ARVADA — Chatfield Senior head coach Bret McGatlin noted that minute Pomona running back Chris Marquez, all 5-foot-5, 154 pounds of him, had great vision. It didn’t hurt that he also had 6-5, 6-6 linemen to block for him, either.
Marquez gashed Chatfield’s defense for 261 rushing yards and four touchdowns, including a 58-yard jaunt in the fourth quarter as Pomona pulled away from the Chargers in the second half for a 49-35 victory. The second-round victory in the 5A football state playoffs on Nov. 8 at the North Area Athletic Complex sends the Panthers (9-2) to the quarterfinals against top-seeded Fairview, while ending Chatfield’s season with an 8-3 record.
“It always sucks to lose. You always want to win,” running back Michael Callahan-Harris said. “This team has the potential to go far. We made too many mistakes tonight. Pomona did a great job, but we’ve got to do better next year.”
Three of those mistakes were costly turnovers, including two fumbles. It marked the first time the Chargers had fumbled since the second week of the season. The miscues couldn’t have come at a worse time for Chatfield.
The first fumble led one play later to a Justin Roberts’ 42-yard TD pass to Hunter Hogoboom and a 21-7 Pomona lead early in the second quarter. But the Chargers scored twice in the span of 46.9 seconds late in the first half — both times on 4 yard Callahan-Harris runs — to tie the game at the break.
The momentum shift had Chatfield thinking it was going to come back and win, but Pomona, more specifically Marquez, wasn’t going to allow that to happen.
“We thought we got this. We turned the game around fast. Even when there was 5 minutes left, I thought we had it. Mistakes killed us,” said Callahan-Harris, who finished with three touchdowns.
Chatfield’s other touchdown came on a 30-yard strike from junior quarterback Kyle Winkler to senior wide receiver Brandon Zanier midway through the fourth quarter. The score pulled the Chargers within 42-28 before Chatfield recovered an onside kick. But six plays later, Winkler was picked off and Pomona capped its scoring with a 7-yard Lukas Russell run.
Chatfield added a late Callahan-Harris 1-yard TD run.
“We put a lot of hard work into this season. I really wish it didn’t have to end here,” Zanier said.
The second-round playoff appearance was the first for Chatfield since 2008, when it also lost to Pomona in the second round. The next step is to get even further in the postseason where the Chargers haven’t been since the days of winning the school’s only state title in 2001.
“We’re headed in the right direction, but you want more. As a coach you want more. Last year, it was a first-round loss. It was a first-round win this year. So we’re headed in the right direction,” McGatlin said. “We’ll miss a lot of seniors, but we’ll have a lot of key kids coming back next year. That will help with the offseason.”
Contact Michael Hicks at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.