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Four downs: BoCoPreps-Loveland Reporter-Herald roundtable on 4A state title game

Broomfield's Luke Francis celebrates a touchdown against Erie during a Class 4A State Football semifinal game in Broomfield on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
Broomfield’s Luke Francis celebrates a touchdown against Erie during a Class 4A State Football semifinal game in Broomfield on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:’s Alissa Noe and Brent W. New catch up with the Loveland Reporter-Herald’s Nathan Wright to discuss this Saturday’s 4A championship game between No. 2 Broomfield and No. 4 Loveland.

Do any of us have sense in what we’re talking about? Find out our thoughts below.

Kickoff at Empower Field at Mile High is scheduled for 11 a.m. The game will be broadcasted on Altitude Sports and will be streamed on the NFHS Network.

And for a preview on Broomfield ahead of the game, check this out.

1. Fill in the blank: The 2022 4A football season has been _____.

Alissa Noe (BoCoPreps): Thrilling. We’ve seen major upsets across the board, especially during the postseason, and we’ve gotten a glimpse of some really great quarterbacks like Broomfield’s Cole LaCrue and Erie’s Blake Barnett.

Nathan Wright (Loveland Reporter-Herald): Intense. As the playoffs reached the late rounds, several games were decided in the final quarter, sometimes in the final minutes. Just last weekend, Loveland needed to make a couple of big defensive plays in the closing moments to secure its spot in the final and the week before, the Red Wolves scored the winning touchdown with just over a minute remaining.

Brent W. New (BoCoPreps): One for the ages. No, the University of Colorado didn’t need to tank to try and land the services of Broomfield quarterback Cole LaCrue or Erie’s Blake Barnett. This isn’t the NFL, fellas.

But LaCrue (the one who got away) and Barnett (the junior still in play for the Buffs) were absolutely mesmerizing this fall. So much so, the area may never see that kind quarterback play in the same year ever again.

2. Who is one player who maybe hasn’t gotten a huge spotlight who you expect to have a big game Saturday?

Alissa Noe (BoCoPreps): Broomfield senior Garrett Keeler. He’s proven he can show up in big games, as evidenced by his game-saving play against Erie last week.

To date, he’s accumulated 97 tackles and five sacks and has become the mainstay of Broomfield’s defense.

Nathan Wright (Loveland Reporter-Herald): Caden Stansbury. The Red Wolves’ junior defensive end had another big defensive play last week with a strip sack of Palmer Ridge quarterback Derek Hester in the game’s closing minutes. He leads the team in sacks (5), caused fumbles (3), fumble recoveries (4) and has an interception.

Brent W. New (BoCoPreps): Give me Broomfield running back Luke Francis. Four of his 11 rushing TDs have come in the postseason. And in three of the last four games, he has rushed for more than 100 yards.

In a game that screams ground-and-pound, I’d guess Francis has around 20 touches. And if I were to wager, which I won’t (integrity and all) — but if I did, I’d say the senior scores the first touchdown of the game.

3. Who has the edge at first glance? Undefeated Broomfield? Or a Loveland that hasn’t lost since Week 1?

Alissa Noe (BoCoPreps): Broomfield. The Eagles have proven time and again that they can take down any team in the state.

Three weeks after Heritage gave them their closest matchup of the season — a 17-13 nail-biter — they turned around and smacked them in the quarterfinals in the playoffs. Every time their defense has been tested, they come through in the end. And Cole LaCrue’s offense has been versatile in every situation it has faced.

Nathan Wright (Loveland Reporter-Herald):  Loveland. The Red Wolves’ offense averages just under 40 points per game, but their defense is what could give them the edge Saturday. In 13 games this season, Loveland has five shutouts and has held six others to 15 points or less.

Brent W. New (BoCoPreps): I am convinced Loveland is the best team at making the team they’re playing play its absolute worst. I saw it covering Colorado Springs teams. I saw it when the Red Wolves beat Skyline 62-14 in the 2018 title game.

And then what did they do to No. 1 Palmer Ridge last weekend? A mucky 10-7 victory for the kings of muckiness.

But then there’s Broomfield. From LaCrue to Francis to Keeler to Canon Juarez to Devin Furuiye to Brent Harris to Mikhail Benner, on and on — they’re just this team full of “dudes” who seem to have this unquestioned trust in one another. Even in the tough spots.

Hard to bet against that.

4. Give me a bold prediction.

Alissa Noe (BoCoPreps): This contest will come down to a battle of the defenses, and each team will have to spend much of the first half figuring out how to score on the other. Whoever can figure that out first will take home the crown.

Nathan Wright (Loveland Reporter-Herald): Turnovers will figure into the final outcome. This could turn out to be a defensive battle and if it does, the unit that comes up with one or more takeaways will end up hoisting the championship trophy.

Brent W. New (BoCoPreps): The game will be decided by a 2-point conversion in the fourth quarter. Is it bold if I don’t say which team? Anyway, it’ll be a far closer game than the Class 5A’s 400th running of a Cherry Creek-Valor Christian title game.