DENVER — Before sitting in the Broncos Media Room for CHSAA’s football press conferences for the Class 4A and 5A championship games on Tuesday morning, players and coaches from the four schools toured Empower Field at Mile High, the site of the championship contests.
The moment leaves many of the players awestruck, walking in the same halls as some of their favorite NFL players do and knowing they will take the field at an NFL stadium for the final game this season.
“It’s a beautiful place,” Broomfield’s Tyler Carpenter said. “It’s not often you get to come here and experience something like this. It’s a big experience to come here and then to play a football game here on Saturday.”
Once the tours were complete, coaches and players from Broomfield, Pine Creek, Cherry Creek and Columbine went into the media room to conduct their press conference to preview the championship games they will play.
For the seniors on the Broomfield football team, Tuesday’s walkthrough and the week as a whole has a feeling of déjà vu. The last time Broomfield played for the state championship was in 2016, when the seniors were just freshmen, and the Eagles played the same Pine Creek football team for the title that season.
The championship game in 2016 did not end the way Broomfield had hoped with a 36-14 loss. For the seniors who were a part of that team, they hope to rewrite history in the final game this year and bring home the school’s first championship since 1984.
“It would mean a lot,” Broomfield’s Antonio Welch-Soto said. “We talked about it and thought that this was going to be our year. We’re here, and we’re ready. To come out and have this experience with this group of guys is awesome.”
Broomfield coach Blair Hubbard and Pine Creek coach Todd Miller took to the stage to address reporters at the press conference. The two shared insights on their seasons and what led them to get to this moment.
Pine Creek will be making its third appearance in the state title game in the past four years. For them, it was an upset loss to the Skyline Falcons in last year’s quarterfinal round of the playoffs that provided the motivation for the team this year.
“This started in January after a tough loss we had in the playoffs,” Miller said. “We had to change some things, not only in the weight room, but our kids embraced being good people. That’s the best thing we’ve been able to do going into the season.”
Pine Creek has rolled in the playoffs with decisive wins over Longmont, Ponderosa and Pueblo West in its first three playoff games.
Hubbard talked about his senior class and knowing the potential they had to follow in the footsteps of his 2016 team to make their way to the Class 4A state title.
“Our journey for a lot of these seniors started four years ago, my first year at Broomfield and they were freshmen,” Hubbard said. “A lot of those guys were scout team players that were on that team that played Pine Creek in 2016. We had a feeling with a lot of hard work in the weight room and in the offseason that we could have a chance to get back.”
Broomfield defeated Grand Junction and Chatfield in the first two rounds at home and kicked a game-winning field goal on the final play of the game to defeat Dakota Ridge at Jeffco Stadium in the semifinals last weekend.
One of the major talking points for their press conference stemmed from their star running backs. Pine Creek’s David Moore III and Broomfield’s Caden Peters enter this week as the top two rushers in Colorado, and the battle between them will surely be something to watch in determining the state champion this year.
“I see flashbacks of 2016 when (Moore III) went for about 200 yards on us,” Hubbard said about Pine Creek’s back. “He’s a great runner and breaks tackles. That’s one thing we’re going to have to make sure we do is have sound tackling. It’s going to be fun hopefully for the fans watching two great athletes battle it out together.”
Peters ran for 196 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Dakota Ridge last week and has rushed for no fewer than 104 yards in a game this season. With his running ability and his big offensive line opening up lanes, the team feels confident they could have solid run production to lean on this week.
“I’m pretty confident in my O-line,” Peters said. “They’ve been doing good all year. Whoever is the most physical will win. Statistically speaking me and DM3 are doing pretty good, but it all starts with the O-line. I give them a lot of respect. My touchdowns are their touchdowns.”
The Class 4A state championship game between Broomfield and Pine Creek will be the first game to kickoff at Empower Field at Mile High on Saturday at 11 a.m., followed by Cherry Creek and Columbine for the 5A title at 2:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online through Ticketmaster or at the doors of the stadium. The games can also be heard on 104.3 The Fan.
Welch-Soto on slowing down Pine Creek’s run game: “We have to tackle. We have to wrap up. He breaks a ton of tackles, and we have to wrap up. That’s going to be a big key. There’s plenty of times where teams could have made plays but they couldn’t wrap up. That will be our key on defense. We also have to come hard and hit him.”
Peters on ending Broomfield’s championship drought: “It would mean everything. That would be an even bigger blessing to actually take home a title. For Broomfield, that would be awesome.”
Hubbard on creating turnovers and getting some against Pine Creek: “Defensively we always talk about trying to take away the football from the opposing team. Either forcing them to kick the ball or finding ways to strip the ball. On the offensive side of the ball, we have to make sure they are doing a good job of taking care of the football. Last week with the field conditions I felt like carrying the ball we did a good job holding on to it. With good weather, hopefully we can take care of the ball this week.”
Carpenter on the chemistry with the offensive line: “We’re a family. We have a great coach that keeps us together and humble. He tells us how it is. We are a family and do things as a family. Tonight, we’re going to have a sit down at my house and watch film to get ready for this game. We’re collective and we’re going to battle collectively.”