Switching from hunter to the hunted can be interesting.
Not that Pomona, the 2017 Class 5A Colorado champion, has taken much time or put much effort into thinking about it …
“Oh, we haven’t,” Panthers head coach Jay Madden insisted earlier this week. “We’re so busy having to start the season in Florida, starting the season a week early … we really haven’t had time to take a breath and this group is really focused on just creating its own legacy. Last year’s team was last year’s team.”
Pomona has won twice in eight title-game opportunities, but don’t be surprised it figures to have another chance in 2018. Indeed, a Division I quarterback and running back have moved on, but the Panthers are 74-19 since 2011 (2-0 in 2018) to remain in the high end of big schools.
Plus, 12 regulars from a year ago have returned, including the dynamic Billy Pospisil, a receiver who knows how to get open, catch and make big plays. He had three touchdowns in the highest scoring final for the class the past December and has committed to Washington State.
Moving forward through another heavy schedule, Pomona also is in a new League, the 5A Metro West, which reunites the Panthers with Jefferson County District foes along with Mullen.
The annual lack of numbers that can provide depth aside, the busy Panthers know where they want to go and probably have inside them more glee than they want to admit. Or show.
And instead of doing the chasing, they are the ones getting chased.
“It’s kind of fun,” Madden allowed after thinking about it for a bit. “It’s a whole different feeling when you’ve got one (a state title).”
As big schools enter Week 3, there will beÂ SaturdayÂ games for the first time in 2018 as well as moving past the halfway point of the nonleague portion of the season.
Several matchups worth your time are marked for your viewing pleasure below:
Best bets …
Fairview (2-0) vs. ThunderRidge (2-0),Â Thursday,Â 7 p.m., Shea Stadium
It’s not the best time to play the Knights, who have won 44 of their past 49 regular-season games … To date, Fairview has cruised by crushing ThundeRrIdge and Evans of Orlando, Fla., by a combined 85-7. … Junior QB Aidan Atkinson has thrown for 10 TDs and four interceptions along with 695 yards. … Senior Bryce DesJardins has 12 receptions for 225 yards and three TDs, and four of junior Henry Blackburn’s catches have gone for TDs. … ThunderRidge, too, has rolled, winning twice by an aggregate of 92-12. … The Grizzlies were 3-7 a year ago, the first season removed from longtime coach Joe Johnson (now at Cherokee Trail). … Senior Spencer Lambert is averaging 9 yards per carry, has 253 total along with four TDs. … Senior Ryan Gilmore has thrown for five TDs and one interception. … Senior Sam Motzkus has picked up three sacks.
Arapahoe (2-0) vs. Heritage (1-0),Â Friday,Â 7 p.m., Littleton Public Schools Stadium
It’s the Milk Can Game or battle for the Brookridge Trophy, in honor of LPSS sitting on a former dairy farm. It’s also the kind of offering in which there should be more among big schools — a sustained rivalry regardless of league or class. … Arapahoe has won 11 of the past 13 head-to-head meetings. … Since former Valor Christian coach Rod Sherman has taken command, the Warriors are 2-0 and fresh from a 28-7 victory over Castle View. … Heritage opened last week with a 36-16 road victory at Air Academy. … The Eagles won’t play another team with a better-than-.500 record from a year ago until Week 6, when they will face Montrose, which for some reason also is in the 4A Metro League with Aurora Central, Denver South, Gateway and Ponderosa.
Columbine (2-0) at Fountain-Fort Carson (1-1),Â Friday, 7 p.m. Guy Barickman Stadium
The Rebels played one of their two out-of-state foes in the five weeks of nonleague — they won at University High of Orange City, Fla., the past weekend by 27-14. They will host Olathe North, Kan., later this month. … The Rebels have split their past four meetings with the Trojans. … Fountain-Fort Carson scored 41 points last week and still lost by 14, to Eaglecrest. … It’s 8-16 since firing longtime figure Mitch Johnson. … The Trojans were hit for 48 points over three quarters by Eaglecrest. … After Columbine, Fountain-Fort Carson will play two others from the Cherry Creek District (Grandview and Overland in addition to Eaglecrest), so, yes, fear of the RPI remains in scheduling.
Mullen (2-0) vs. Cherry Creek (2-0),Â Friday,Â 7 p.m., Stutler Bowl
Since big schools went to a 6A in 1990, has there been a better rivalry or series with as many big games at stake? Probably notÂ Â Â Â Â . … Mullen has won 11 of the past 14 meetings. … CommonÂ opponent? In Week 1, Cherry Creek blew out Doherty in Colorado Springs 56-7; in Week 2, the Mustangs needed three overtimes to get past the visiting Spartans 35-28. … Mullen has won twice at home under new head coach Vincent White and it took a strip by QB-SS Dom DePizzol to cause a fumble to seal it. … Junior RB Damien Cearns has rushed for four TDs. … Coach Dave Logan and the top-ranked Bruins won in California last weekend, beating talented Santa Margarita, a 2011 sectional California champion, 21-14. Cherry Creek was hit for 323 yards of offense. … The last meeting between the two was in the 2016 quarterfinals, when the Bruins won 34-17 on the road.
Pomona (2-0) at Valor Christian (2-0),Â Friday,Â 7 p.m.
The two have been matched nine times with Valor winning six of them. They also played in two of the past three championship games. Pomona was in the past three and won a year ago, over Eaglecrest. … Panthers QB Colton Muller has been picked off four times, but also thrown for 401 yards and three TDs. … Theorius Robinson has been getting the majority of the carries and has 309 yards and three TDs. … New Eagles head coach Ed McCaffrey already has won in Nevada as well as at home. … Son and senior QB Luke McCaffrey is a Nebraska pledge and here’s why — he’s off to a crisp start, 24-of-34 passing for 328 yards and three TDs, and he has rushed for 130 yards and a TD. … Five different WRs have TD catches for Valor.
Also keep an eye on …
Arvada West (2-0) vs. Fossil Ridge (1-1),Â 6 p.m., French Field
The Wildcats have put up 76 points in two outings and can get to 3-0, which would be a boost on their way back to prominence.
Cherokee Trail (2-0) vs. Horizon (0-2),Â Friday,Â 7 p.m., Adams 12 North Stadium
Senior Malik Sparrow (241 yards rushing, three TDs) and the Cougars are off to a promising start and already are nearing last year’s victory total (four).
Pine Creek (2-0) vs. Doherty (0-2),Â Friday,Â 7 p.m., Garry Berry Stadium
Host Spartans have been blown out and lost in triple overtime, and now a tall order against the 4A —power Eagles awaits.
Rocky Mountain (0-2) vs Eaglecrest (2-0),Â Friday,Â 7 p.m., Legacy Stadium
Go figure. The home Raptors overcame a bizarre week in which their first-year head coach quit, yet they survived a 55-41 slugfest over Fountain-Fort Carson on the road. Through eight quarters, they also lead 5A with 104 points.
Smoky Hill (2-0) vs. Northglenn (1-1),Â Friday,Â 7 p.m., Five Star Stadium
Excitement in Buffaloes Land, where new coach Tom Thenell has created buzz with a program that hasn’t had a non-losing seasonÂ in 11 yearsÂ nor a winning one since 1990.