If you travel outside this state and speak with people who know high school football, most of them will tell you the same thing: Colorado’s prep football scene is weak compared to the competition in other states.
While it’s certainly true that Colorado has plenty of room to grow its overall talent base on the football field, there are an elite crop of running backs spread across the area’s big schools this fall that are singlehandedly elevating the state’s reputation. Just take a look at the Class 5A Top Ten in the most recent Post Preps Power Rankings, and almost every team on that list has a back capable of stealing the show every Friday night.
The state’s top team, No. 1 Pomona, boasts two big-play backs in senior Cam Gonzales and junior Max Borghi. Gonzales is a bruiser who plays much bigger than his 5-foot-8, 180-pound frame. He took second in the 170 weight class at state wrestling last winter.
Consider Borghi to be the next coming of Christian McCaffrey. He dazzles with his speed and slipperyness like no other back in the state. Whatever college ends up signing him will get a star down the road. So far he has offers from Central Michigan and Colorado State.
No. 2 Mullen also has a prime time running back in senior Marcus McElroy, who has 670 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. He is the primary reason Mullen has victories over heavyweights such as Valor Christian, Regis Jesuit, Columbine and Fairview.
The embarrassment of running back riches does not stop with the state’s two best teams. No. 3 Columbine has dynamic senior Mikey Griebel, who is playing quarterback for the Rebels this year but, for the sake of this column can be fairly classified as a running back. Griebel racked up 1,480 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground during Columbine’s state semifinal run last season. He switched to quarterback because he’s almost always the best athlete on the field.
No. 4 Regis Jesuit isn’t lacking in horsepower either, as the Raiders’ three-headed rushing attack led by senior Alfred Jones, junior DJ Jackson and sophomore Kiahn Martinez has put the state on notice. No. 5 Eaglecrest has its own weapon in running back/wideout Victor Garnes, who is capable of big plays in every phase of the game.
And don’t forget about No. 7 Grandview senior Hayden Blubaugh, who ran for 2,386 and 28 touchdowns last year and is duplicating those numbers; No. 7 Valor Christian’s Joshia Davis, who as a sophomore is already showing promise of becoming the next unquestioned star in Colorado preps; No. 9 Ralston Valley’s senior duo of Tyler Shannon and Shayne Whitmyer and Horizon senior Cade Verkler, who leads 5A with 1,512 rushing yards.
There’s plenty of top-tier backfield talent at the 4A level, too. No. 1 Denver South’s Marcus Lindsay, younger brother of CU star Phillip Lindsay, continues to put the undefeated Rebels on his back as they march toward the program’s first state title since 1958. And Chatfield senior Dalton Keene, a Virginia Tech commit, is a weapon the No. 2 Chargers will consistently deploy as they make their own push for a state championship.
So the next time somebody tries to throw shade on Colorado high school football, refer them to the film of these guys.