Valor Christian rallies around junior linebacker Chase Zimmerman to play Creek close


While junior linebacker Chase Zimmerman’s leg was placed in an air cast and was preparing to be carted off with his father beside him, his teammates came over to give him encouragement.

It proved to be a rallying call for the Eagles Saturday at Empower Field at Mile High in the Class 5A state football championship where they faced off against Cherry Creek for the third consecutive year.

While the injury in the first quarter was a blow, the defensive unit knew they had to fight for Zimmerman and put together an inspired performance, even in a 24-17 loss.

Still, the moment was tough. Zimmerman doubles as a wrestler for the Eagles, but that season won’t happen. Valor Christian head coach Bret McGatlin confirmed following the game that Zimmerman sustained a compound fracture in his leg.

“What he said was ‘Dad, I won’t get to wrestle now.’ But to be honest with you, he is one of the toughest kids you’ll ever find. He can handle it,” McGatlin said. “With that kind of break, there was no tears, no screaming or anything. Man, tough as nails.”

Playing together is what helped the Eagles (11-3) reach the 5A state title game for the third consecutive year and a 12th time in program history. Entering Saturday, Valor Christian had 18 takeaways and would finish the season with three more. Mostly, they were a unit known for making timely plays when the game mattered most.

Saturday’s first half proved they were more than up to the task.

The Eagles intercepted two passes and had two goal-line stands, one which resulted in a missed 26-yard field goal and the other a turnover on downs at the 3.

While his side came out victorious for a fourth consecutive state title, Cherry Creek head coach Dave Logan knew that Valor would give his team fits. At halftime, with Valor leading 7-3, he told his team to dig deep.

“We made some uncharacteristic mistakes and I thought we played with anxiety in the first half,” Logan said. “I talked to the team the night before about how if we don’t get off to a good start, we have to show some resilience and mental toughness.”

Valor senior linebacker Roman Bradley, who had three tackles and a first-half interception, said: “We had a really good mindset. We felt like we were the better team and eventually it would show. We had a tough result but never stopped fighting.”


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