As the game entered the last 10 minutes, defensive coach Tom Doherty rallies his players to keep fighting. Unfortunately, the Bruins ended up losing to Valor Christian 24-14.
BY FREDA MIKLIN
Cherry Creek High School’s (CCHS) football team last won the state championship game in 2014 following an 18-year drought, so returning to the final game of the season after just four years was a great accomplishment. Coming in with a 12-1 record, having lost only once this year to Grandview, they faced sports powerhouse Valor Christian High School, who arrived with a perfect 13-0 streak achieved under its first-year coach, former Denver Broncos wide receiver and father of four incredibly talented football-playing sons, Ed McCaffrey.
Standing on a cold sideline on the field at Broncos Stadium at Mile High with Jason Wilkins, CCHS athletic director, The Villager watched Creek put up a valiant effort against Valor, who had its foot on the gas pedal from the start and barely let up.
Valor scored first with a touchdown with just over a minute left in the first quarter. They scored another touchdown two minutes into the second quarter before Creek running back Seamus Henderson finally found the end zone six minutes later, followed by an unplanned two-point conversion when the snap to kicker Mac Willis for the extra point went awry and Willis grabbed the ball and ran in into the end zone. The half ended with Creek looking like they were back in the game, down 14-8.
Valor started the second half with a 10-yard pass by Lisa and Ed McCaffrey’s youngest son, senior quarterback Luke. The Nebraska-commit moved the ball down the field despite good tackling by Creek sophomore Myles Purchase and senior Marcus Miller, leading to a turnover on downs. Creek’s Iowa-bound quarterback Alex Padilla completed a long pass to senior Vance Brazile before play stalled and Creek had to punt, followed by another Valor touchdown. With the score 21-8 and five minutes to go in the third quarter, Padilla moved his team to the Valor 23-yard line. It looked like the game was about to get close when a Padilla pass was tipped into the hands of Valor’s 6’7”, 275-pound defensive tackle Roger Rosengarten for the interception. Although Creek scored a late touchdown with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, they never looked like a strong threat to Valor after the turnover.
Creek players came to play, but they couldn’t hold back Valor Christian.
Creek’s coaches worked hard keeping up their players spirits and fight up until the end as the weather got colder and the season came to a close. The final score was 24-14, with Valor Christian winning its eighth state title in the 10 years since it first had upperclassmen (2009) after the school opened in 2007. The only other state championship football game Valor has ever lost was to Cherry Creek in 2014. They were eliminated in the quarter-finals last year before Ed McCaffrey took over as head coach.
Describing itself as an independent decidedly Christian school, Valor sits high on a hill on an expansive beautiful 35-acre campus in Highlands Ranch. Niche.com, a 16-year-old recognized ranking and review site, puts Valor Christian’s high school sports program as No. 1 out of 408 high schools in Colorado and No. 8 out of 24,014 high schools in the U.S. Niche.com ranks Valor’s academics as high as its athletics at A+. The school won the coveted Blue Ribbon Award from the U.S. Department of Education in 2015, one of only three private high schools in the U.S. to have done so. Its grade for diversity, according to niche.com, is B-.
What gives rise to Valor’s top ratings in high school sports is its astounding and almost statistically incomprehensible performance in sports. With a total student population of 1130 (according to Wikipedia; the schools’ web site does not disclose enrollment numbers), Valor competes in 23 Colorado High School Athletic Association (CHSAA)-sanctioned sports, along with five club sports. In the 10 years since Valor has had upperclassmen, its teams have reached state championship games 49 times in 8 boys’ and 8 girls’ CHHSA-sanctioned sports.
Creek’s cheerleaders gave their all to keep fans’ spirits up. Photos by Freda Miklin
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