HIGHLANDS RANCH – The attitude of Pomona football is best defined by quarterback Jack Pospisil’s playwear in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs as the temperature dropped into the low-40s with bitter, steady gusts of wind.
No long sleeves. No gloves. Very heart.
“We’re not the biggest team,” said Pospisil, a quarterback’s five-foot bulldog. “We just want it more.”
Fourth-seeded Pomona proved it Friday night at Valor Stadium with a dominant 49-19 win against No. 5 Eaglecrest. The Panthers will face Cherry Creek in the semi-finals next week.
Pomona (7-0) continued thanks to a dynamic ground game with five different players rushing to hit touchdowns. Their success increased as the game progressed and Eaglecrest (4-3) declined.
The Panthers have five running backs – Ben Cruz, Ian Dexter, Chase Muller, Dominick Nichols, and AJ Zamora – in addition to Pospisil’s ultra-effective skills in the quarterback run-option game. On Friday, Nichols recorded three touchdowns (one received) plus one interception while defending.
“I think we have five of the best running backs a team has ever had,” said Pomona coach Jay Madden. “They all have different things that they are good at… and they all played defense, except one of them. They do everything for us. “
Pomona’s nerves were on edge in the middle of the second quarter, however, when Eaglecrest quarterback Khalil Howard made contact with senior wide receiver / safety Seyi Oladipo on completing a 39-yard touchdown – a commitment from Boise State. Eaglecrest took a 13-7 lead. But Pomona never panic.
“Just keep fighting,” Madden said. ‘We knew it could be a rollercoaster ride. But we got used to their speed and started putting pressure on the quarterback. Our attack relaxed our defense, knowing we would score points. “
No joke. Pomona flipped the switch and scored 35 straight points. Pospisil, on the night he turned 18, rushed and threw for a touchdown. Then Pomona teammates sang him happy birthday in the group after the game.
“We’ve just started,” said Pospisil. “Our O-line did a fantastic job making great holes and our running backs hit it hard. When we get going like this, it’s hard to stop. It was just a great night. “
Pomona’s quest to remain undefeated meets its biggest challenge yet against Cherry Creek (7-0) for a chance to play in the Class 5A state championship. The Panthers won it all in 2017. Can they do it again in 2020?
“I am really proud of this group,” said Madden. “We are always talking about over-performance. They do. “