Longtime powers Valor Christian, Pomona meet again for Class 5A championship.
Welcome to the title fight in Class 5A football: No. 1 Pomona (12-1) against No. 3 Valor Christian (10-3) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
It’s the sixth showdown in three years between the two elite programs — Valor Christian holds a 3-2 advantage in that time frame, including a 2-0 record in the playoffs — and if the last couple of meetings are any indication, fans are in for some fireworks Saturday.
Pomona, still seething from last year’s nail-biting, 29-26 loss in the state championship game, played with a chip on its shoulder all season and owns a 23-16 victory over Valor Christian in Week 4.
But the Eagles are the defending 5A champions and feature a prolific quarterback, senior Dylan McCaffrey. Also, the heavy weight of history is on their side. This is Valor Christian’s eighth consecutive title game. The Eagles are 34-1 in all-time playoff games.
Both teams overcame adversity throughout their march to Mile High — and will have to do so again Saturday to win.
Pomona lost its star lineman, Coloradobound Jake Moretti, to a preseason knee injury and didn’t flinch. The Panthers lost an out-of-state game to Glynn Academy (Brunswick, Ga.) before reeling off 11 consecutive victories. And most recently, star running backs Max Borghi and Cam Gonzales went down with season-ending injuries in consecutive playoff games, leaving quarterback Ryan Marquez and Pomona having to improvise on offense.
Valor Christian, meanwhile, started its season 1-3 — a stretch that included decisive losses to Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.) on national television and to Mullen. Those who wrote off the Eagles and said they lost too much talent to graduation were proved wrong, as coach Rod Sherman’s squad knocked off other title-worthy programs — Grandview and Cherry Creek — in back-toback weeks to advance to the championship game.
But Valor Christian will need to get its high-powered offense clicking again after tying a season low with 10 points in its lastsecond semifinal victory over Cherry Creek. The Bruins limited McCaffrey and his arsenal of sophomore running back Joshia Davis, sophomore wideout Luke McCaffrey and senior wideout Jack Walley.
Valor Christian’s ’s defense has been outstanding, led by senior defensive tackle Noah Elliss, senior defensive end Will Rodgers and senior linebacker Christian Elliss.
Senior safety Uriah Vigil and senior linebacker Garrett Zanon lead a formidable Pomona defense.
5A: No. 1 Pomona (12-1) vs. No. 3 Valor Christian (10-3), 2:30 p.m., Sports Authority Field 4A: No. 5 Broomfield (11-2) vs. No. 3 Pine Creek (11-2), 11 a.m., Sports Authority Field 3A: No. 2 Pueblo East (12-1) vs. No. 1 Discovery Canyon (13-0), 1 p.m., District 20 Stadium
Where to watch
Unlike in years past, the 4A and 5A championship games will not be televised. Instead, the 3A, 4A and 5A title games will be streamed live by the NFHS Network, which purchased the rights to all CHSAA postseason games in every sport. Access to the NFHS Network games is subscription-based at $10 per month. The reason for no TV coverage? Money, said CHSAA commissioner Paul Angelico. He said the CHSAA made a good-faith effort to get a TV station to do the telecasts, but that it simply couldn’t afford the price tag local stations were asking to televise the games. “The reality is, we can’t generate enough viewership to make it worthwhile for a television network to broadcast it,” Angelico said. “In previous seasons, our third-party intermediary, the NFHS network, worked out that deal with the network for us. “The bottom line is, it comes down to having a network wanting to, and be willing to, take a risk on what it costs to broadcast the games.”