Friday night, Ed McCaffrey, the former Denver Broncos world champ, brought his high school football team to Charlotte.
It was a pretty successful visit.
Valor Christian, the reigning 5A state champs from Colorado, routed Charlotte Christian 56-6, snapping the Knights 22-game win streak.
The Knights played the game in front of Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey, the son of the Valor Christian coach.
Valor Christian was 14-0 last season and has won five of the past seven Colorado Class 5A state championships. Despite the loss, Charlotte Christian hopes to 3-peat as N.C. Independent Schools Division I state champions in November.
Knights coach Jason Estep told the Observer how the two powerhouses ended up playing each other.
“Our two schools have done some administrative swapping in the past,” Christian coach Jason Estep said. “Our administration goes to their campus for a couple days and they come here, trying to learn from each other. We have similar missions.”
Estep said the schools tried to schedule the game last season, when the last of Ed McCaffrey’s sons, Luke, was playing his senior year. Luke McCaffrey is now a freshman at Nebraska.
In fact, all of Ed McCaffrey’s sons starred at Valor Christian.
Max and Dylan won state championships and went on to play FBS college football. Max is now a wide receiver with the 49ers. Christian McCaffrey went to Stanford and was the 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up. The Panthers made him a top 10 NFL draft pick in 2017.
This season, Valor Christian is led by sophomore running back Gavin Sawchuk and offensive lineman Roger Rosengarten, who has committed to Washington.
Sawchuk had 107 yards total offense Friday (92 rushing, 15 receiving). He touched the ball 10 times and scored twice. So despite losing the last of the McCaffrey’s, Valor still appears to be a handful.
“They’re still good,” Estep said. “They’re the No. 1 team, public or private, in the state and they play in the big class. But any time a team steps outside of North Carolina and represents your state, it’s good for the school. Mallard Creek did it with Dutch Fork, and we like to have these big games early. I think it’s good for us.”
Christian was not at full strength Friday night. Quarterback Matthew Tuomala (shoulder/collarbone) and running back Henry Rutledge (ankle) missed the game. Star multi-purpose player J.B. Awolowo started out-of-position at quarterback and scored Christian’s only touchdown, a 1-yard run that made the score 35-6.
Estep felt caution was best for his injured players. He said he’s focused on state and not just one game. Charlotte Christian has won six of the past 11 state titles in the private school’s biggest class and five of the past seven.
Estep thinks that history helps all of his teams, but especially one like this year’s group, which lost all-state QB Garrett Shraders and several other key players.
“We’ve changed the mentality here,” Estep said. “I think our kids expect to win championships now and that goes a long way when you have a team at the beginning of the season with question marks and uncertainty as far as reps go. I like the senior group that we have and I think people don’t think we’re as good as we are, and I think we’re better than people think.
“I”m testing us early to see what we’re made of.”