BROOMFIELD — Gary Davies doesn’t deal in shades of gray.
Davies has built Broomfield into one of the premier football programs in the state, so he wasn’t about to accept accolades after watching his inexperienced and unranked squad stand toe-to-toe with visiting Pomona, the fifth-ranked team in Class 5A, before falling late 21-14 in both teams’ season opener Friday night at Elizabeth Kennedy Stadium.
“We’re Broomfield High School football. We don’t do moral victories,” Davies said. “We lost. We have Legacy (next) and we’re going to be a lot better next Saturday, and then when we play Loveland (in two weeks) we’ll be even better than that.”
Still, his Eagles should have plenty to build upon as his team moves forward this season. Despite only returning two starters on both sides of the football, Broomfield held the lead over the Panthers for much of the ball game, and if it wasn’t for two late scores and a couple of misfires down the stretch, the Eagles might have pulled off the upset.
“We didn’t quit, even when we did fall behind,” Davies said. “I told the kids we’re not that talented of a football team, but we can do some great things if we stick together.”
Broomfield held a 14-6 lead heading into the final quarter and had Pomona reeling after Luke McAninch came up with his second interception of the contest early in the period. But a fumbled snap deep in Eagles territory set up the Panthers at the 9, and Konner Burns bounced in from 7 yards out three plays later to cut the deficit to 14-12.
Lukas Russell’s 2-point conversion evened things up with 6:39 to play.
Broomfield muffed the ensuing kickoff out of bounds at its own 4-yard line, and the Eagles were forced to punt after going three and out, setting up Pomona at the Broomfield 32. Russell only needed two carries to put the Panthers on top for good, finding the end zone from 14 yards out for the 21-14 lead with 4:59 to play.
The Eagles moved into Pomona territory on their next drive, but it stalled after an unsportsmanlike conduct call and an illegal formation penalty wiped out possible first downs on back-to-back plays with under three minutes remaining.
“We lost it in the end,” said senior linebacker Michael Wristen, who scored Broomfield’s first touchdown on a 3-yard interception return. “People were tired and we needed to stay ready to play.”
Wristen and the rest of the Broomfield defensive front played well for long stretches of the contest. Wristen, Blake Whitsell, Cooper Gardner and Austyn Harris came up with several big plays to keep the high-powered Pomona offense at bay.
“They made plays, give them credit,” Pomona coach Jay Madden said. “They tackled well, they ran to the ball. They were getting all over the place.”
Quarterback Alec McLain threw for 165 yards and a score in his debut for the Eagles. Dante Panicucci was his favorite target, hauling in five passes for 110 yards and a score.
Chris Marquez ran for 194 yards to pace Pomona’s attack.
Both teams had to work through some early-game jitters as the first quarter and a half was marred by penalties and misfires. Pomona drove deep into Eagles territory on its initial drive only to see a delay penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct call push them back, forcing the Panthers to settle for a 35-yard Ally Thimsen field goal.
Broomfield couldn’t get its offense on track in the first quarter and saw its first three drives of the game go nowhere. But McLain hit a 43-yard punt that went out at the Pomona 3-yard line, and then Wristen pulled down an interception on a ball that was batted in the air by Whitsell and returned it for a touchdown, putting Broomfield up 7-3 with 10:55 left in the first half.
McLain found his rhythm under center on Broomfield’s next drive, hooking up with Panicucci twice for 70 yards, including a 19-yard scoring strike, as the Eagles stretched the lead to 14-3 midway through the second.
Pomona again drove deep into Broomfield territory just before the end of the first half and had a second-and-goal from the 3, but had to settle for a 23-yard Thimsen field goal.
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Pomona 21, Broomfield 14
At Broomfield H.S.
Pomona (1-0) 3 3 0 15 — 21
Broomfield (1-0) 0 14 0 0 — 14
Pomona — Ally Thimsen 35 field goal.
Broomfield — Michael Wristen 3 interception return (Travis Frese kick).
Broomfield — Dante Panicucci 19 pass from Alec McClain (Frese kick).
Pomona — Konner Burns 7 run (Lukas Russell run).
Pomona — Russell 14 run (Thimsen kick).
RUSHING — Pomona: Chris Marquez 21-194, Lukas Russell 8-58, Konner Burns 4-20, Justin Robers 2-(-14); Broomfield: Jordan Xiong 6-36, Noah Tripp 5-26, Alec McLain 10-15.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) — Pomona: Justin Roberts 9-15-3 91; Broomfield: Alec McLain 11-24-0 165.
RECEIVING — Pomona: Konner Burns 3-40, Chris Benefiel 3-32, Hunter Hogoboom 2-10, Kyle Kounnas 1-9; Broomfield: Dante Panicucci 5-110, Michael Wristen 3-31, Bradley Baldwin 2-16, Luke McAninch 1-8.