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Columbine football ends Cherry Creek’s 5A state title streak

Junior+Peyton+Burcar+walks+off+of+the+field+with+a+grin+on+his+face+after+his+team+wins+state+champions.+%28Columbine+wins+28-14%29
Collegian | Ava Puglisi
Junior Peyton Burcar walks off of the field with a grin on his face after his team wins state champions. (Columbine wins 28-14)

In order to establish themselves as the best of the best, a football team needs high-level execution on offense, defense, and special teams. 

Lucky for Columbine high school, they have all of that condensed into one player: Josh Snyder.

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In the Rebels’ 28-14 victory over Cherry Creek high school in the Colorado High School Activities Association 5A Football Championship, Snyder rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, as well as 5 tackles on the defensive side of the ball. 

That’s not the full extent of Snyder’s excellence.

The Rebels’ Swiss Army knife was also the matchup’s leading punter, beating out Cherry Creek’s combined 34 punting yards with a 37 yard punt of his own.

Columbine coach Andy Lowry had nothing but praise for Snyder following the win.

“He’s one of the smartest football players (I’ve coached),” Lowry said. “He’s a 4.4 student, he picks up anything at any position, and he’s just a great football player.”

The star senior has received offers from multiple collegiate football programs, including: Western Colorado University and Colorado School of Mines.

The first strike of the matchup came from Columbine after a four yard punt by Cherry Creek put the Rebels in perfect scoring distance. Lowry’s run-heavy offense marched down the remainder of the field, giving the Rebels’ their first lead of the game, one which they did not let go of.

Lowry credits that first drive with putting the momentum on Columbine’s side, which the team would need desperately if they wanted to come out victorious against the four-time defending state champions.

“(It was) just huge,” Lowry said. “(Snyder) has been doing that all year long though. … All he needs is a crease and he keeps his feet going and he’s a hard guy to bring down. And then coming back with the kickoff return after they got some momentum, even bigger.”

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While a star like Snyder can impact the game on multiple levels, football still isn’t an individual sport. There are still 10 other players who need to contribute to secure victory at a high level.

Lucky for Columbine, from top to bottom, the program was able to execute Saturday evening. Lowry knew his offense was a standout, but he credited the output of his defense for keeping the offensive might of Cherry Creek at bay. 

“I think our defensive capabilities (were) incredible,” Lowry said. “(We stopped the) first two series right in a row with (them) cutting against the wind and we took advantage of those. Our defense has been underrated all year long. I don’t know what we give up, but it’s not very much. And they get us great field position.”

Columbine was certainly the underdog coming into Saturday’s matchup. Cherry Creek was coming out hot off a streak of four consecutive state titles, cementing their coach Dave Logan as the winningest coach in Colorado high school history.

Running back and Linebacker James Cillessen knew the expectations coming into the game, but he knew his team wasn’t going to let any mismatch, physical or statistical, keep them from playing their game.

“Lowry always says the heart is bigger than the size, and we had a lot of heart out there.” Cillessen said. “We got dogs everywhere on that offensive line, everywhere on that defensive line. We worked our butts off last season (and) during this season and everything came to fruition tonight.”

After the game concluded, Snyder was crowned CHSAA’s Most Outstanding Player for the 5A State Championship.

“It’s a dream come true,” Snyder said. “Everything we’ve worked for since last January in the weight room and all summer, it’s hard to believe but we’re here and it’s so exciting.”

Will Engle can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @willengle44.

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