League overview: The Santa Fe League has a bit of a different look as Ellicott, CSCS and Rye join Peyton, Banning Lewis and Rocky Ford. It essentially combines the old Santa Fe League with the 1A Tri-Peaks which is no longer in existence. Peyton was the only team from the new conglomerate to make the postseason in 2021. The Panther will try for yet another league title, but logic says it’s going to be a tougher road this year.


Banning Lewis

Head coach: Nic Olney

2021 Record: 5-3 (2-1 Santa Fe)

Returning All-State Players: None

The Stallions have made improvements each year since becoming a varsity program and the hope is that this year’s improvement will result in a state tournament appearance. Leading rusher Holden Stennett enters his junior with high hopes of having a breakout year. He ran for 437 yards and four touchdowns in 2021. With Joseph Bjegovich, Riley Dotson, Brayden Skinner and Ben Early also back, the Stallions will have the level of experience necessary to understand what winning is about. Because of that, Olney cites leadership as a necessary quality for the team’s desired success.


Colorado Springs Christian School

Head coach: Amos Velasquez

2021 Record: 3-5 (1-2 Tri-Peaks)

Returning All-State Players: None

The Lions took a big step back after a run of successful seasons and playoff appearances. They’re hoping it’s a short-lived regression and that they’ll be back their winning ways in 2022. They put together a good non-league schedule in Flatirons Academy, Monte Vista, Denver Christian and Woodland Park.


Head coach: Jeff Jordan

2021 Record: Did not field a team

Returning All-State Players: None

Ellicott returns to the football field for the first full season since the fall of 2019. The Thunderhawks went 0-9 that season and are actually searching for their first win since Oct. 12, 2018. They begin the season with Jeff Jordan as the new coach.


Head coach: Richard Deems

2021 Record: 6-4 (3-0 Santa Fe)

Returning All-State Players: None

Under Deems, the Panthers have found sustained success over the last several seasons. Last season wasn’t their strongest outing, and it was going to be tough heading into the playoffs as the No. 15 seed. This season could see them progress as Noah Martin got valuable playing time as a quarterback and Robert Graham appears ready for a more prominent role in the run game. He went for 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns but was behind two solid seniors on the depth chart. Jedrek Howart made a bit of name for himself as he picked off two passes and recovered a fumble. He should emerge as one of the best defensive backs in the league. This might be a young team, but it won’t be short on talent. “We only have three seniors,” Deems said. “We need the underclassmen to step up.”

Rocky Ford

Head coach: Sean McNames

2021 Record: 2-6 (1-2 Santa Fe)

Returning All-State Players: Joe Zamora (Honorable Mention)

Joe Zamora is going to have to be more of an impact player on offense in order to help the Meloneers overcome some of the woes from last season. They scored just 108 points all of last season, including six total points in their first five games. Zamora was great on defense with an interception and three fumble recoveries and is definitely one of the best athletes on the field, he just has to build on 172 total rushing yards. The Meloneers start the season on the road when they head to Monte Vista.


Head coach: Conner Pigg

2021 Record: 4-5 (1-3 Tri-Peaks)

Returning All-State Players: None

The Thunderbolts were resilient at times in 2021, getting close wins over Manitou Springs and Rocky Ford. The roster was young so there’s a chance that they come into the Santa Fe League and find themselves competing for a league title. Junior Dylan Hurne led the team in rushing with 836 yards and seven touchdowns. Pigg also points to Taye McCauley and Codah Graber as crucial returners on both sides of the ball. The big thing about the squad this year is there is no reason that it can’t compete at a high level and the responsibility is now on the players. “We can’t have excuses this season,” Pigg said. We’ve been young, we’ve been through COVID. This year, there can be no excuse.”