DENVER — Although it had faced an abundance of dynamic backs this season, the Fairview defense understood the degree of difficulty would increase with Valor Christian’s Christian McCaffrey.
The Knights just didn’t know how much.
The Stanford-bound McCaffrey has created mismatches his entire career at Valor, and it was no different for a Knights group that entered the Class 5A state championship game 12-0.
“He is the best player in the state with the way he runs and the way he finds holes,” Fairview defensive end Carlo Kemp said. “I was out there and I called him on the line and said he’s robotic. I don’t think he’s human. He changed every way we prepared on defense and he got the better of us.”
McCaffrey scored all four of his touchdowns in the first half of Valor Christian’s 56-16 win — two on the ground, two through the air — and ended the season with a spellbinding 46. It marked the Eagles’ fifth straight title, and McCaffrey has played a primary role in the past four.
“He definitely knows how to run through arm tackles,” Fairview two-way lineman Connor Spencer said. “You have to wrap up on him. He also has the breakaway speed and he hits the hole hard. He’s definitely the best back we’ve faced this season.”
That is lofty praise considering Fairview twice faced Pomona’s Chris Marquez, who gained 440 of his 2,448 yards this season in two meetings against the Knights. But McCaffrey’s multidimensional skills separate him from virtually any back in the state.
One got the hint Fairview was in trouble on Valor’s second possession, when McCaffrey took a simple swing pass from A.J. Cecil on the right side and blew away everybody en route to a 65-yard touchdown that made it 14-0.
“Obviously he’s a great athlete and he plays on a lot of different parts of the field,” Knights linebacker Daniel Hoskins said. “It’s very unpredictable and he’s just tough to stop. You have to give all the credit in the world to them.”
Fairview coach Tom McCartney insisted it was less of what the Knights were doing wrong than the notion that Valor’s attack was relentless, saying: “The reason the score got out of hand was them. We were ready and we were prepared.”
McCaffrey finished with 129 yards on 12 carries and added 92 yard on five receptions. Most of that haul came in the first half, as the Eagles quickly forced a running clock when Nathan Whatmore scored on the opening drive of the second.
McCaffrey also spent time on the defensive side of the ball as a cornerback. He was asked whether he was surprised his Eagles won so comfortably, considering the contest was billed as an offensive shootout.
“We knew coming into this game that Fairview had an awesome team,” McCaffrey said. “We knew they had a quarterback who can really sling it, that they have great receivers and we knew they were big up front and had a lot of playmakers on defense. So to win like that is something special, especially against a great team like that.”
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