ARVADA — It was quality over quantity for Pomona in its Class 5A football state quarterfinal Friday night at NAAC.
The No. 4-seeded Panthers (10-2 record) used a handful of big offensive plays to take a 48-31 victory over No. 5 Fairview to advance to next week’s semifinals.
“We are explosive,” Pomona senior quarterback Ryan Marquez said after throwing five touchdowns. “Any person on our offense who touches the ball can score at any time.”
Marquez had long touchdown passes to junior Billy Pospisil (76 yards) and senior Riley Govan (69 yards) in the first half. A 59-yard touchdown run by senior Max Borghi gave the Panthers a 21-13 halftime lead.
The Panthers’ offense stayed hot in the second half. Marquez hit Pospisil for touchdowns of 23 and 16 yards sandwiched in between a 6-yard touchdown run by Fairview senior Mariano Kemp. Pomona led 35-20 through three quarters.
Pospisil was injured making a tackle from his safety position in the first quarter. He returned on offense in the second half. He said he was “good to go” after taking a break on the sideline.
“He (Pospisil) played great,” Pomona coach Jay Madden said. “That is one tough sucker.”
It was Marquez’s second game back after breaking his non-throwing arm Oct. 7 against Rock Canyon. Marquez had three touchdowns in his first game back last week in the Panthers’ playoff opener against Poudre.
“Originally they told me it was unlikely,” Marquez said about getting back on the field his senior season. “But I had a feeling I’d tough things out and make a comeback. I knew I couldn’t be away from this for that long.”
Fairview stayed within striking distance with a field goal early in the fourth quarter to cut the Panthers’ lead to 35-23, but Marquez connected with junior Colten Muller for a 23-yard touchdown to push it back to a 3-score game.
Muller actually filled in at quarterback for Marquez during his 4-game absence.
Borghi sealed the victory with a 90-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 48-23. Kemp scored a late touchdown for the Knights (10-2 record) to make the final score 48-31.
“If we execute we can do this every week,” Pospisil said of Pomona’s gash plays for touchdowns.
Next up for Pomona, Grandview on either Friday or Saturday next week at Legacy Stadium in Aurora.
The Wolves shocked Valor Christian 28-16 on the Eagles’ home field Friday night. Valor had won seven state football titles since 2009 — one 3A, two 4A and four 5A. The Eagles have played in a state championship game every season since 2009 with the loss to Creek in the 2014 being Valor’s only blemish.
“I was shocked,” Madden said when the final score was announced at NAAC during the fourth quarter. “I knew Grandview would be geared up for (Valor). Grandview is a heck of a football team and program. We just want to play another game and we got it.”
Valor had ended Pomona season the previous three years — twice in the 5A title game and once in the state quarterfinals.
“It’s exciting. We are so used to playing them the last couple of year. It will be a change up,” Borghi said. “We just have to do our jobs and focus on Grandview all next week. We have to attack them right.”
Pomona is looking to get back to its third straight 5A title game. Jeffco rival Columbine won its semifinal Friday night and will face the winner of Cherry Creek and Eaglecrest next week in the other semifinal.
“Our sites are on Grandview,” Marquez said. “They beat up on Valor tonight. We’ve got to be ready to go and firing on all cylinders next week.”