South Metro football players of the year: McCaffrey, Zemla soared with the Eagles

Players of the year from Valor headline All-South Metro team


Luke McCaffrey and Ethan Zemla were dual threats for the state champion Valor Christian football team and headline the Colorado Community Media All-South Metro football team.

The 26-player team was selected with the assistance of area coaches. Players were eligible from schools in the Douglas County and Littleton districts, plus Valor Christian, Cherry Creek, Englewood and Lutheran high schools.

McCaffrey, the senior quarterback who has committed to play football at Nebraska, is the 2018 Offensive Player of the Year and joins his older brothers Christian and Dylan as CCM Players of the Year.

Zemla, a senior who will continue his education and play football for the University of Pennsylvania, was named the South Metro Defensive Player of the Year.

McCaffrey was double trouble for defenses that attempted to contain him. He passed for 2,202 yards and 21 touchdowns in helping the Eagles win the state 5A championship. And, he often kept plays and drives alive with his running ability as he rushed for 526 yards and eight TDs.

“I thought it was a real good year and I was able to grow a lot because of the people around me that challenged me," he said. "From an expectations standpoint, I lived up to what I wanted for the year because we reached the final goal to go undefeated and win state.”

Zemla always seemed to be involved in tackles from his linebacker position, but he said he took one for the team when he agreed to be the team's left guard on offense because the Eagles started the season without players ready to play along the line of scrimmage.

“I thought I played great, especially having to play both sides of the ball,” Zemla said. “I really had to push myself to keep going. Defensively I felt I played really well.”

Zemla ended the season with 149 total tackles, including 94 solo stops. He was in on 8.5 quarterback sacks.


Quarterback: Luke McCaffrey, 6-3,190, senior, Valor Christian

He helped lead Valor to the state title with his passing and running as he wound up with 2,728 total yards.

Quarterback: Alex Padilla 6-2, 195, senior, Cherry Creek

The Iowa commit passed for 1,892 yards, completed 69.7 percent of his attempts, threw for 24 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

Running back: Spencer Lambert, 5-9, 190, senior, ThunderRidge

He led the 5A Metro South League with 1,614 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. He had 2,118 total yards.

Running back: Cole Oster, 6-1, 210, senior, Castle View

The Montana State commit rushed for 1,029 yards and was a force on defense as a safety with 64 tackles and six sacks.

Receiver: Terrance Ferguson, 6-5, 200, sophomore, Heritage

Led the 4A Metro League and was fourth in the state with 69 receptions for 972 yards and nine TDs.

Receiver: Kaiden Keefe, 6-2, 165, junior, Valor Christian

He averaged 14.8 yards on 54 catches and his 741 receiving yards led the team. He also returned punts.

Receiver: Chase Pendry, 6-2, 185, sophomore, Cherry Creek

Stepped up for injured Marcus Miller and led the 5A Metro East League in receiving with 56 catches for 704 yards and seven TDs.

Offensive line: Austin Johnson, 6-4, 280, senior, Highlands Ranch

He committed to Colorado and along with Drake Nugent gave the Falcons two of the most highly regarded linemen in the state.

Offensive line: Michael Lynn, 6-7, 300, senior, Cherry Creek

The anchor on the Bruins' offensive line has committed to play at Nebraska.

Offensive line: Roger Rosengarten, 6-7, 275, junior, Valor Christian

Strong man on the offensive line and came up big on defense in the state title game.

Offensive Line: Carson Lee, 6-4, 300, junior, Cherry Creek

A highly regarded lineman who was a controlling force on the offensive line for the Bruins.

Utility: Ryan Gilmore, 6-2, 180, senior, ThunderRidge

The quarterback accounted for 246.1 yards of offense per game with 1,853 passing and 1,048 rushing. He figured in on 29 TDs.


Defensive line: Sam Motzkus, 6-1, 180, senior, ThunderRidge

The undersized DE played big with 11.5 sacks for 78 yards lost, 18 hurries and 57 tackles.

Defensive line: Cian Quiroga, 6-2, 215, senior, Valor Christian

He was dominating inside the DL. He had 12 sacks, two hurries and 74 tackles.

Defensive line: Andrew Grout, 6-4, 285, senior, Castle View

Two-way lineman who was a force offensively and just as tough when moved to defense.

Linebacker: Ethan Zemla, 6-3, 225, senior, Valor Christian

5A Metro South League leader with 149 total tackles. He had 8.5 sacks and led 5A with 94 solo tackles.

Linebacker: Ethan Frasier, 6-1, 220, senior, ThunderRidge

The team captain was a defensive leader with 140 total tackles and four sacks.

Linebacker: Ryder Blair, 6-1, 205, senior, Ponderosa

He was the state 4A leader with 158 total tackles (12.2 per game) and had nine sacks, fifth in the state.

Linebacker: Alec Pell, 6-4, 230, senior, Cherry Creek

A Colorado recruit, he was in on 83 tackles, including five for loss and six sacks.

Defensive back: Tizell Lewis, 6-0, 165, senior, Chaparral

The versatile player had 58 tackles on defense, three interceptions and two passes defended.

Defensive back: Chase Lopez, 5-11, 175, junior, Valor Christian

A big-play performer who had three interceptions, 65 tackles and 35 pass receptions.

Defensive back: Myles Purchase, 5-9, 170, sophomore, Cherry Creek

He was a standout in the state title game and ended the season with 53 total tackles and six interceptions.

Defensive back: Jack Howell, 5-11, 170, sophomore, Valor Christian

A versatile player who was also a running back, receiver and returner. He was in on 79 tackles and made three interceptions.


Punter: Carson Smail, 6-0, 190, senior, Cherry Creek

He averaged 37.0 yards on 29 punts with eight inside the 20-yard line

Placekicker: Max Welch, 6-2, 200, senior, ThunderRidge

He finished with 68 kick-scoring points on 44 extra point kicks and eight field goals.

Returner: Collin Romero, 5-9, 160, senior Rock Canyon

The slot back averaged 85.3 yards a game receiving, was third in 5A with 644 total return yards, 555 of which came on kickoff returns.


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