It would be tough to find a better game played than that of the Valor Christian backfield of Christian McCaffrey and Luke Del Rio. The running back and quarterback made short work of previously #1 ranked ThunderRidge 49-3 in the 5A semifinal Friday night. Del Rio, flirted with perfection going 16 of 17 with four scores. McCaffrey accounted for five TDs in is typical versatile fashion rushing for two scores, catching two passes and returning a punt.
Three quarterbacks that do not receive as much attention as Del Rio but are no less important to their team’s success are juniors Aric Johnson, Ben Sjobakken and senior Malik Tollerson. Johnson of Cherokee Trail has been a steady dual threat all season for his underappreciated Cherokee Trail squad. Next week, Johnson will need to continue spreading the wealth for the Cougar offense in an attempt to keep the talented Valor defense off its footing. Sjobakken has managed the Silver Creek offense superbly throwing only two interceptions on the season. Tollerson of South has carried much of the offensive burden this season since the injury of running back Phillip Lindsay. All three QBs have moved their teams to the final to the surprise of many observers.
Two of the state’s best backs battled it out Saturday as Monarch and Pueblo West banged away at each other in the 4A semi. When the dust settled, Monarch using long drives and stout D bested #1 seed Pueblo West 14-6. In the loss, Derek Jackson had 196 rush yards, in theory a down game for a back that has posted five straight 300 yards games. For Monarch junior Ethan Marks rushed for 164 yards.
Ryan Moeller rushed for 205 yards in a 56-6 win over Pueblo East, spearheading the strong Rifle run attack to move the 13-0 Bears to the 3A state title game next week against Silver Creek.
DT Stanley Gilbert, a four year starter for Valor, has once again made running the ball versus the Eagles a nearly impossible task. Undersized at 5-11, hopefully some smart school will get on board with this dominant defender.
As always the Monarch offensive line. Austin Beswick, Josh Hurst and crew blocked for long drives yesterday that kept record breaking Pueblo West RB Derek Jackson off the field.
For Silver Creek underclassmen Andre Apodaca, a linebacker, safety Ross Fitzgerald and defensive end Jeremy Metivier have made plays helping the Raptor D become one of the best units in the state on the way to the title game.
Rifle junior runner Kellin Leigh has rushed for over 1,000 yards this season forcing opposing defenses to honor him as a runner and take some emphasis off stopping senior star Ryan Moeller.