ARVADA — Pomona senior Dominic Bettini went from back-up running back to workhorse Thursday night at the North Area Athletic Complex.
Starting running back Therious Robison was out with an injury, so Bettini got the ball early and often. Bettini finished with five touchdown runs in Pomona’s 41-27 victory over rival Arvada West on the football field.
“With Therious being hurt I kind of knew I needed to take some of the workload. I just mentally prepared,” Bettini said. “The offensive line did a heck of a job out there. All my success was because of the o-line.”
The drive that defined the night for Bettini was on the Panthers’ final scoring drive. Pomona, No. 5 in the CHSAANow.com 5A football rankings, handed the ball to Bettini a dozen straight times on the Panthers’ third straight drive that yielded a touchdown that broke open what was a 20-20 game midway through the third quarter.
“I’m glad they have the trust in me to do that,” Bettini said of his 12 straight carries on Pomona’s final scoring drive that covered 73 yards in 12 plays. “Whatever they (coaches) want me to do I’ll do it.”
A-West gave Pomona all it wanted through three quarters. A 5-yard touchdown run by A-West senior Tony Cass with 5 minutes left in the third quarter tied things up 20-20.
“As a team we played all four quarters solid,” Cass said. “A couple of turnovers killed us on offensive, but overall we played great as a team.”
The turnovers popped up on three straight drives after Pomona regained the lead 27-20 on Bettini’s third touchdown run with 2 minutes left in the third quarter. Pomona senior Jack Thiele intercepted A-West senior quarterback Johnny Krutsch late in the third quarter, but it was senior Trent Padia who came up huge defensively on back-to-back possessions.
“They (A-West) made us fight and scratch for everything we got,” Pomona coach Jay Madden said. “We found a way to win and that is all that really matters.”
Padia recovered a fumble by A-West senior Cory Carignan that led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Bettini to make it a 34-20 game with 10:35 left in the fourth quarter. Padia then picked off Krutsch on A-West’s next possession to set up the final scoring drive for Pomona.
“When it got that close we knew as a defense we had to take charge,” Thiele said of A-West in the game midway through the third quarter. “We got those three turnovers and I felt like that changed the momentum of the game.”
There was another highlight for Pomona. Senior receiver Billy Pospisil went for the 3,000-yard receiving mark for his career with another 100+ yard game that included a first-half touchdown catch from senior quarterback Riley Welsch.
“Billy went for 3,000 yards (for his prep career) today against his Dad’s old high school,” Madden said. “That’s pretty cool.”
The next three weeks will determine if Pomona is able to win its third straight conference crown. The Panthers easily won the 5A Mt. Evans League the past two seasons during the waterfall format.
Pomona (5-2 record, 2-0 in 5A Metro West League) is at Mullen (3-3, 0-1) on Friday, Oct. 12, before closing out the regular season against No. 3 Columbine on Oct. 19 at Jeffco Stadium and No. 8 Ralston Valley on Oct. 26 at NAAC.
“We just have to get healthy and hope we survive through this tough league we got,” Madden said. “We’ve got a lot to do if we want to get anywhere near where our goals are at.”
Pomona, Columbine and Ralston Valley were all in the top-8 in the RPI before the start of Week 7 games. Grabbing a top-8 seed will be important with those eight games getting first-round byes in the new 24-team 5A state tournament that begins the first week in November.
A-West (4-3, 0-2) has lost three straight after a 4-0 start. However, the Wildcats have the chance to get back in the win column the next two weeks facing Lakewood (3-3, 0-1) and Mullen.
If A-West can get to six victories it would surely lock a second straight playoff berth for A-West coach Brad Pyatt’s squad.