5A FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW

It has been a long, difficult season in more ways than one with plenty of arguing and consternation about Colorado’s ever-changing football landscape. Lots of key injuries. One-sided league play. And highly questionable playoff designations in a field that was cut in half.
But here we are at the end of Year 96 with Valor Christian and Pomona, which also met to decide the Class 5A championship in Year 95, going at it again.
Ending up where we finished a year ago doesn’t tell the full story and won’t fix the problems.
But some of what is presented below should prepare you for Saturday’s finale:
 
 
(3) Valor Christian (10-3) vs. (1) Pomona (12-1)
2:30 p.m., Saturday, Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High
It’s the first set of back-to-back finalists in 61 seasons among big schools and just the fifth since sanctioning in 1921. The others — 1922, Fort Collins 16, Colorado Springs 0 and 1923, Fort Collins 0, Colorado Springs 0, tie; 1926, Fort Collins 13, Canon City 0 and 1927, Fort Collins 14, Canon City 0; 1949, Denver East 27, Fort Collins 6 and 1950, Fort Collins 14, Denver East 6; and 1954, Longmont 40, Grand Junction 7 and 1955, Longmont 32, Grand Junction 6. Valor Christian beat Pomona 29-26 the past season. …
It’s Valor Christian’s eighth consecutive finale. The Eagles are 6-1, winning 3A in 2009, 4A from 2010-11 and three of the four 5A championships since 2012. Pomona is in its seventh title game. The Panthers are 1-5 and won it all in 1988, beating Montbello 24-21. …
The two played on Sept. 23 with Pomona winning 23-16. Valor ran 20 more plays from scrimmage, but Panthers QB Ryan Marquez threw for 177 yards and two TDs. Eagles QB Dylan McCaffrey did not throw for a TD. …
Last week’s victory in the semifinals was Pomona’s 50th (against 24 losses). …
The Panthers have been shut out only once in the postseason — in the 1993 6A semifinals, when Overland and premier defender Brian Kelly won 14-0 before waxing Northglenn in the title game. …
Since 2009, Valor is 96-15 overall and 35-1 in the postseason. The one loss was by a point in the 2014 final against Cherry Creek. …
The average margin of the Eagles’ championship-game victories is 27.5 points. …

On the season, Marquez is up to 2,034 yards passing for 20 TDs and only six interceptions.
Cameron Gonzales recently overtook Max Borghi as Pomona’s leading rusher, but Borghi has been out with a ligament tear in a knee. Gonzales is up to 890 yards and 14 TDs. Borghi, a junior, had 824 and 15. Marquez has added 391 yards and eight TDs. …
Sophomore Billy Pospisil is far and away Pomona’s top receiver with 63 catches for 909 yards and 11 TDs. …
Garrett Zanon tops the Panthers with 145 tackles. Uriah Vigil (70), Isiah Hirtier (61) and Brandon Micale (58) are next. Micale also is first on the team with 8.0 sacks. …
It will be the last chance in Colorado to see McCaffrey perform. On the season, he’s 196-of-287 (68 percent) for 2,642 yards, 29 TDs and five interceptions. As for rushing, it’s 507 yards and a team-leading nine TDs. He may have been held in check last week against Cherry Creek in a 10-7, last-second victory, but he also had a huge scramble to help set up the winning field goal. …
Sophomore Joshia Davis (811 yards rushing, nine TDs) will need a big game, Eagles coach Rod Sherman said, as will sophomore Luke McCaffrey, their top receiver (45 receptions, 695 yards), eight TDs). The younger McCaffrey also has been effective as a safety. “He’s such a competitor,” Sherman said. “And you don’t usually think that about a 15-year-old.” …
The middle and back of the Valor defense, Sherman said, is where it has grown the most. Matthew Thibault’s 67 tackles heads the team. Will Rodgers has 11.5 tackles for loss. As a group, the Eagles have 68 such tackles. Concerning sacks, Rodgers is tops there, too, with 8.0.
PLAYOFFS THIS YEAR
Pomona (12-1)
First Round:  Beat Bear Creek 42-26
Quarterfinals:  Beat Columbine 42-21
Semifinals:  Beat Regis 24-7
Valor Christian (10-3)
First Round:  Beat Cherokee Trail 42-0
Quarterfinals:  Beat Grandview 66-35
Semifinals:  Beat Cherry Creek 10-7
HEAD TO HEAD PLAYOFF MEETINGS
2015:  Valor Christian won 29-26 (Championship)
2014:  Valor Christian won 56-34 (Quarterfinals)
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORIES
POMONA (1-5)
2015:  Lost to Valor Christian 29-26
2009:  Lost to Mullen 27-24
1992:  Lost to Boulder 10-9
1988:  Beat Montbello 24-21
1986:  Lost to Cherry Creek 35-7
1983:  Lost to Cherry Creek 13-7
VALOR CHRISTIAN (6-1)
2015:  Beat Pomona 29-26
2014:  Lost to Cherry Creek 25-24
2013:  beat Fairview 56-16
2012:  Beat Cherokee Trail 9-0
2011:  Beat Pine Creek 66-10
2010:  Beat Wheat Ridge 38-8
2009:  Beat Steamboat Springs 41-14
Saturday’s game is set for 2:30pm at Mile High Stadium in Denver.  You can also watch the game live through the NFHS Network by clicking on the link below.

LIVE VIDEO STREAM

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