A sweet repeat

Posted 12/5/10

Those guys jumping into the stands for hugs and high-fives took some lumps early in the season. Maybe it made them stronger, more ready to seize the …

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A sweet repeat


Those guys jumping into the stands for hugs and high-fives took some lumps early in the season.

Maybe it made them stronger, more ready to seize the trophy when this day arrived.

After four weeks, Valor Christian, the 2009 state champion in 3A, was just 1-3. But the losses were dealt to the Eagles not by peers in their new classification of 4A, but by teams from 5A — the super heavyweight division of Colorado high school football.

And those games were close, actually more like bumps in the road than lumps.

“To know we could play with those teams gave us confidence,” said Brock Berglund, Valor Christian’s senior quarterback.

In the end, no one in its class could beat Valor. In the end, it wasn’t even close.

The foray into 4A culminated in the Eagles’ 38-8 win over Wheat Ridge on Dec. 4. The win at Invesco Field at Mile High made it two championships in three years of varsity football for Valor.

Who could have seen this one coming, so soon?

“Our theme for the whole year was ‘we believe’,” Berglund said, standing but a few yards from a loud, thrilled throng of fans who did too.

In the title game, Berglund showcased the skills that will take him to the University of Colorado next fall.

He completed 12 of 16 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 122 yards and a score on 14 attempts.

“He’s a very good athlete,” Valor coach Brent Vieselmeyer said. “But maybe even more important are the smart plays he makes.”

Berglund drove the fifth-seeded Eagles (11-3) to three touchdowns in the second quarter as they pulled away.

For the game, Valor outgained the third-seeded Farmers from scrimmage 515 yards to 244 yards. The Highlands Ranch school built a 31-0 lead before Wheat Ridge (12-2) registered its first and only score of the day in the fourth quarter.

“They had more athletes than we did,” Wheat Ridge coach Reid Kahl said. “They beat us in every aspect of the game. That’s a good team.”

After a sluggish first quarter, the Eagles got on the scoreboard on running back George Talanoa’s 4-yard run with 8:44 to play in the first half. That touchdown was set up by perhaps the most dynamic play of the game — one that showed the Eagles had truly elevated their level of play.

On Valor’s first offensive play of the second quarter, from their own 23-yard line, Berglund lobbed a pass down field in the direction of Max McCaffrey. The wide receiver made a leaping grab over the Wheat Ridge defensive back, picking up 47 yards with the haul.

It was a play not unlike ones made on the same field by his father, former Denver Broncos wideout Ed McCaffrey.

“I just thought I had to make a play right here,” the Valor junior said.

Other than the catch, it was hardly a pretty play.

“We probably did everything wrong,” the team’s coach said. “Then Max made it right.

“It really got our momentum rolling.”

Berglund completed scoring strikes to Stephen Miller (62 yards) and Cole Anderson (10 yards) before halftime.

After the break, with a 21-0 lead, Valor’s speedy, swarming defense never let Wheat Ridge into the game.

“Our defensive line and linebackers were exceptional today,” Vieselmeyer said. “We just tried to play really fast, let them cut it loose.”

Linebacker AJ Isenburg had a team-high nine tackles, six solo.

The main threat the Eagles’ defense faced was Wheat Ridge quarterback Nick Ossello. The senior had eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in both passing and rushing for the season.

Valor held him to 69 yards on 25 carries and to a 5-of-11, 82-yard passing performance.

Meanwhile, Berglund’s arm and scrambling ability were more than the Farmers’ defenders could handle.

Late in the third quarter, he connected with Max’s younger brother, Christian McCaffrey, on the longest scoring play of the day. After rolling out to his left and finding no one open, Berglund turned right and dumped the ball down to the wide-open running back.

What could have been a routine gain of a few yards turned into a 68-yard touchdown thanks to the elusive freshman’s speed and the quarterback’s sensible decision.

At 31-0, for all practical purposes, the game was over.

The Eagles had won 10 contests in a row. Their only three defeats were to 5A playoff teams Grandview by 9 points, Regis Jesuit (the 5A state runner-up to Mullen) by 4 and Pomona by 5.

Vieselmeyer wasn’t concerned the tough schedule and early losses would hurt morale. Quite the contrary.

“We just wanted to challenge our kids,” he said. “We have some really hard-working kids.”

Berglund, too, mentioned the work that went into producing another championship. It was time to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

“It’s sweet,” Berglund said. “Every state title is sweet…”

There was a “but” coming, but some fans were calling from the stands and they deserved to be acknowledged.

He would come back to describe how special it was to win it all in the team’s first year in 4A. How special it was to win at Mile High (last year’s title game was at Legacy Stadium in Aurora).

How special it is to believe it and achieve it.

“Not many people thought we could do it,” Berglund said. “We didn’t listen to what people were saying. We came out and proved it today.”


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