Take a drive up Interstate 70 past the flashing casino lights of Black Hawk.

Through the tunnel carved into the mountain, there's a grass field just off the highway with the word, "GOLDDIGGERS" painted in yellow lettering on a blue cement wall. Metal bleachers — no more than 10 rows deep — sit behind that wall. You can't miss it.

This grass field off I-70 is where Clear Creek quarterback Ty Judge has made his name.

"I think he's established something for all Clear Creek quarterbacks to come," Clear Creek coach Brian Inman said this week. "He's that quarterback to aspire to be. Clear Creek has never had a quarterback that has been as dynamic as he has been throwing the ball.

"He's set his own records and broken every record that we've ever had for a quarterback in terms of throwing and touchdown passes."

Judge, in his senior season, has Clear Creek in the top ten of Class 1A. A 62-42 win last week against then-No. 8 Platte Canyon vaulted the Golddiggers (7-1) into the rankings.

"He had a phenomenal game. Probably the best of his career," Inman said. "It was definitely the biggest win that I've had since I've been at Clear Creek."

Judge threw for 470 yards and seven touchdowns in the game, bringing his season total to 2,416 yards and 31 touchdowns. Both those numbers lead the state.

Judge has thrown just six interceptions this season, which he attributes to being a four-year starter.

"It's all about maturity, it really is," Judge said. "The more experience you have, the better you get at looking through your progressions and checking down your receivers, seeing where the coverage is, knowing where the ball should go and being able to make those decisions quick."

The stats aren't what jump out to Inman. Rather, it's his intangibles. His leadership, his fire.

"His tenacity and his desire to win," Inman said on what makes Judge stand out. "He's got a strong desire to do well for himself and for his teammates, and ultimately for his school. I think you see that in how he plays and how he acts.

"He's one of those kids that does everything that you want as a coach as far as, you talk to him about what you want the next year or the next week, and he makes it happen."

Clear Creek football Ty Judge

(Courtesy of Clear Creek high school yearbook)

As a senior quarterback, Judge can be expected to be a leader. He has to be. But, Judge goes the extra mile in terms of leadership.

"Your quarterback is going to be your natural leader," Inman said. "He goes above and beyond that. He excels on the field, he excels in the classroom, he does a good job of leading by example."

It's not just leadership where Judge goes the extra mile.

Judge pours over film. Every play, every game, Judge watches it. He's all about the mental side of football and is reaping the success that comes from preparation.

"I probably watch film in class more than I probably should,"Judge admitted. "We watch film at least three times a week, sometimes more as a team. Me personally, I try and watch it every day."

Added Inman: "When it comes time to watch game film, he just sits there and breaks it down. He's a kid that can play at the next level and do very well. He's always looking to up his game."

Judge has etched a legacy at Clear Creek individually. Now, it's time for the team to carve out theirs.

"That's what all the seniors are playing for this year," Judge said. "We've got a bunch of really talented kids and we're all looking to get up on the first team all-state board that's right next to the gym. To be remembered in a positive way."

The success this year comes down to a connection between Judge and his receivers.

"Starting over the summer, it got there quick," Judge said on his relationship with the receiver corps. "Noah (Sarria) and I have always been on the same page. He's always been the big target. Lucas (Gerding) and I really connected over the summer and we worked a lot together. Same with Christian (Lemishko)."

"And then when we got Slayten (Weber) from Texas at the start of the school year, he was able to put in a lot of work so we could get on the same page before the season started," Judge continued. "The connection is there with just about everybody."

It's not happenstance for the season to come together the way it has so far in Judge's senior year. 

"Ever since he was a freshman, he's just worked very hard to get better," Inman said. "He's spent a lot of time in the weight room, he's spent a lot of time studying and learning more about the game of football. Learning how to beat different coverages. He's done everything that you'd want from a kid to make himself better.

"Every year, he's gotten a little bit better, a little bit stronger, a little bit smarter. As a senior, he's had an outstanding year."

A 7-1 start has the Golddiggers riding high. The team's only loss this year is to No. 1 Bennett. Clear Creek finishes the season with an away game at Front Range Christian.

A win would give Clear Creek its best regular season finish since at least 2004.

"We're looking to win out," Judge said. "If we do that, hopefully we'll have first round at home in the playoffs, which hasn't happened in probably upwards of 20 years here. We're looking for the state championship, but you can't look that far ahead. You have to take it one game at a time." 

All that would do is cement the legacy that Ty Judge has created even further.

"Hopefully the legacy he leaves is one for younger athletes to aspire to become a great quarterback at Clear Creek," Inman said.