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Myles Purchase has always been “that kid.”
Faster than his schoolyard buddies at Green Valley Ranch Elementary, gifted with excellent hand-eye coordination and blessed with athletic instincts — that was Purchase.
“I think the first time I realized how good he was was back in the fifth grade, in pee-wee football,” recalled his father, Brian Purchase, who played backup point guard for the University of Colorado basketball team in 1989-90.
“Myles was playing quarterback back then. His team was way behind at halftime — down by two touchdowns, I think — but Myles ran for three touchdowns in the second half and his team won. He just ran right by the other kids, that’s when I knew.”
A lot of former CU Buffs football players, including all-American Alfred Williams, who went on to win a Super Bowl with the Broncos, were involved in the youth football scene in north Denver.
“They used to tell me that Myles’ field vision was incredible,” Brian Purchase recalled. “So they all saw it way back when. It wasn’t just me.”
But it takes more than raw skills to do what Myles Purchase has done.
On Saturday night, the Cherry Creek High School senior, who’s committed to Iowa State, will play in his third consecutive Class 5A state title game. His Bruins (8-0), the defending state champions, will take on powerhouse Valor Christian (7-0) at the ThunderBowl at CSU-Pueblo.
“What people don’t see is how incredibly smart Myles is,” said Creek defensive coordinator Tom Dougherty, who helped transform Purchase from a running back into a star defensive back. “He has this great retention of information. He understands schemes and what teams are trying to do.
“He sees the big picture and enjoys putting all of the pieces together. He’s a big film guy, he watches a lot of film. So, really, he’s become our coach on the field.”
Purchase, 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, has had a remarkable senior season. He’s intercepted five passes, returning two of them for touchdowns. He also has two punt return touchdowns. He didn’t have a single carry all season until head coach Dave Logan decided to add a wrinkle to the Bruins’ offense by installing Purchase in the backfield in last week’s semifinals against Pomona. The result: Purchase rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-7 victory over the Panthers.
He’s likely to be in the backfield again Saturday when the Bruins try to avenge their 24-14 loss to Valor in the 2018 state championship game.
“It’s a great matchup,” said Purchase, whose younger brother, Blake, a 6-4, 205-pound sophomore defensive end, also will start Saturday. “Valor is a team I’ve been waiting to play again since my sophomore year when we lost to them. So it’s really exciting to be able to play them again.
“And it’s really fun to be back in the backfield again. We had been saving that for the playoffs, so it was definitely fun to get my hands on the ball and score some touchdowns. It’s an exciting way to close out my high school career.”
Before the season began, Logan said he considered Purchase the best all-around prep football player in the state. Purchase’s performance against Pomona solidified Logan’s opinion.
“There are very few things that he can’t do,” Logan said this week. “He’s an excellent corner. He can play safety, he’s big in the kick and punt return game. He’s dangerous with his hands on the ball.”
Dougherty is even more effusive with his praise.
“He’s electric,” Dougherty said. “He’s altered teams’ punting strategies because nobody wants to punt to him. Defensively, he can totally take away a team’s best receiver. And every time he touches the ball, people hold their breath.”
Purchase is humbled by the praise and grateful for the people who have shaped him. He calls Logan “a second father figure” and refers to Dougherty as “my guiding force on defense.”
Purchase credits his mom, Telaya, and his dad, for making him keep his nose in his schoolbooks.
And, finally, way back when Purchase first scampered around the other kids in flag football, there was Art Walker, father of Cherry Creek senior defensive end Arden Walker, who happens to be Purchase’s best friend.
“Coach Walker has been my coach for almost my whole life in football,” Purchase said. “He guided me and put the football in my hands at a young age. I would not be where I am without him.”