Class 5A football playoffs: Pomona rolls over Eaglecrest, 49-19, for semifinal berth against Cherry Creek

HIGHLANDS RANCH — The attitude of Pomona football is best defined by the playing attire of quarterback Jack Pospisil in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs as temperatures dropped into the low-40s with bitter steady wind gusts.

No long sleeves. No gloves. All heart.

“We’re not the biggest team,” said Pospisil, a 5-foot-9 bulldog of a quarterback. “We just want it more.”

No. 4 Pomona proved it Friday night at Valor Stadium with a dominating 49-19 victory against No. 5 Eaglecrest. The Panthers move on to face top-ranked Cherry Creek in the semifinals next week.

Pomona (7-0) advanced thanks to a dynamic ground game with five different players rushing for touchdowns. Their success increased as the game continued and Eaglecrest (4-3) wore down.

The Panthers feature five running backs — Ben Cruz, Ian Dexter, Chase Muller, Dominick Nichols and AJ Zamora — in addition to Pospisil’s ultra-effective abilities in the quarterback run-option game. On Friday, Nichols recorded three touchdowns (one receiving) plus one interception while playing defense.

“We have five of the greatest running backs any one team has ever had I think,” Pomona coach Jay Madden said. “They’ve all got different things that they’re good at … and they all played defense, too, except for one of them. They do everything for us.”

Pomona nerves were on edge midway through the second quarter, though, when Eaglecrest quarterback Khalil Howard connected on a 39-yard touchdown completion to senior wide receiver/safety Seyi Oladipo — a Boise State commit. Eaglecrest took a 13-7 lead. But Pomona never panicked.

“Just keep fighting,” Madden said. “We knew it could be a roller coaster ride. But we got used to their speed and started getting pressure on the quarterback.  Our offense let our defense relax because we knew we were going to score points.”

No kidding. Pomona flipped the switch and scored 35 unanswered points. Pospisil, on the night he turned 18, rushed and threw for a touchdown. Then Pomona teammates sang him happy birthday in the postgame huddle.

“We just got on a roll,” Pospisil said. “Our O-line was doing a fantastic job making great holes and our running backs were hitting it hard. When we get on a roll like that, we’re hard to stop. It was just a great night.”

Pomona’s quest to stay undefeated meets its greatest challenge yet against Cherry Creek (7-0) for a chance to play in the Class 5A state championship game. The Panthers last won it all in 2017. Can they do it again in 2020?

“I’m really, really proud of this group,” Madden said. “We always talk about overachieving. They’re doing that.”

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