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Class 5A football playoffs: Pomona rolls over Eaglecrest, 49–19, for semifinal berth against Cherry Creek — today

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HIGHLANDS RANCH — The atti­tude of Pomona foot­ball is best defined by the play­ing attire of quar­ter­back Jack Pospisil in the first round of the Class 5A play­offs as tem­per­a­tures dropped into the low-40s with bit­ter steady wind gusts.

No long sleeves. No gloves. All heart.

“We’re not the biggest team,” said Pospisil, a 5‑foot‑9 bull­dog of a quar­ter­back. “We just want it more.”

Fourth-seed­ed Pomona proved it Fri­day night at Val­or Sta­di­um with a dom­i­nat­ing 49–19 vic­to­ry No. 5 Eagle­crest. The Pan­thers move on to face top-ranked Cher­ry Creek in the semi­fi­nals next week.

Pomona (7–0) advanced thanks to a dynam­ic ground game with five dif­fer­ent play­ers rush­ing for touch­downs. Their suc­cess increased as the game con­tin­ued and Eagle­crest (4–3) wore down.

The Pan­thers fea­ture five run­ning backs — Ben Cruz, Ian Dex­ter, Chase Muller, Dominick Nichols and AJ Zamo­ra — in addi­tion to Pospisil’s ultra-effec­tive abil­i­ties in the quar­ter­back run-option game. On Fri­day, Nichols record­ed three touch­downs (one receiv­ing) plus one inter­cep­tion while play­ing defense.

“We have five of the great­est run­ning backs any one team has ever had I think,” Pomona coach Jay Mad­den said. “They’ve all got dif­fer­ent things that they’re good at … and they all played defense, too, except for one of them. They do every­thing for us.”

Pomona nerves were on edge mid­way through the sec­ond quar­ter, though, when Eagle­crest quar­ter­back Khalil Howard con­nect­ed on a 39-yard touch­down com­ple­tion to senior wide receiver/safety Seyi Oladipo — a Boise State com­mit. Eagle­crest took a 13–7 lead. But Pomona nev­er pan­icked.

“Just keep fight­ing,” Mad­den said. “We knew it could be a roller-coast­er ride. But we got used to their speed and start­ed get­ting pres­sure on the quar­ter­back. Our offense let our defense relax because we knew we were going to score points.”

No kid­ding. Pomona flipped the switch and scored 35 straight points. Pospisil, on the night he turned 18, rushed and threw for a touch­down. Then Pomona team­mates sang him hap­py birth­day in the postgame hud­dle.

“We just got on a roll,” Pospisil said. “Our O‑line was doing a fan­tas­tic job mak­ing great holes and our run­ning backs were hit­ting it hard. When we get on a roll like that, we’re hard to stop. It was just a great night.”

Pomona’s quest to stay unde­feat­ed meets its great­est chal­lenge yet against Cher­ry Creek (7–0) for a chance to play in the Class 5A state cham­pi­onship game. The Pan­thers last won it all in 2017. Can they do it in 2020?

“I’m real­ly, real­ly proud of this group,” Mad­den said. “We always talk about over­achiev­ing. They’re doing that.”

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