League overview: While the league has remained mostly intact from the previous cycle, there are a couple of changes that are notable. The Classical Academy has shifted north into League 4 while Alamosa joins the Tri-Peaks. The Mean Moose are a fresh face for Florence, La Junta, Lamar, Manitou Springs and Woodland Park who are league rivals in most sports throughout the school year. The new dynamic will be interesting to see after Alamosa has spent a lot of time playing against the likes of Bayfield, Pagosa Springs, Montezuma-Cortez and Salida.



Head coach: Drew Sandlin

2021 Record: 6-4 (3-1 Southwest)

Returning All-State Players: Kade Jones (Second Team), Kasey Jones (Honorable Mention)

The Mean Moose are out of the Southwest League and into the Tri-Peaks, taking the place of TCA. They’ll actually get a shot at the Titans in Week 3 in a game that could have major implications in the playoff landscape. The Jones brothers are back this year and Sandlin thinks they make up the best quarterback/receiver duo in the state. Kasey threw for 1,621 yards and 20 touchdowns with Kade totaling 946 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. This will be a vertan group, looking to make its mark in a brand-new league. “A key factor in the success of our team this year is going to be our senior leadership,” Sandlin said. “This is the first freshman class I had when I took over as the head coach and their commitment to football has been tremendous. We will need them to take ownership of this year and every part of the program for our team to have success.”



Head coach: Jeremy Nix

2021 Record: 9-2 (2-1 1A Tri-Peaks)

Returning All-State Players: Jesse Lutz, Lincoln Nix (Honorable Mention)

After spending a few cycles in Class 1A, the Huskies are once again a 2A team. They were the No. 4 seed on the 1A bracket last season and looked good before running in a buzzsaw in Wray. They’ll come into the season with a run-heavy offense as usual, but they’ll have some production to replace. Quarterback Levi Paxton leads all returning runners with 263 yards and seven touchdowns. Lincoln Nix will be in the mix to get a lot of carries as he went for 179 yards in 18 carries in 2021. He was the team’s leading tackler, totaling 115 last year. With those, he had 3.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. Sophomore Gage Goodall will be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks after grabbing a team-high six interceptions. Florence starts this season against Limon then plays Centauri a week later.


La Junta

Head coach: Drew Sisson

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

Returning All-State Players: None

After losing three of their first five games, the Tigers went on a strong run to close out the regular season and made the 2A playoffs as a result. Their lone league loss came against TCA, who is gone, but also got beat by Alamosa, who is now in the Tri-Peaks. La Junta gets a ton of offensive production back as Jeremiah Martinez and Luke Garner each rushed for over 700 yards and at least 12 touchdowns apiece. As the starting quarterback, Garner also threw for 689 yards and six scores. Andrew Raso Jr. returns as the team’s leading tackler and he also recovered a fumble, one of six for the Tigers. A tough game against Pueblo East will give the Tigers a good measurement of their status before heading into league play.



Head coach: Jason Tice

2021 Record: 2-7 (0-4 Tri-Peaks)

Returning All-State Players: None

After coming so close to winning the 2A title, senior losses hit Lamar hard. Now with the Savages mascot having been retired and the Thunder taking its place, 2022 should feel like a fresh start for the program. Deyago Vasquez and Cael Buxton each saw time at quarterback, and both will be back this season. Raif Kee and Daigan Adame were two of Lamar’s top three rushers last year and they’ll both return to give the Thunder a versatile offense with loads of experience. Brenden Sneller had a standout defensive year as he led the team in tackles (83) and interceptions (seven) and could be even better as a senior. The Thunder will ease into their schedule with games against Trinidad and Fort Lupton and hope to be in a groove by the team league play begins.


Manitou Springs

Head coach: Stu Jeck

2021 record: 2-7 (1-3 Tri-Peaks)

Returning All-State Players: None

The Mustangs were hoping to see continued success in 2021 after they claimed the Season C 2A championship in May of 2021. But the loss of key seniors led to a step back. The Mustangs return players in key positions as Nate Gentzel enters his junior season after getting a full year of quarterback under his belt. Tyler Maloney will take the bulk of the carries at running back after running for 503 yards and three touchdowns in shared duty last season. Other young players such as Sam Fournier and Brayden Dowling will anchor the defense. The Mustangs have plenty of youth to develop as Kyan Bunker, Preston Rhodes, Logan Moore and Jarrin Hall should all find the field. Jeck is entering his second season as head coach and dreams of assembling a blueprint that will lead to long-term success for the Mustangs. That blueprint involves “Playing disciplined football, doing the little things right, committing to the process and loving the game and your teammates,” Jeck said.


Woodland Park

Head coach: Chad Drummond

2021 Record: 4-4 (2-2 Tri-Peaks)

Returning All-State Players: None

Woodland Park provided a textbook example of a .500 season. They had some big wins, some big losses and a couple of good battles. There’s enough talent coming back that asking the Panthers to match their four wins – at a bare minimum – is not unreasonable. Aiden Hernandez led them in rushing yards with 464 and he scored four touchdowns. Considering the entire team attempted just 43 passes on the season, it’s fair to say the team might be relying on Hernandez in the ground game a little bit. Senior Caleb Graves was second on the team with 37 tackles and he also grabbed two interceptions and should continue to be a playmaker on defense. The Panthers play three of their four non-league games at home which should help them get off to a solid start in 2022.