The similarities run deep.
Both teams are red hot. Both are dealing with a significant injury on offense. Both feature hard-hitting defenses adept at forcing turnovers.
So, who has the edge in Saturday’s much-anticipated showdown between Broomfield and Longmont in the Class 4A state semifinals? Broomfield backers will point to the Eagles’ 29-11 win at Longmont on Sept. 11, a victory that sent Broomfield on a streak of nine wins in 10 games, as clear proof of their team’s superiority.
The Longmont faithful will counter by pointing out how these Trojans are a vastly different team now, having corrected an early plague of turnovers to put together an eight-game winning streak heading into the big-stakes rematch.
Both arguments are entirely valid, and point toward a nail-biting conclusion Saturday afternoon at Everly-Montgomery Field. Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of the matchups.
Senior Clint Sigg has been nothing short of dynamic for Longmont, going 24 for 43 in two playoff games with 403 yards, four touchdown passes, two rushing touchdowns, and no interceptions. Sigg has thrown just one interception in 103 attempts during the Trojans’ eight-game winning streak. A bona fide two-way threat, Sigg has thrown for 1,521 yards and rushed for four touchdowns. Broomfield Logan McCormick is equally adept with both his arm and his legs, but a sprained ankle suffered in last week’s win against Montrose leaves his effectiveness, and perhaps his availability, in question. Broomfield still will be in capable hands if forced to turn to backup Jack Burgesser, who directed a last-minute, 97-yard winning drive last week. EDGE: Longmont.
In this case it’s Longmont that is dealing with a key injury at a position of strength for both sides, as leading rusher Conlan Berger will be sidelined due to a fractured wrist. (Berger could still contribute on defense.) Sigg, Eli Sullivan, and Ethan Gabrielle will have to fill the void. Broomfield has leaned heavily on the tandem of Nate Knowles (934 yards) and Jalon Torres (803). Knowles in particular has come on strong of late, compiling 582 yards over the past five games. Both backs have produced three 100-yard games. EDGE: Broomfield.
A week ago Longmont would have been marked with a clear advantage, but the sudden contribution of Nate Lehnerz last week was a huge boost for Broomfield. After breaking his arm in a car wreck the week of the regular season matchup between the teams, Lehnerz broke loose with 10 receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown in the quarterfinal win against Montrose. Broomfield’s Dante Panicucci is a steady threat with great hands who leads the Eagles with 44 receptions for 614 yards and eight touchdowns. Eli Sullivan leads the Trojans in receptions (45) and receiving yards (622) but may be called upon to help fill the void in the backfield created by Berger’s injury. EDGE: Broomfield.
Fans of hard-nosed football should take a long look at both front lines Saturday. Both are steady and punishing. Broomfield’s veteran front has opened enough gaping holes for the Eagles to average 242.2 rushing yards a game regardless who is carrying the ball — three different Broomfield players have rushed for at least 800 yards. Longmont has averaged 189.9 rushing yards a game, and lately the big fellas up front have done an admirable job of protecting Sigg. EDGE: Broomfield.
Broomfield is stern and capable of making big stops, as evidenced by last week’s crucial goal-line stand that kept additional Montrose points off the board and set up the Eagles’ dramatic winning drive. But Longmont senior Tanner Wilkey is one of the top big men in the state, and he has had plenty of help on a unit that has helped the Longmont defense record a pair of shutouts while surrendering just 15 points a game during the team’s eight-game winning streak. EDGE: Longmont.
Perhaps the biggest boost to the Longmont defense this season was the return of junior linebacker Logan Goodner, who missed last season due to injury. Goodner leads the Trojans in tackles (117) and also has two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, seven sacks to his credit. Goodner’s blitzes have made life uncomfortable for many quarterbacks this season. Junior Anthony Alvarado leads Broomfield in tackles. EDGE: Longmont.
Two of the best in all of Class 4A will square off between Longmont’s Cooper Rothe and Broomfield’s Shane Wetzel. Rothe shares the lead for the entire state with nine interceptions. Wetzel, a punishing hitter from the safety position, is tied for fourth in 4A with six interceptions. Overall Rothe probably has a little more help, as fellow junior Ryan Rulon has nabbed four interceptions. EDGE: Longmont.
Broomfield’s Bryan Tanigawa is a solid kicker who has knocked down six field goals, but despite Rothe’s 4 for 7 mark on field goals, the versatile Trojan boasts a big-time leg that gives Longmont long-range scoring opportunities. Longmont also features a dangerous kick returner in Eli Sullivan.
Both teams bring momentum in to the matchup, with Longmont riding an eight-game winning streak and Broomfield entering with wins in nine of 10 games. Each side will be dealing with key injuries, and both have overcome postseason adversity — Longmont won last week at No. 2 seeded and previously unbeaten Fort Collins, and Broomfield pulled out a quarterfinal win with a 97-yard last-minute drive with its backup quarterback at the helm. EDGE: Even.
Prediction: Longmont 31, Broomfield 27
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