The bracket got it right; the two best teams in Colorado 5A football will meet today in Denver as 12-0 Boulder Fairview faces 12-1 Valor Christian. Despite being the lower seed Valor Christian, in a quest to win its fifth straight title, is the overwhelming favorite to win this game. Fairview, senior laden and possessing big playmakers may have a shot at making this game interesting. Here is a look at what to watch for in this title game.
1. Fairview's defense vs. Valor's offensive line
Christian McCaffrey is putting the bow on a great senior season that is part of one of the best careers in Colorado prep football history. As great as the Stanford bound back is, much of this would not have been accomplished if not for the play of this year's Valor offensive line. Boasting five seniors, each of whom will play on Saturdays, and averaging 290 pounds a man, this unit is key for the Eagles. Pass blocking or creating holes, no defensive front has held up this year. Countering is a Fairview defensive interior that has played better football of late. Connor Spencer and super soph Carlo Kemp have to hold tight, no easy order. Linebackers Luke Miller, Daniel Hoskins and Bobby Johnson need to keep McCaffrey from turning small gains into big plays.
2. Juniors vs. Seniors
The best matchup of the day is Valor's junior corners Eric Lee and Brian Dawkins against Fairview's prolific senior receivers Sam Martin and Cameron Frazier. Lee and Dawkins are one of the best corner tandems in the class of 2015, while Martin and Frazier have combined for 168 receptions and 28 TDs this season. This matchup is key in that for Fairview to stay in this game they have to some big plays on the Valor secondary.
3. Hill vs. Cecil
Along with McCaffrey of Valor, Fairview QB Anders Hill is a Player of the Year candidate for the 2013 season. The senior QB has over 3,600 yards while throwing 35 TDs. Of late Hill has put his athleticism on display running the ball in playoffs wins against Pomona and Douglas County. Hill will need to put his feet to work as he faces the pressure from an underrated Valor defensive line. Since a two week period early in the season that saw Hill throw five INTs the senior has taken very good care of the ball throwing only one interception thus far in the playoffs. Valor senior A.J. Cecil has quietly had a huge season completing over 70% of his passes while posting nearly 2,400 combined yards. Hitting passes on play action is Cecil's wheel house this season. Last week Cecil threw two interceptions in the victory over Cherokee Trail.
4.McCaffrey vs. Frazier
Both seniors have the knack for big plays on special teams at the right time. McCaffrey averages nearly 30 yards per punt return. Cameron Frazier of Fairview has scored four times this season on returns. If Frazier pops a big return, especially for a score, this game will get interesting.
5.Champs vs. Runner Ups
I see a fifth straight title for Valor. Fairview can compete and will score points, but too many big plays have to occur against a Valor defense that has not allowed over 23 points in a single game this season for the Knights to get the win. Further, the Fairview defense, especially up front, will have a tough time holding up against the Valor offensive line. Look for a good game early but later for the Valor offensive line to impose its will as the Eagles win 42-24.