Gold Helmet finalists
Valor Christian quarterback Dylan McCaffrey is the winner of the 2016 Denver Post Gold Helmet Award, beating out three other worthy senior finalists. Here’s everything you need to know about those finalists, who are elite football players and scholar-athletes in their own right:
Columbine, QB/RB/S/RET After being named a first-team all-conference quarterback his freshman year at Heritage, Griebel transferred to Columbine and soon became the team’s de facto star. He rushed for 2,183 yards over the next two seasons while leading the Rebels back into the state title conversation, and as a junior carried the team on his back to the Class 5A semifinals. The University of North Dakota commit switched to quarterback as a senior to fill a team need, leading the Rebels to the state quarterfinals. He carries a 4.0 GPA, has completed an extensive amount of community service and serves as a committee member on the Jeffco student leadership summit. Griebel ended his prep career with 46 varsity starts, all-conference accolades at four positions, more than 6,100 total yards, 226 career tackles and 82 total touchdowns.
Jonathan Van Diest
Cherry Creek, DL/LB Van Diest leaves the storied Cherry Creek program as one of the most accomplished defensive players to ever put on a Bruins uniform. He recorded 50 varsity starts in four years — breaking a Cherry Creek record established in 1955 — and finished with 38 career sacks, tied for second all time with former Denver South star and current Arizona Cardinals lineman Calais Campbell. Van Diest, a University of Colorado commit, posted 62 tackles as a sophomore during the Bruins’ Class 5A title run, and then proceeded to become the lynchpin of the Bruins’ bruising defense over the next two seasons. He has been selected to play in the 2017 Under Armour All-American Bowl and, outside the lines, boasts a 4.1 GPA, is a Young Life vice president and volunteers at Mile High Workshop, which helps employ ex-felons and addicts.
Marcus McElroy Jr.
Mullen, RB The Colorado State University commit ran for 2,605 yards and 38 scores over the past two seasons — and averaged 106.8 yards per game this fall — while leading Mullen back into Class 5A state title contention. A versatile back, McElroy has the speed to run by defenders, the raw strength to run over them, and sure hands as a receiver. Mustangs coach Tom Thenell calls McElroy “a man of faith, and an example of the kind of individual who promotes an inclusive community,” and that’s a main reason why the senior has been so heavily involved in student leadership at Mullen. He’s one of two students to serve on Mullen’s strategic planning committee and is a member of the Lasallian student leaders, so he’s had a huge influence on shaping both the present and future learning and social environment at his high school.