Valor Christian wins fifth-straight football title, this one over Fairview

Valor Christian's players celebrate winning the 5A championship. (Kevin Keyser/KeyserImages.com)

Valor Christian's players celebrate winning the 5A championship. (Kevin Keyser/KeyserImages.com)

DENVER -- They're calling it a V-Peat.

Valor Christian's most recent football title was dominant and impressive. And it was thorough. The Eagles handled Fairview in Saturday's Class 5A final, 56-16. It was their fifth-consecutive championship over three classifications. The school also won 3A in 2009, 4A in 2010 and 2011, and 5A in 2012.

"It's been a run, man," said Valor Christian senior Christian McCaffrey. "We've battled every day since our freshman year. Every day in practice, film, in the classroom. It's been real. Words can't explain the ride we've had. We've worked so hard for this. Even last year after the state game, we weren't satisfied because we knew we had one more year to go. It's just a gratifying moment right now for all of us."

Things started early on Saturday. Valor Christian scored three touchdowns on its first four offensive plays of the game. It was 21-0 with 5:50 to play in the first quarter, but it seemed like a heartbeat.

Valor running back Christian McCaffrey (5) outruns the Fairview defense for a long gain during the CHSAA 5A state championship game between Valor Christian and Fairview high schools, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. (Kai Casey/CHSAANow.com)

Valor running back Christian McCaffrey (5) outruns the Fairview defense for a long gain. More photos. (Kai Casey/CHSAANow.com)

As is usually the case, it was McCaffrey, the Eagles' star, at the center of things. His 221 total yards and four total touchdowns led the way in the rout. Those numbers are all the more impressive considering he had just one offensive touch of the ball in the second half.

"I think that shows his versatility," Valor Christian coach Rod Sherman said.

Yet it was Valor's defense that really established the tone early. Lineman Clarke Cooper had three sacks on Fairview's first three drives as the Eagles really got after Knights quarterback Anders Hill.

Fairview entered the day averaging 45 points per game, second only in the state to Valor's 46.3. It's an offense that leads Colorado in passing, thanks in large part to the combo of Hill and Sam Martin, who now holds multiple state receiving records.

So Valor Christian's devised a plan: the Eagles rotated its defensive linemen -- "To keep guys fresh," Sherman said -- and also put an extra defensive back on the field for most plays.

"We knew they had a great quarterback and a great receiver -- one of the best duos in the state -- so we just tried to lock them down as much as we could," said Valor Christian senior Marcus Wilson.

It worked. Hill was bothered by the rush most of the day, though he did finish with 208 yards and a touchdown.

Wilson and Brian Dawkins Jr. were everywhere in the defensive backfield, and Dawkins had an interception.

"I think sometimes in our program, the offense is flashy, and it overshadows defense. I think we play great defense," Sherman said. "Even when I talked this week about the track meet (Saturday's game) was going to be, you could kind of tell it didn't sit will with our defensive guys, because they have a lot of pride."

On the other side, Valor got a knockout day from its own quarterback, A.J. Cecil. Cecil was 15-of-16 for 245 yards and four touchdowns. His only incompletion was an early interception.

Valor Christian Fairvew football

More photos. (Jack Eberhard/JacksActionShots.com)

"I thought A.J. played arguably his best game of the year," Sherman said.

And what a day to have it.

"Sitting behind that line," Cecil said of his offensive line, "you literally have all day to be able to throw the ball. "

By the time Saturday's game ended, Valor Christian, the No. 2 seed, had routed top-ranked Fairview.

"We knew coming into this game that Fairview had an awesome team," McCaffrey said. "We really had our work cut out for us all week. To win like that is definitely something special, especially against a great team like that."

Martin, the Fairview senior, had 129 yards and a touchdown on Saturday. He now owns state records for receptions (111) and yards (1,848).

In addition to McCaffrey's outpouring, Valor Christian got rushing touchdowns from Eric Lee and Stone Watson. Wilson and Nathan Watmore also had receiving scores.

Valor senior offensive and defensive lineman Ryan Cummings (73) raises the championship while celebrating his team's CHSAA 5A state championship win over Fairview, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. (Kai Casey/CHSAANow.com)

Valor senior offensive and defensive lineman Ryan Cummings (73) raises the championship while celebrating his team's 5A state championship win over Fairview. More photos. (Kai Casey/CHSAANow.com)