2016 CLASS 5A STATE FOOTBALL SEMIFINAL MATCHUP
NO. 4 REGIS JESUIT (11-1) AT NO. 1 POMONA (11-1)
At North Area Athletic Complex, Nov. 26, 1 p.m.
BREAKDOWN: Regis Jesuit and Pomona meet on the football field for the first time since 2011 when the fourth-seeded Raiders and top-seeded Panthers — who both boast 11-1 records — meet in the Class 5A state semifinals at 1 p.m. Nov. 26 at the North Area Athletic Complex. Pomona has enjoyed the advantage in the last five contests with four wins, starting when the teams faced off in the first round of the 5A state playoffs, followed by regular season wins in 2008 (41-14), 2009 (28-24) and 2011 (24-17). Regis Jesuit’s lone victory in the series came in 2010 by a 42-7 count.
REGIS JESUIT: Coach Danny Filleman’s team has the program in the semifinals of the state playoffs for the first time since 2010, when the Raiders went all the way to the 5A state championship game. Regis Jesuit continues to search for its first state football title…The Raiders (the Mount Antero League champions) have rolled to 10 straight victories since their only loss of the year, a 17-0 defeat at Mullen on Sept. 9. Regis Jesuit’s toughest battle in that stretch came in the quarterfinal round, when it outlasted previously undefeated and fifth-seeded Eaglecrest 34-24 on Nov. 18 at Lou Kellogg Stadium. Junior DE Jake Heimlicher broke a 24-24 tie in the final minute of the third quarter when he diagnosed a pass in the flat, batted the ball down before it reached the line of scrimmage to make the ball live and returned it for a touchdown. The Raiders tacked on a field goal by PK Jarred Worrick to increase its lead in the fourth quarter and LB Will Kulick forced a fumble with just over a minute left to allow them to run out the clock. Junior QB Justin Lamb rushed for a touchdown and also threw a TD pass to senior WR Quentin Birch and junior RB DJ Jackson found the end zone on the ground in the 10th straight 30-plus point effort for Regis Jesuit…In two playoff games, Lamb has throw three touchdown passes and each to a different receiver, as Birch, junior WR Aubrey Marschel-Parker and junior WR Cade Mendenhall have all nabbed scoring passes. Lamb has passed for 258 yards in the postseason, but has only needed to throw sparingly as the ground game has been working well. The Raiders have rushed for a combined 574 yards in wins over Fairview (48-28) and Eaglecrest with a mix of big plays and hard yards. Senior RB Alfred Jones has led the team in yardage in both games with a combined 237 yards, followed by sophomore RB Kiahn Martinez (196) and Jackson (126), while the trio has scored six touchdowns. The Raiders have tallied the third-most points in 5A with 450 in 12 games…The Regis Jesuit defense has yielded 52 points in the postseason (and 196 on the season, fifth-fewest in 5A) to two high-scoring offenses, but has also forced six turnovers (four interceptions, two fumble recoveries). Heimlicher has picked up six sacks in two postseason games, while senior LB Alec Hamilton has made 30 tackles and Kulick has 24 stops to his credit. Junior DB Patrick Roe has an interception and fumble recovery in the postseason, while Jackson, Kulick and senior S Ricky Munoz all have picked off passes. Worrick has been quite reliable in the playoffs and has connected on both his field goal attempts and 10 of 11 extra point tries.
POMONA: Coach Jay Madden’s Panthers need one more victory to return to the 5A state championship game, where they fell to Valor Christian by three points last season. Pomona has made it to the state final twice in the past seven seasons…Like Regis Jesuit, Pomona (the Mount Evans League champion) has won 10 straight games since its only loss, a 33-14 loss at the hands of Brunswick, Georgia, in a game played on Sept. 1 in Orlando, Florida. The Panthers have racked up 42 points in both of their playoff victories, as they moved past Bear Creek (42-26) and Columbine (42-21). Pomona — owner of 5A’s fourth-highest scoring offense — attacked both opponents in different ways, as it had 285 yards rushing against the Bears and 285 yards through the air against the Rebels. Senior RB Cameron Gonzales has been a force on the ground with 250 yards and four touchdowns in two playoff games, while junior QB Ryan Marquez has thrown five touchdown passes in two games — including three to sophomore WR Billy Pospisil against Columbine — and junior RB Max Borghi, who was injured in the Columbine game, has two playoff touchdowns. Pomona features an outstanding offensive line, even without senior OL Jake Moretti, who has missed the entire season with a torn ACL. Moretti recently rescinded his commitment to Ohio State to commit to the University of Colorado…Defensively, the Panthers have yielded 47 postseason points and have allowed the fewest points of any team in 5A (160) in 12 games. Senior LB Garrett Zanon has registered double-digit tackles in both postseason contests and is easily the team’s leading tackler with 127 on the season, followed by senior LB Uriah Vigil (the team leader with four interceptions) and senior DE Isiah Hirtler. Senior DE Brandon Micale paces Pomona with eight sacks.
WINNER GETS: The winner advances to the 5A state championship game, slated for Dec. 3 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, to play the winner of the semifinal between No. 7 Cherry Creek and No. 3 Valor Christian.