DENVER - Gavin Herberg earned his Most Valuable Player award at Saturday’s Class 4A state football championship game at Empower Field at Mile High with his right arm, two legs and brain.
He scored one rushing touchdown, passed for another and managed a clean game as the No. 1 Eagles won a second state championship in the last four years with a 34-3 win over No. 2 Broomfield.
“Us 36 seniors, this is what we’ve been looking for since freshman year. We got a little taste of it freshman year, but we weren’t a huge part of that, so we wanted to come out on top,” Herberg said. “We’re living the dream right now.”
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Though the game ended comfortably, the first half was something of a struggle.
After the teams exchanged punts on the first two drives, Pine Creek started its second possession inside its own 5. It looked like the Eagles would punt from their end zone until Herberg kept it on a read option, picked up the first down and motored out it to the visiting sideline, carrying it into Broomfield territory after a 53-yard sprint. Running back David Moore III scored the opening touchdown a couple of short runs later, and the Eagles took a 7-3 lead to half after a failed fourth-down try and missed field goal prevented more Pine Creek points.
“I think we just had those first-half jitters,” Herberg said. “That’s what caused all that, but the second half we came out and executed, came out on top.”
Herberg helped make it a two-score game on Pine Creek’s first offensive possession of the second half when he corralled an errant third-down snap and decided to keep it again, picking up another 50 yards.
“That’s just being a great athlete and a football player,” Pine Creek coach Todd Miller said. “He didn’t panic. He was very composed in the huddle, and he’s giving great information coming back. That’s what seniors do.”
Herberg capped the drive with an 11-yard rushing touchdown and hit Eddie Kyle after a double move for a touchdown on the next possession to make it 21-3. The quarterback and wide receiver have played together for seven years, Herberg said, and they linked up even before Kyle hauled in the pass.
“We have a great bond,” Herberg said. “He looked at me before the play, I looked at him, and we knew that was a touchdown.”
From there, Herberg had to do little more than manage the game and watch as Moore’s second touchdown and an interception return from Kyle put the game away late.
“I thought he had some confidence late in the game and was really calling some stuff and getting us going in the right direction,” Miller said.
Herberg completed 5 of 13 passes for 46 yards and ran for 131 yards. Moore ran 30 times for 109 yards and two touchdowns, finishing his prep career as Colorado’s No. 3 in rushing yards.
In the end, two big runs, a rushing touchdown, a touchdown pass and a turnover-free game was more than enough to earn the Pine Creek quarterback, who’s still sorting out his college football plans, the MVP award in his final high school game.
“He came back, and he did his thing that second half,” Kyle said.
“I’m so proud of him for that. That’s exactly why he deserves that MVP.”