AURORA | A capsule look at the 2017 Class 5A state football semifinal matchup between No. 4 Pomona and No. 8 Grandview:
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
NO. 4 POMONA (10-2) vs. NO. 8 GRANDVIEW (10-2)
5 p.m., Nov. 25 at Legacy Stadium
BREAKDOWN: Pomona and Grandview meet in the Class 5A state football playoffs for the third time in the past seven seasons, with each team owning a win in the previous two meetings — the Wolves took a 35-22 first round win in 2010 and the Panthers collected a 35-21 quarterfinal victory in 2015….Pomona has appeared in the 5A state championship game in each of the past two seasons and lost both times to Valor Christian (29-26 in 2015 and 30-14 in 2016), while the Eagles also knocked the Panthers out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals the year before that. In all, Pomona has been to at least the quarterfinals in seven straight seasons and appeared in the semifinals four times in that span…Grandview, on the other hand, is a win away from the program’s second trip to the 5A state championship game, with the first coming back in 2007. The Wolves have won at least one playoff game for 13 straight seasons and have earned their sixth semifinal appearance since 2005.
POMONA: Coach Jay Madden’s Panthers — the Mount Evans League champions — bring an eight-game winning streak into the semifinals, which started following yet another loss to Valor Christian (34-21 on Sept. 22), followed by a 40-28 defeat out of state against Rockhurst (Missouri). Pomona’s latest two wins came in the postseason in high-scoring fashion as it topped No. 13 Poudre 68-27 in the first round and No. 5 Fairview 48-31 in the second round. The Panthers have been virtually unstoppable offensively in the playoffs with an eye-popping 1,177 yards of total offense, with 628 coming on the ground and 549 through the air. Senior QB Ryan Marquez has thrown for eight touchdowns against just one interception in two postseason games, senior RB Max Borghi has racked up 447 yards and six TDs on the ground and junior WR Billy Pospisil has recovered 251 yards and five scores in the air to lead the way, while five others players have scored touchdowns. Defensively, Pomona has recorded five sacks and forced six turnovers in the two victories…The Panthers own the most prolific offense in all of 5A by a wide margin, as they have scored 538 points in 12 games for an average of 44.9 points per contest and haven’t been held to fewer than 21 all season. Balanced is the perfect way to describe Pomona’s attack, which has gained 2,557 yards on the ground and 2,613 yards through the air, all while missing Marquez for a few games due to injury. When healthy, Marquez has been accurate (64 percent completion percentage) and effective (2,041 yards passing, 20 touchdowns vs. four interceptions) and he’s used a stable of four receivers with double-digit receptions and multiple touchdown catches. Pospisil leads the way by a wide margin with 1,334 yards and 15 TDs, followed by junior WR David Ross (553 yards, six TDs), junior WR Colton Muller (321 yards, 4 TDs) and senior WR Riley Govan (248 yards, 3 TDs). Borghi, who missed most of the postseason last year due to injury, has racked up 1,233 yards and 21 touchdowns on just 121 attempts, while junior RB Theorius Robison has been a nice compliment with 805 yards and 14 scores and Marquez himself has run for 200 yards and three TDs…Defensively, Pomona has by far yielded the most points of any of the four remaining teams at 235 total (19.6 points per game) and held three teams to seven points or fewer. The Panthers have racked up 35 sacks and forced 26 turnovers on the season. Senior DL Tanner Kimminau has three postseason sacks and a team-high seven for the season, one more than senior DT Doug Mills, while six other Pomona players have gotten to the quarterback for losses multiple times. Sophomore LB Kyle Moretti is the Panthers’ leading tackler with 95 stops on the season, followed by senior LB/S Mateo Crespin with 63. Senior S Kenny Maes has picked off five passes, while senior DB Riley Welsch has three interceptions as does senior DB Santos Manguina, who has one in both playoff games…Borghi is a dangerous threat as well on special teams as he’s returned both a punt and kickoff for a touchdown.
GRANDVIEW: Coach John Schultz’s Wolves struck a blow for all of Colorado in the 5A quarterfinals with a rousing 28-16 victory over top-seeded and previously undefeated Valor Christian on the Eagles’ home field. Grandview dealt Valor Christian only its second-ever loss in 39 postseason games and prevented it from playing for a state championship for a ninth straight season. The Mount Massive League champion Wolves built on the momentum from a 42-0 victory over Lakewood in the opening round to win in the quarterfinals and now have won eight straight games since back-to-back losses to Eaglecrest (which is in the other semifinal) and quarterfinalist Cherry Creek in the middle of September. Junior RB Jordan Billingsley has rushed for 412 yards and five touchdowns in two postseason games and the Wolves have eight TDs on the ground in all, while senior QB Kyle Smith has thrown a pair of touchdown passes. Defensively, Grandview has given up just 16 points in two postseason games and collected four sacks and a turnover in the process…Despite sustaining injuries to key pieces, the Wolves’ defensive unit has been the stingiest in the 5A classification and has surrendered only 121 points in 12 games (10.1 points per game), while seven opponents scored seven points or less. Grandview has recorded 25 sacks and forced 21 turnovers on the season while swarming to the football on every snap. Senior DB Kevin Clark leads the Wolves in both total tackles (69) and sacks with 6.0, as he just passed injured senior DB Jordan Knapke and senior LB Thomas Jenkins, who both have been lost for the season. Senior LBs Luke La Flam and Darius Tucker have three sacks apiece and virtually the same number of tackles in 57 for La Flam and 56 for Tucker, while junior S Trevor Greenlee has matched La Flam with two turnovers returned for touchdowns. Senior DB Aaron Harris and Greenlee both own two interceptions and four others — including senior S Gunner Gentry and junior DB Quentin Goodgain, who have been pressed into more duty due to injuries — have also picked off passes…Offensively, Grandview has cranked up its ground game of late and is closing in on 3,000 yards on the ground for the season. The play of an offensive line that includes senior OG Cameron Cooper, junior OT Darius Miller and junior C Mason Schultz has done an increasingly better job of clearing the way for Billingsley, who has racked up 1,796 yards rushing (a total that includes four games with 200 or more yards) and scored 18 times, while Harris has averaged a healthy 6.4 yards per carry (471 yards total) with five touchdowns. Smith hasn’t needed to throw a ton with the ground game working, but has tossed 17 touchdown passes against just two interceptions with 876 total yards through the air. Missing Gentry for a handful of games due to injury has something to do with that, while the University of Wyoming commitment has picked up 205 yards and five TDs through the air in seven games. Senior WR Julius Carter Jr. has a team-high 378 yards receiving and also has five scores, while sure-handed junior TE Dayne Prim — who caught a big touchdown pass against Valor Christian — has three scores on seven catches…Harris and senior WR Prentice Wilson give Grandview threats in the return game.
WINNER GETS: The Pomona-Grandview winner moves into the Class 5A state championship game, scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at Mile High Stadium — home of the Denver Broncos — where it will play the winner of the other semifinal between No. 3 Columbine and No. 2 Eaglecrest, scheduled for noon Nov. 25 at Legacy Stadium.