HIGHLANDS RANCH — It was a mixed bag of emotion when the sun set at Shea Stadium for Pomona’s football team Saturday.
The No. 3 ranked team in the CHSAANow.com Class 5A rankings gathered for its normal post-game talk after a convincing 62-21 victory over Rock Canyon. However, thoughts weren’t on the Panthers’ 5A Mt. Evans League opening win.
“I did some pretty good things,” said Pomona junior receiver Billy Pospisil, who caught three touchdown passes and had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. “But right now, I’m pretty focused on the health of our quarterback.”
Pomona’s three-year starting quarterback Ryan Marquez was sacked and fumbled with 4:25 left in the second quarter. Right away the injury looked serious with Rock Canyon’s doctor being called to the field to check on the senior quarterback.
Marquez suffered an injured left forearm on the hit. He was immediately taken to the hospital for further evaluation of the injury.
Via text on Saturday night, Marquez confirmed he suffered a broken radius on his non-throwing arm.
“It’s a tough one. Hard to wrap my mind around it,” Pomona coach Jay Madden said of losing his quarterback that helped lead the Panthers’ to back-to-back appearances in the 5A championship game. “It’s his senior year. Who cares how I feel. It’s how he (Marquez) feels that makes you feel so bad.”
With Pomona’s sideline stunned, Rock Canyon (4-2, 0-1 in Mt. Evans League) scored just before halftime on a 15-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Adam Mullen to sophomore Jack Ramsey to cut the Panthers’ lead to 35-14 at halftime.
Pomona (4-2, 1-0) responded in the second half with senior Max Borghi scoring his second touchdown of the game. Pospisil put an exclamation point on his game with the kickoff return for a touchdown.
“I knew somebody had to make a play to give us a spark,” Pospisil said of his 95-yard kickoff return. “I took it up the middle and everyone blocked great. I just ran as fast as I could and got into the end zone.”
Pospisil caught his third touchdown that went for 47 yards late in the third quarter from Pomona junior quarterback Colten Muller. It was the first career varsity touchdown pass for the Panthers’ back-up, but now likely starting quarterback.
“Muller is a winner,” Madden said of the junior who was undefeated as a starting quarterback at the freshmen and junior varsity level the past two years. “He has run this system since he was about 9-years-old. We are going to rally around him. It’s his time.”
Muller capped off the game with a 5-yard touchdown pass to senior Jesse Stuht early in the fourth quarter that induced a running clock with a 41-point lead for the remainder of the game.
“I need to step up. Ryan was a great quarterback and it will be hard to replace him. I’ll do my job to help the team win,” said Muller, who got a chance to talk to Marquez before he was taken to the hospital. “I basically said that I love him. I’m going to pray for him and hope he gets better soon.”
Pomona senior linebacker Mateo Crespin was clear after the game that he wants the Panthers’ defensive unit to carry more of the load with the loss of Marquez.
“The defense has got to step up. No more 20-point games. I’ll take that on my shoulders as a defensive captain,” Crespin said referring to Pomona giving up 20 or more points in four of five games so far this season. “No one is going to rush for another 150-yard game on us. I promise you that. We are here to stop the run and get the ball to our offense so we can put points on the board.”
Pospisil is confident the Panthers will rally to remain a state contender this season.
“I know Colten is going to step up and be a leader for this team. He is going to do a good job,” Pospisil said. “We’ll rally and find ways to win games.”