DYNASTY: Valor makes it 5 in a row
Valor Christian’s players held up one hand as they gathered near the goalposts under the Sports Authority Field scoreboard.
It was the Eagles’ adaptation of a high five.
Valor won its fifth consecutive Colorado state football championship Nov. 30 with a 56-16 romp over previously unbeaten Fairview in the Class 5A championship game.
The Eagles have captured one Class 3A title, two Class 4A crowns and now the past two Class 5A state championships. In the five title contests, Valor outscored the opposition, 210-48.
Next season Valor will have its sights set on matching Limon’s all-time Colorado record of six consecutive state titles. The Badgers won six in a row between 1963-68.
Valor will graduate 19 seniors, but 60 players listed on the roster for the state championship game were underclassmen and a majority of them saw action during the season.
“I’m not sure about the future outside of we feel blessed to have some kids in our program who are great leaders, mature, humble and we expect them to fill the gap of leadership left by our seniors,” said Eagles coach Rod Sherman.
“We’ll see where we end up next year from an offensive and defensive standpoint. We have developed a legacy and tradition in this program. It’s not about winning, it’s about being prepared, playing as hard as we can and playing with class.”
Valor, an independent, could end up playing in the Centennial League in 2014. There are six alignment proposals to be considered Dec. 5 and five of them have the Eagles joining the Centennial League.
“Definitely, this team can keep winning,” insisted junior defensive back Brian Dawkins Jr. “All I have to say is, bring it on.”
Valor brought it on early and often against Fairview as the Eagles (13-1) dominated from the opening kickoff with a strong defense that contained the Knights’ prolific passing attack and an offense that struck quickly but also mounted scoring drives of 80 (twice) and 71 yards.
The Eagles never punted in the title game that drew a crowd of 11,482 fans.
Valor kept pressure on Fairview quarterback Anders Hill and scored three times on its first four plays to jump ahead 21-0 in the first 6:10 of the game. The Eagles used a 35-point spree to swell their lead to 56-8 in the fourth quarter.
The last 21:34 of the contest was played with a running clock, and Sherman shuffled reserves into the game midway through the third quarter.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought the score would have got this way,” said Sherman. “We played great defense. We were able to bring some different pressures. We were able to go up 14-0 and it made it harder for their offense and defense. It was huge for us to get the lead because they hadn’t had to play from behind too much.”
Valor’s offense, operating behind a stellar line, did its part too.
Christian McCaffrey, Valor’s senior running back who signed a letter of intent to play at Stanford, rushed for 129 yards on 12 carries and scored twice. He also caught five passes for 92 yards and two TDs. In the second half, he touched the ball only once.
McCaffrey finished the season with 46 touchdowns, which gave him 141 in his career. He wrapped up his prep career by scoring at least one TD in 43 straight games.
“I so happy, I can’t express how I feel,” said McCaffrey who was part of the senior class that won four state titles. “All our guys played well. Going out with a broom is something kind of special.”
Quarterback A.J. Cecil was 15-of-16 for 245 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed for 65 yards and his only flaws on an otherwise perfect game were an interception and fumble.
“I thought A.J. played arguably his best game of the year,” said Sherman.
Valor senior Paul Grizzle, in his first season as a kicker, booted eight extra-point kicks, giving him single-season state records for points (85) and consecutive conversions.
Eric Lee Jr., Marcus Wilson, Stone Watson and Nathan Whatmore also had TDs for the Eagles, who have won 22 straight state playoff games.
Valor’s defense forced three turnovers and thwarted a Fairview offense that came into the game averaging 45 points. The Knights had defeated three Douglas County teams (Mountain Vista, Douglas County and ThunderRidge) en route to the title game.
Fairview, which had passed for an average of 315.5 yards per game, had 208 yards passing but finished with 199 yards of total offense on 63 plays. The Knights had minus 9 yards rushing as Valor, the No. 2 seed, had seven sacks.
The top-seeded Knights held a 36:38-26:22 edge in time of possession and ran 14 more offensive plays than the Eagles, who finished with 523 yards of total offense.
“We respect Valor,” said Fairview coach Tom McCartney. “They were tremendous in every aspect of the game. The reason the score got out of hand was Valor’s play, because we came into the game ready and prepared. We may not have taken care of the ball like we usually do, but give them credit because they played an outstanding game on both sides of the ball.”
Valor’s only loss of the season came by a field goal at the hands of Bingham, a Utah high school that won that state’s large-school championship.