DENVER - Tuesday morning the Denver Broncos press room at Empower Field at Mile High was nearly filled to the brim with state champion hopefuls as the finalists for Classes 4A and 5A received a tour of the stadium prior to Saturday’s football championships.
Pine Creek, the No. 1 seed in 4A, rolled in with more than 30 players in its entourage, highlighting a stacked senior class that will prepare for its third appearance in the championship in the last four years.
“It ain’t easy getting to this point and I think sometimes we take it for granted,” Pine Creek coach Todd Miller said. “This is a great opportunity for four great teams who are going to do the best they can.”
Pine Creek will face No. 2 Broomfield in the state championship at 11 a.m. Saturday .
Each team received a tour of the stadium and a walk-through of pregame details in hopes of shaking off some nerves prior to Saturday’s doubleheader.
“I really appreciate the Broncos and Gatorade and CHSAA for days like this because it removes that ‘wow’ factor when the kids walk in here for the very first time,” Broomfield coach Blair Hubbard said. “So hopefully when we get to Saturday that is all behind us and we can focus on playing football.”
Saturday’s 4A title game will be a rematch of the 2016 championship in which Pine Creek defeated Broomfield 36-14. Pine Creek returned to Mile High a year later but fell to Pueblo South 25-14 in the championship.
Hubbard turned the Broomfield football program around in 2016, flipping the 5-5 Eagles to a state-championship contender in his first year as coach. He remembers telling the class of 2020, who were freshmen on the scout team at the time, that they could get back to Mile High.
“We had a feeling that with a lot of hard work we would have an opportunity to come back,” Hubbard said. “And they’ve embraced that.”
One of Hubbard’s not-so-fond memories from the 2016 championship is Pine Creek’s David Moore III, who ran for 201 yards and a touchdown as a freshman in the title game.
“He’s a great runner and breaks tackles. That’s one thing we are going to have to make sure we do is make sure we are making sound tackles,” Hubbard said.
Miller, who has coached his team to six championship appearances since 2011, said his squad’s experience will help keep it settled in the early parts of Saturday’s game.
“You get out there and you can’t help but take a deep breath,” Miller said of walking out onto the field at Mile High. “It’s a cathedral and I think every little bit helps. But ultimately the field is the same length, you still have four downs.”
Tickets for Saturday’s game are $15 on sale at Ticketmaster and will be available at the stadium. The 4A game will kick off at 11 a.m. The 5A championship between Cherry Creek and Columbine will kick off at 2:30 p.m.