Football: Local prep players get the NFL star treatment

Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer
Erie senior Noah Roper was one among the area players to attend Friday’s inaugural high school football media day hosted by the Denver Broncos.

Local attendees at Friday’s football media day

MEAD: Head coach Jason Klatt; players Jay Olson, Sr., DE; Preston Hall, Sr., OL; Tanner Leise, Sr., DE; Ryan Bullock, Sr., RB; Marcel MacPhail, Sr. OL.

ERIE: Head coach Chad Cooper, players Noah Roper, Sr., RB; Nathan Hackney, Sr. OL; Spencer Brooks, Sr. OL; Jayme Nelms, Sr., TE; Ian McDonald, Sr., FB.

BROOMFIELD: Head coach Blair Hubbard; players Steven Croell, Sr., QB; Troy Finnegan, Sr., DB; Ryan Ruger, Sr., OL.

ENGLEWOOD – As smooth as senior running back Noah Roper looks on the field – and boy did he ever during his 2,600-yard campaign a year ago — the Division-I hopeful would like a few more reps in the media relations department.

The state’s high school media day was a workout all its own.

Roper was one of many players from around the state that fielded questions from the media at the UCHealth Training Center’s Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse on Friday afternoon. Hosted by the Denver Broncos and the Colorado High School Activities Association, 20 high school teams each brought a few players to take part in the first-annual event, including area-teams Broomfield, Mead and Erie.

Roper, all smiles, took a seat at a podium on the 50-yard line of the Broncos’ indoor facility alongside four teammates and his coach to face questions from statewide media outlets. Obligations like this could soon become the norm for last year’s leading rusher in the state, who has an offer from Air Force and Northern Colorado, and said CU, CSU and Wyoming have also shown interest.

“It’s definitely a work in progress, just getting used to everything,” Roper said of dealings with the media. “It’s an ongoing thing. I’ll get used to it as time goes on.”

Here’s a good test: Asked if he is shooting for 3,000 yards this season after going for 2,631 a year ago, the senior didn’t bat an eye.

“Especially with the line I’m getting this year and how quickly they’re working on things, I really think that could definitely be a potential goal,” he said.

Players and coaches also took part in a tour of the Broncos’ practice facility as well as a media relations training session led by the team’s public relations staff. One of the key topics discussed was the use social media by high school athletes. The issue has come to the forefront in professional athletics over the last few years, and especially of late. Professional baseball players including Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb, Nationals shortstop Trea Turner and Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader all faced scrutiny after tweets that were racist and homophobic in nature.

“I think there’s a lot of recent examples of how tweets and any social media post you make as a high schooler can come back to haunt you, even in your mid-20s,” said Bobby Mestas, the Broncos’ Director of Youth and High School Football. “Whatever we can do to educate and to really take these kids and coaches through the dos and don’ts of it. … The education they went through today is the same program that they take our (Broncos) rookies through.”

During their time under the lights, the guys from Broomfield, Mead and Erie answered questions about their past seasons and expectations for 2018. Erie is coming off a trip to the 3A state title game and Mead returns from a one-loss year and a trip to 3A quarterfinals. Broomfield, meanwhile, is looking for a fast start after starting last season 2-4 before winning six straight to reach the 4A semifinals.

“We’re really enjoying this and taking it all in,” Mavericks offensive lineman Marcel MacPhail said. “We’re here to learn and we’re here to grow and just spread the word about Mead. … We love our town and we love our program.”

University of Colorado-commit Ty Evans of Palmer Ridge, the team that beat Erie in the 3A title game, was also hand and drew the biggest attention. He talked about his progression as both a quarterback and emerging star.

“I never been in this atmosphere sitting in front of a group of reporter,” Evans chuckled.

He, like Roper, will likely have to get used to it.

The Broncos said they are hoping to have another high school football media day next year and hope for more teams and players in attendance.

Brent W. New: