Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
DENVER — Broomfield was hoping to change the narrative with Pine Creek.
Facing each other in the 2016 state championship final, Broomfield lost 36-14 to Pine Creek. Three years later, the two teams met again at Empower Field at Mile High, but it was a similar fate with Pine Creek winning 34-3 on Saturday for its second state title over Broomfield and fourth overall.
“We played a team that had great team speed, and it showed itself on the field,” Broomfield coach Blair Hubbard said. “They have great athletes on both sides of the ball. That’s just the way it played itself out as the game went on.”
Pine Creek’s defense was hard to solve for the Broomfield offense, which was held to 142 yards on 56 total plays in the loss.
Broomfield’s lone scoring drive came at the end of the first quarter and into the second with a nine-play drive that ended with a 29-yard field goal from Matthew Eich. The big play on the drive was a flip to wide receiver Grant Swenson, who then chucked the ball deep to Trey Ortega for a 46-yard gain, a play similar to the Philly Special pulled off by the Philadelphia Eagles from Super Bowl LII.
The trick play accounted for more than half of Broomfield’s 84 yards of total offense in the first half as they struggled to find running from up the middle or to the outside against Pine Creek.
“They are just big, mean boys,” Broomfield’s River Juarez said. “They are hard to block and hard to stay on.”
Despite the offensive woes, Broomfield remained close behind its defense and having success slowing down Pine Creek running back David Moore III and the run game.
Moore III ran the ball 30 times for 109 yards and two touchdowns, averaging less than 4 yards per carry. A couple of short runs on the second offensive drive moved the chains and led to his 1-yard plunge over the goal line. The focus of containing Moore III kept the deficit at 7-3 going into the halftime break for Broomfield.
“We came out with passion,” Juarez said. “We talked about passion all week and said the team that plays the hardest and the team that is the toughest always finds a way to win.”
Broomfield may have been keeping its eyes on Moore III, but that allowed quarterback Gavin Herberg to make some big plays with his feet. He kept the ball on a read-option and went for 52 yards to set up the touchdown drive in the first quarter. Another big run came on Pine Creek’s first offensive drive of the second half when he corralled a bad snap and broke to the outside for 53 yards. Four plays later, another read-option keeper broke for an 11-yard touchdown run, the first of three offensive scores in the half.
Herberg finished as the leading rusher in the game with 131 yards and a score, and he threw for 46 yards a touchdown — a 30-yard pass up the sideline to Eddie Kyle in the third quarter.
“We wanted to key on (Moore III) and not let him break away, but what that does in those situations is that it puts us one-on-one with their quarterback,” Hubbard said. “He was a good athlete and made plays when he needed to when it was there.”
Broomfield’s offensive struggles continued in the second half as it gained 34 yards in the third quarter and 25 yards in the fourth.
Caden Peters, the leading rusher in the state entering the week, finished with 74 yards on 25 carries while the rest of the team lost four yards combined on 14 rushes. Quarterback Zachary Kapushion completed 10 of 17 passes for 72 yards with an interception that was returned for a touchdown to provide the final points on the scoreboard.
Pine Creek would outgain Broomfield 319-142.
“We went in at halftime and felt we had this game,” Broomfield’s Joe DeCamillis said. “They came out and punched us in the face. They are a good football team. We did a good job responding in some ways, but it didn’t shake our way.”
The loss was the first of the season for Broomfield, and it prevented them from winning its first state title in football since 1984. But the team says that in the end, it was still a successful season with another trophy to bring home.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” DeCamillis said. “I’m going to miss my guys so much. We gave everything we got, and that’s all you could ask for.”