on December 4, 2016 by in Golden News, Comments Off on Pomona overcomes more hardship to punch ticket to 5A title game

Pomona overcomes more hardship to punch ticket to 5A title game

ARVADA –; Overcoming adversity has been the name of the game for Pomona football this season.

The No. 1 seed Panthers (12-1 record) overcame another devastating injury Nov. 26 in the Class 5A state semifinal against Regis Jesuit at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada. Despite losing senior running back Cameron Gonzales to a serious lower leg injury in the first quarter, the Panthers persevered with a 24-7 victory over the Raiders.

“It’s just a testament to the type of heart our kids have,” Pomona coach Jay Madden said as the home fans stormed the field at NAAC. “We lose three returning all-state guys in a season like this and end up finding our way back to the state championship game. But, we aren’t finished. We’ve got one last game.”

Pomona junior Max Borghi suffered torn ACL and MCL in his knee last week in the state quarterfinal victory over Columbine. Borghi had racked up 824 yards rushing, 495 yards receiving and scored 21 touchdowns for Pomona, along with being Pomona’s punter and kickoff specialist. He has received Division I offers during this junior campaign.

Senior lineman Jake Moretti, one of the top recruits in the state, missed the entire season with a knee injury during the summer. Moretti announced last week he has verbally committed to the University of Colorado.

Gonzales, a Class 5A state wrestler runner-up at 170 pounds as a junior last winter, had to be carted off the field and taken by ambulance after a 1-yard carry late in the first quarter. The senior came into the game with 889 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns this season.

“When I saw him (Gonzales) on the ground there was a dreading moment. It hurt to see a close friend like that. It hit me more because it was so personal. I’ve grown up with Cam,” Pomona senior Uriah Vigil said. “We are going to do this for our fallen teammates now. It’s no longer about us, it’s about them now. We had to play for them.”

Pomona trailed 7-0 when Gonzales went down. The Panthers stepped up to the challenge and scored 24 unanswered points through the final three quarters to advance to next week’s state championship game against defending state champion Valor Christian.

The 5A title game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at Mile High Stadium. Valor kicked a last-second field goal in the other semifinal Saturday to edge Cherry Creek 10-7.

“It always hurts losing a player like Cam who has devoted so much time and effort to this team. He had a hell of a career,” Pomona junior quarterback Ryan Marquez said. “We are hoping to bring home a state time for him and all the other players who have struggled with adversity.”

Marquez had another strong playoff performance through the air going 18-for-29 passing for 234 yards. He also ran for two scores. Seniors Jeremy Gonzales (four catches, 85 yards), Vigil (seven catches, 65 yards) and sophomore Billy Pospisil (seven catches, 79 yards) caught all 18 passes.

The biggest catch might have been a 40-yard catch by Jeremy Gonzales late in the second quarter on a third-down and 16 from with under two minutes to play before halftime.

“It was a big play,” Marquez said of the pass to Jeremy Gonzales, who has been slowed by an early-season injury against Mullen. “We’ve got players on this team that makes plays. Jeremy just made a play. We knew he had it him in.”

Two plays later, Marquez scored on a 9-yard designed quarterback run to give Pomona a 14-7 lead at halftime.

Another player that was thrust into a staring role was Kenny Maes. The Pomona junior replaced Cameron Gonzales on both sides of the ball. Maes had a fumble recovery on defense and finished with 17 carries for 57 yards. He had just 14 carries for just over 100 yards on the season coming in.

“At first I was kind of nervous out there, but as the game went on my nerves went away and I felt comfortable,” Maes said.

Pomona’s defense held Regis scoreless on the Raiders’ final nine possessions.

“Regis is a solid team, but we did a really good job,” Pomona senior linebacker Garrett Zanon said.

Regis quarterback Justin Lamb was just 8-for-25 passing for 107 yards and was sacked five times. Regis (11-2) could only muster a total of 41 yards rushing and was held under double-digit points for only the second time this season.

“For the defense to go out there and not flinch was awesome,” Madden said of the defensive response after Regis had back-to-back solid drives to start the game. “I couldn’t be prouder of a group of kids to overcome what they have. It’s been pretty incredible.”

It will be the second straight state championship game appearance for Pomona. The Panthers couldn’t hang on to a fourth-quarter lead last year against Valor Christian, losing 29-26. Pomona defeated Valor on the Eagles’ home field 23-16 back in September, but there will be a lot more on the line next Saturday.

“At the beginning of the season when we beat them that means absolutely nothing,” Vigil said. “It’s a completely different team, us and them. We’ll use last year as fire. We’ve got a lot of stepping up to do. It’s time to come out and switch it around from last year.”

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