherry Creek coach Dave Logan probably won’t have overt, pregame jitters for appearing in a final. He has been here before – this will be Logan’s 11th championship-game experience and he has won seven times at four schools (also with Arvada West, Chatfield and Mullen).
— Valor head coach Ed McCaffrey is in his first season leading a schoolboy team. Being undefeated and making the final in his first try is hardly a regularity.
— Both head coaches are NFL veterans at wide receiver and both spent time with the Broncos.
— Logan is 67-21 with the Bruins and a ridiculous 204 games above .500 in his career. He’s 268-64.
— Valor has won 39 of its 41 playoff games. Cherry Creek has won 26 of its past 36 games in the postseason.
— The Bruins had a rare 5A forfeit victory that had nothing to do with academics or ineligibility. In fact, they were awarded a 2-0 victory in Week 7 in the Metro East League against Arapahoe after the Warriors opted not to play in the wake of student suicides.
— Senior quarterback Alex Padilla is a crisp 151-of-216 for 1,789 yards, 23 touchdowns and just one interception. Over the past two seasons, he has 63 TDs and 10 picks, 71 and 17 for his career. He’s headed to Iowa. The Bruins have scored 388 points (29.2 per game) and he has been at the front of most of them.
— In Cherry Creek’s 10-7 victory over a very good Columbine in last week’s semifinals, the Bruins actually ran more plays (54-42) than the Rebels and had more possession time (27 minutes to 21). Neither of those usually happens against rush-oriented Columbine, particularly in the playoffs.
— Sophomore Seamus Henderson led Cherry Creek with 103 yards rushing and his team’s only TD. John Adams, Carson Brantley, Alec Pell, Carson Small, Jaden Triplett and Gus Zilinskas headed the tackling parade.
— Bruins long snapper Aiden Kneller (New Mexico), OT Michael Lynn (Nebraska), Padilla (Iowa) and LB Pell (Colorado) have pledged to college.
— Valor has scored 431 points and senior Luke McCaffrey, the youngest of four considerable brothers (Max, Christian and Dylan), has had a hand in most of them in his first full season as the starting quarterback, completing 144-of-266 passes for 2,033 yards, 20 TDs and just four picks, as well as 454 yards rushing and eight TDs. He has committed to Nebraska, has terrific speed and feel for the game, and he, too, can cap his career in style.
— For a bit, the Eagles rushed by committee after senior and CU commit Joshia Davis suffered an early season injury, but very speedy freshman Gavin Sawchuk has picked it up, notably over the past four weeks, when he has rushed for 593 yards and nine TDs. Overall, he has a team-leading 13 TDs and 78 points.
— The Eagles’ 31-29 victory over Grandview in the semis at Legacy Stadium – as usual, the weather turned awful in the second half near the Aurora Reservoir – included a late stop of a two-point conversion attempt by the Wolves.
— Kaiden Keefe and Zain Zinicola have combined for 96 receptions, 1,352 yards and 11 TDs for Valor.
— Defensively, every opposing coach has mentioned the Eagles’ Ethan Zemla, Cian Quiroga and Roger Rosengarten. They also have combined for 58.5 tackles for loss.