No. 4 Pomona football grinds out victory over rival Arvada West

ARVADA — It was a bit of a scary first half on Halloween at the North Area Athletic Complex for the No. 4 ranked Pomona Panthers.

While Pomona’s defense allowed rival Arvada West only one first-down in the first half, the Panthers’ offense only mustered up a 26-yard field by senior Joevannie Rosales and 3-yard touchdown run by senior Jack Pospisil. Pomona held a 10-0 lead at halftime.

Pomona senior Jack Pospisil (2) rolls out to get off a pass as Arvada West junior Xavier Nail (10) closes in. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“We started off slow with a lot of penalties and mistakes. That held us back,” Pomona junior Chase Muller said. “In the second half we played good.”

Muller was the spark Pomona’s offense needed. The two-way player — running back and safety — scored on touchdown runs 45, 25 and 28 yards in the second half to power the Panthers to a 33-14 victory.

While A-West (1-3, 0-3 in Class 5A Jeffco) has perhaps closed the gap between the Wildcats and Panthers, Pomona (4-0, 3-0) still completed the sweep for the Arvada City Championship title between Arvada West, Ralston Valley and Pomona.

“Their (A-West’s) Columbine game was close. They lost against Mullen because of a couple of big plays,” Pomona coach Jay Madden said after coaching in his 300th career game. “They have fought hard all year. I think Brad (Pyatt) has done a great job. They came after us.”

Pomona’s defense came after A-West sophomore quarterback Ethan Cook, who was getting his first start under center for A-West. Facing one of the best defensives in the state that already has a pair of shutout victories under its belt, Cook struggled early.

The sophomore did break-up the shutout bid with a 21-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Andrew Martinez with 3 minutes left in the third quarter.

Pomona junior Junior Gonzales (52) and senior Juju Howard (41) apply pressure on Arvada West quarterback Ethan Cook (8). The Panthers' defense was stout in the 33-14 victory over the rival Wildcats. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“He (Cook) is going to be a great quarterback. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him,” A-West coach Brad Pyatt said. “He has a bright future.”

Pomona did get the final lick in on Cook. Seniors Juju Howard and Marcus Geypens combined for a sack of Cook in the end zone for safety in the fourth quarter.

“The defense is really playing well. It’s exciting,” Madden said. “It’s fun to watch and makes calling offensive plays a lot easier. You know your defense can go out there and get a stop.”

Pomona has plenty of player makers on defense. Senior Jayson Barber had an interception that set up Muller’s second touchdown run in the third quarter.

“We have so much talent on this team,” Muller said.

Pomona has a short week, hosting Mullen (1-2, 1-2) on Thursday, Nov. 5, at NAAC. The regular season has been building toward a showdown against No. 3 Columbine (4-0, 3-0) on Thursday, Nov. 12, at Jeffco Stadium.

However, Madden knows his team can’t look past Mullen.

“I’m happy with where we are at, but we have to make sure we understand the Mullen is the big game,” Madden said. “We can’t be thinking about Columbine. Mullen is the big game. We proved today that if we don’t come out with everything we’ve got we can be in a dogfight.”

A-West is on a three-game losing streak after a Week 1 victory, but Pyatt is excited about the future of the program.

“I’m proud of how we fought,” Pyatt said. “Our culture is changing. We are losing games, but we are battling.”

Arvada West sophomore quarterback Ethan Cook (8) attempts to hold off Pomona senior Connor Walklett (54) from getting a sack during the first quarter Saturday afternoon at the North Area Athletic Complex. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)