DENVER -- Saturday looks to be an offensive showdown for the Class 5A football championship.
Both coaches of the finalists, from Fairview and Valor Christian, praised their opponent's offense on Tuesday morning at the annual press conference held in advance of the Class 4A and 5A championship football games at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
It makes sense: Valor Christian (602 total points, 46.3 per game) and Fairview (540 points, 45.0 per game) are the two highest-scoring offenses in Colorado, regardless of class.
"Much is known about their prolific passing offense, but also being able to run the ball when they need to do that, "Valor Christian coach Rod Sherman said of Fairview. "Exceptional quarterback, receivers all over the field that can make plays -- I think it's going to be quite a track meet on Saturday."
Fairview wide receiver Sam Martin has already set the single season record for receiving yardage -- he's up to 1,719 -- and the Knights also have weapons like Cam Frazier (20 total touchdowns), Daniel Hoskins (seven scores), Jason Harvey (six) and Owen Harris (three).
Of course, there's also quarterback Anders Hill, who has thrown for a state-best 3,659 yards and 35 touchdowns.
"I feel like their quarterback is the best quarterback in the state," Sherman said. "He doesn't miss open guys and can thread the needle."
Valor Christian, meanwhile, has scored 86 total touchdowns, a figure that tops the state. (Fairview is second with 72.) The Eagles are led by senior do-everything back Christian McCaffrey, whose 42 total touchdowns lead Colorado.
"Valor scores a lot of points, and they don't give up much," Fairview coach Tom McCartney said. "They have great size, they have great speed. They love to give the ball to No. 5 (McCaffrey), and that's pretty smart. That's probably what we would do, too.
"Offensively, you've got to be prepared for so many different things. Sometimes, we'll see (McCaffrey) to the right, sometimes we'll see him to the left, sometimes we'll see him in the backfield. Sometimes, the quarterback will take off and (McCaffrey is) now the quarterback. So there's a lot going on with him, and we have tremendous respect for him."
Valor quarterback A.J. Cecil has thrown for 1,974 yards this season and 29 touchdowns. He also has 406 rushing yards and eight scores.
"Their quarterback, he can hurt you with his arm, he can hurt with with his feet," McCartney said. "So they have so many different things they can do."
Valor Christian has won four consecutive state championship over three classifications.
"We don't talk a lot about the tradition, the past. Every year's different, every team's different," Sherman said. "We're certainly thankful to be able to be playing here again, and we're excited."
Fairview last won a championship in 1987, when it took 4A.
Kickoff in the 5A game is set for 2:30 p.m. Here is more information.
Montrose, Pine Creek readying to play for 4A title
Todd Casebier took a plane to Mile High. Well, not directly to the stadium, but from Montrose to Denver. It made for a shorter trip.
And, the Montrose coach joked, he needed all the time he could get. Because, "After seeing Pine Creek here, I've got to get home in a hurry to practice."
The drive from Montrose to Denver is roughly five hours. So, to ensure he made it home for practice, Casebier took a trip on his brother's plane in order to speak at Tuesday's press conference
"We got up early and our principal and our AD are both here," Casebier said. "We'll get back for practice."
The 4A matchup features Casebier's top-seeded Indians and No. 3 Pine Creek (11-2).
"I know everyone says they have respect for their opponent, but it's pretty simple for us: Montrose is trying to get to where Pine Creek is," Casebier said. "We played Monarch earlier in the year, and the two best programs in 4A are Monarch and Pine Creek. It turns out we're going to play them both in the same season.
"They set the bar high, the way they do things, the way their kids play, the way they prepare. ... In order to be a champion, you have to beat the best teams. I think it's a perfect situation in that we have to beat the best."
Montrose will face a Pine Creek team that really like to spread the ball around among its players. Nine different Eagles have scored rushing touchdowns this season.
"It's just a selfless group. No one really cares about who gets their carries," Pine Creek coach Todd Miller said. "We wear 'One Team' on the back of our jerseys for a reason. In a society that's very selfish, we've got a bunch of selfless guys."
Montrose is in search of its first football championship since winning Class A in 1950. Pine Creek has never won a championship, but appeared in the 2011 4A title game.
Kickoff for the 4A game is at 11 a.m. Here is more information.