ARVADA — Ralston Valley senior JJ Galbreath appeared to be everywhere on the field Friday night at the North Area Athletic complex.
Galbreath seemed to be in on every other play defensively. On the offensive side of the ball, the senior had a pair of touchdowns catches as No. 2 ranked Ralston Valley shutout rival and No. 5 Pomona by a score of 17-0.
“You can never really tell,” Galbreath said when asked if he thought he would have such a huge game in the regular-season finale. “You just have to come out fighting 100 percent every play and you can’t let up. That’s what we did tonight. We didn’t let up.”
The victory wrapped up an undefeated regular season for the Mustangs (10-0, 5-0 in Class 5A Metro West League) and gave Ralston Valley the conference title.
“It’s a great feeling,” Galbreath said of winning the conference title. “It’s been a couple of years here since we’ve done that.”
The shutout loss for Pomona was the first time the Panthers haven’t scored in a game since being blanked by Valor Christian back in 2011.
“It’s awesome,” Galbreath said of the shutout. “I think right now with the intensity we come out with our defense it’s awesome. We all fight to the whistle.”
It was a defensive tussle in the first half with Ralston Valley managing the lone big offensive scoring play before halftime. Senior quarterback Walker Brickle hooked up with Galbreath for a 55-yard catch and run with 9:56 left in the second quarter.
Galbreath was able to duck under a would-be tackler and sprint into the end zone to give the Mustangs a 7-0 lead.
“I’m so proud of JJ. He had a great game. We really needed that to get going,” Ralston Valley senior Chase Wilson said of the first touchdown catch by Galbreath. “It was a dogfight at first. We needed a big play like that.”
Ralston Valley’s stellar defense got the ball right back to the Mustangs’ offense following the first score. A sack and fumble recovery by Ralston Valley junior Parks Jones. Ralston Valley took over on Pomona’s 28-yard line, but would have to settle for a 40-yard field goal by Jones to extend the lead to 10-0 at halftime.
Pomona (6-4, 4-1) just couldn’t get much going offensively. Ralston Valley’s pressure on Pomona junior quarterback Brady Ritzmann kept the Panthers from mounting much offensively the whole night.
“Our defense has been terrific all year. It’s just another game of playing awesome,” Ralston Valley coach Matt Loyd said. “My defensive coordinator Greg Francis is awesome. He gets guys set up and in different looks. It looks like we are bring a lot of guys, but actually we aren’t. We just bring guys from different places.”
Ralston Valley put the game on ice with a 21-yard touchdown from Brickle to Galbreath with three minutes to play to extend the lead to 17-0.
Pomona and Ralston Valley will play the waiting game to see how the 32-team 5A state tournament bracket shakes out. The Colorado High Schools Activities Association is schedule to hold the 5A seeding meeting on Sunday, Nov. 3. The top-8 teams receive first-round byes.
Going into the week the top-3 teams — Ralston Valley, Columbine and Pomona — in the 5A Metro West conference were all in the top-8 in RPI. So there is a chance the Mustangs, Rebels and Panthers could all get a first-round bye.
Loyd said the week off will be a benefit to his team that has had some costly injuries this season. Wilson agreed.
“Coach Madden has a great team. After this win it’s kind of nice to get heathy again heading into playoffs,” Wilson said.