There are common factors to success at any level of football, but one of the most crucial is quarterback play. This fact is supported by the high profile quarterbacks that will lead teams this weekend in multiple divisions of the Colorado state football playoffs. Each quarterback brings a very different skill set, but each shares experience and a history of winning.
In the 5A final between unbeaten Mullen and 12-1 Pomona, two very good quarterbacks face off. For Mullen, 6-2 205 pound Syracuse bound Jonny Miller leads the way. Miller’s journey at Mullen has been an interesting ride. As a strong armed sophomore, Miller became the Mustang’s starter looking good and leading his squad to wins before he was sidelined due to injury. Last season, as Mullen worked its way to a state title, Miller split time with senior Tim Tancik. After a strong offseason that saw Miller do very well on the camp circuit gaining multiple DI offers before settling on the Orangemen, Miller guided the Mustangs to a very strong season and shot at the repeat. Never spectacular but always solid this season, Miller managed his talented squad. Last week in a convincing win over Arvada West, Miller posted a complete game scoring three times in a 27-0 victory.
Not as heralded, but every bit as effective, Pomona senior signal caller Nathan Grimes is a key reason the Panthers are in the final. Not the biggest or the fastest on the field, Grimes’ versatile, smart and efficient style more than gets the job done. Last week, in a win over previously unbeaten Fairview, Grimes turned in a performance that combined great running and great throwing as he had close to 400 yards of offense. Often overshadowed in a Big 8 league that boasts Sam Stratton, Danny Spond , Zach Thenell and Gavin Glanz at the quarterback position, Grimes is the last QB standing.
The 4A final between Longmont and Heritage showcases what could be the state’s two best dual threat QBs. Longmont’s Jake Johnson, a 6-2 225 pound bruiser who is garnering DI attention at multiple positions can beat you with his arm or his legs. In a quarterfinal matchup against a talented Pine Creek squad, Johnson passed for over 400 yards, while this past week, in a semifinal win over defending 4A champ wheat ridge, Johnson rushed for over 140 yards. Thus far in playoffs, Johnson has posted and astounding 900 plus yards of offense.
As diverse as Johnson is he may not have all the skills of Heritage quarterback Mitch Griebel. Griebel, a four year varsity starter, punts, returns kicks and plays defensive back, all while posting terrific numbers at QB. Griebel throws and runs with equal skill and has the knack for the right play at the right time which may be a pre req for the Head Coach’s son.
In the 3A final between Steamboat Springs and Valor Christian, Colorado’s top recruit for the class of 2010, Austin Hinder of Steamboat faces off against junior and potential D1 recruit Brock Berglund of Valor Christian. Hinder, with all the hype of his recruitment behind him after the early commit to Cal has put together a very strong senior season highlighted by an undefeated run to the title game. Berglund, a 6-3 195 pound specimen has ran and passed his squad to the title game leading his team in rushing and passing yards.
Win or lose, the great thing about this group is there is a very strong chance we will get to see them play again as they all will take their game to the college level.