DENVER — Four years ago, after Pine Creek lost the Class 4A football state championship game 66-10 to perennial powerhouse Valor Christian, Eagles head coach Todd Miller wasn’t sure his squad would ever get another shot at the state title.
Those worries seem silly in retrospect.
Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Eagles took another step towards establishing a dynasty of their own, beating the Longmont Trojans 45-20 to wrap up an undefeated season and a second-straight 4A state championship. It is the first time a Colorado Springs-area school has won back-to-back titles.
“This year we had a target on our back and I kind of understand what Valor and some of the other schools are going through,” said Miller in the midst of a raucous postgame celebration. “It takes a toll on you personally, it takes a toll on these kids. But you still chase it, because this is unbelievable.”
The outcome was never in doubt, as the Eagles dominated on both sides of the football right from the start. Only penalties — the Eagles had six for 81 yards in the first half — held them back. Even then, mistakes could only slow Pine Creek, not stop them.
After a missed field goal to start the game, Pine Creek’s JoJo Domann connected from 32 yards out on the Eagles second possession. Having officially gotten on the board, the Eagles picked up steam and started piling it on.
Led by quarterback Tommy Lazzaro and running back Josh Odom, the Eagles looked unstoppable as the first half unfolded. Lazzaro found pay-dirt from eight yards out to cap a four-play, 62-yard drive as time expired in the first quarter. In the second frame, it was Odom who shouldered the load, eventually finding the end-zone to make the score 17-0 Pine Creek just a few minutes into the second quarter.
Odom spent the game adding to his already impressive resume. The senior running back finished with 152 yards rushing at halftime and 284 for the day.
“Coach Miller just tells me, it doesn’t matter if you get ten or thirty carries,” said Odom, who averaged 14.2 yards per-carry. “Just as long as you put your head down and help the team be successful.”
Meanwhile, the Trojans were struggling to get anything going against an active Eagles defense. The Eagles shortened the field against Longmont quarterback Clint Sigg Jr., who had to settle for short out routes that the Eagles could swarm to.
The Eagles intercepted Sigg twice in the first half, and though neither directly led to Pine Creek scores, losing the field position battle meant tough going as the Trojans tried to find a break. Trying to simply run out the clock to end the half, the Trojans put the ball on the ground, and all-purpose threat JoJo Domann picked up the ball and returned it 19-yards for another Pine Creek touchdown.
Domann finished the game with 64 yards and one touchdown receiving to go along with his defensive exploits.
“We swarmed the ball. That’s our mentality,” said Domann, when asked what his team did well on defense. “Always get to the ball, get to the pile. Make plays and tackle well, and that’s what we did.”
“The boy’s a baller. He gets to go both ways and he does a great job at it,” Odom said of his teammate. “He’s definitely a high-level elite athlete.”
The second half opened in the same manner as the first – with a dominate Eagles defense frustrating the Trojans into turnovers, and Odom and company capitalizing. A six play, 79-yard drive by the Eagles ended with Odom’s second touchdown of the day. On Longmont’s next possession, junior defensive back Travis Meachum intercepted Sigg and took the ball to the house. Domann’s extra point made it 45-0 in favor of Pine Creek.
From there, Longmont was able to put some points on the board. Junior Conlan Berger scored two rushing touchdowns in the final frame and finished with 80 yards.
Sigg, in his final game for the Trojans, broke into the endzone as time wound down to make the final score 45-20.
Still, with the game already out of reach, a loud Pine Creek crowd spent the majority of the fourth quarter urging the Eagles to bring back the championship trophy.
For seniors of both squads, it was their final moment in uniform. And though it didn’t end the way Longmont head coach Doug Johnson wanted, he had only one message to his team.
“I love them. I’m super proud of our kids. We caught the best team on a day when we didn’t play very well,” said Johnson. “We knew we had to play well to be out there with them, but we just didn’t have our best today. I’m super proud of our guys, and super proud of our season.”
For the seniors of Pine Creek, a second straight championship was exactly the sort of legacy they wanted to leave behind.
“For this program, we’ve got some good guys leaving but we definitely have some good young guys coming up,” said Odom. “I’m eager to watch these guys play next year.”
Pine Creek has won its last 25 games.
“I’m going to miss them. They gave it their all,” said Domann of Pine Creek’s seniors. “We owe it to them to get back here next year, but I’m so grateful for all of them. This is for them.”
And as for next year, is it took early to start thinking about a three-peat?
“That’s on our mind,” said Domann. “But I’m going to celebrate this one first.”