DENVER — The itinerary was pretty clear cut for Pomona’s football program this season — play 14 games and win the last one.
Pomona’s 56-49 victory over Eaglecrest in the highest scoring Class 5A state championship game in history gave the Panthers their first state football title since 1988. The win also ended a string of three losses (2009, 2015 and 2016) in championship games for Pomona.
“We’ve been so close so many times and so much heartbreak. We had to have this one,” Pomona coach Jay Madden said as his team celebrated getting their hands on that elusive state title Dec. 2 at Mile High Stadium. “If we don’t get this one … when are we going to get one? I’m glad that stuff is over. We got one and we’ll come back next year and try to get another one.”
Madden, in his 15th year coaching his alma mater, finally joined the elite club of football coaches with state titles. He also joins his younger brother Brad Madden in winning a state championship.
Brad won the 6A baseball state title as a player at Arvada West in 1994. He also coached Golden to the 4A state baseball state championship in 2003. Brad moved on to Green Mountain High School where the Rams won back-to-back 4A baseball state titles in 2014 and 2015.
“It’s a lot harder in football, especially at the 5A level,” Brad said of his older brother joining him as a state champion. “I’m super proud of him and his whole staff. This is overdue for sure.”
Brad, who will take over Ralston Valley’s baseball program this spring, was Jay’s offensive coordinator at Pomona for several years.
“He has been the best coach in 5A football for 17 years, doing it with a neighborhood school,” Brad said of his brother. “He finally gets what he deserves.”
Jay spent time as the head coach at Alameda and Dakota Ridge before a two-year stint at Mullen before taking over at Pomona when legendary coach Gary Klatt retired.
Pomona had three players who were able to taste victory Saturday that played in the 2015 state game two years ago. One of those players was senior running back Max Borghi.
The Washington State commit finished his stellar career with more than 5,000 yards from scrimmage. Borghi had a remarkable playoff run with 904 yards rushing and a dozen touchdowns on the ground in four games.
“I’ve never seen a bigger smile on his face,” Borghi said of his coach. “I’m just so happy for him. He has been working for it longer than of us (players) have been working for it. He has been coaching forever. To finally get it, he earned it.”
The football program also joins the state success its gymnastics, wrestling and track programs have had over the past three years.
“It means a lot,” Pomona senior defensive end Tanner Kimminau said. “Walking around school we’ll finally fit in with all the other state champs there.”