With week one of the football season fast approaching, it’s time to start considering the best games of the week and we begin the list with Classes 3A and 4A.    Of course, non-league action dominates the early season slate but each contest on our list are either top rivalry games or battles that will help decide playoff berths and seeding down the road.

Colorado Preps will recap week one with the Scoreboard Show set for this Friday at 9:30pm across the statewide radio network.  This is our 19th year of providing the Friday Night Rundown and sponsors this year include Bank of Colorado, Mountain States Ford Dealers, Buildings by Design, Farm Bureau Insurance, Ziggi’s Coffee, Gordon Insurance and Alpine Bank.  We appreciate their support for the 2021-22 high school sports year.



Frederick at Canon City:  Neither team reached the reduced playoff field in Class 3A last year and both ahve question marks entering the season.  Canon City (3-2) had a good season in 2020 but late losses to Pueblo South and Durango left them outside the bracket.  They must replace their leading rusher and top five tacklers from that club.  COVID left Frederick without much of their roster for the second half of last season and they managed just one win.  Two years ago, they reached the state semifinals and coach Travis Peoples expects them to be in the bracket in 2021.

Holy Family at Pueblo South:  Regular playoff teams collide in week one with the result likely playing a role in where the teams are placed in the bracket later this season.  Holy Family is ranked fourth and Pueblo South sixth so it should be a great contest.  South made the state semifinals last Fall and will rely heavily on Jace Bellah while other offensive weapons develop.  He threw for 654 yards and ran for 300 last year and also picked off four passes defensively.  Holy Family was also a Final Four club a year and returns a great nucleus from a defense that forced 21 turnovers.  Included on that list is top tackler Jared Delgado (85).  The offense has more work to do as the leading passer, top five receivers and top three rushers all graduated.

Pagosa Springs at Durango:  A nice rivalry game for Durango as the Demons start the process of defending their championship from last Fall.  They rolled through the regular season and then downed Holy Family in the semifinals and Roosevelt in the finals to land the championship.  Their strength may be up front with offensive lineman Joshua Bates.  He recently signed with the University fo Oklahoma.  On defense, Zach Haber and Luke Wesley return after combining for eight interceptions.  Pagosa used a strong running game to reach the 2A state semifinals but COVID left them with under 20 players overall for their semifinal battle with Eaton and that ended their season.

Glenwood Springs at Harrison:  A couple of teams with strong playoff and league title hopes collide in an important week one clash.  Both worked their way to 7-1 records and semifinal appearances last year.  Glenwood Springs returns plenty of experience at the skill position as Blake Nieslanik (1,009 yards rushing) and Joaquin Sandoval (484 yards passing) will lead the offense.  Leading tackler Teddy Huttenhower is also back.  Harrison seeks a third consecutive playoff berth.  Kahar Briggs (463 yards rushing) returns on offense along with defensive standouts TJ Washington, Antonio Carney-Valdez and Jesse Weber.  Should be a good matchup.

Battle Mountain at Evergreen:  There is somewhat of a rebuild for both programs going into 2021.  The Cougars were a playoff team in 2020 but lost standouts Griffin Laurentino and Noah Martens plus their top seven tacklers on defense to graduation.  Still there is tradition and some talent coming back that gives the Cougars hopes of earning another playoff bid.  Battle Mountain went 3-4 last year but also lost a talented group of seniors.  Their defense may be a bit farther along early in the season as they return their top four tacklers including Elijah Morales, Garett Sanders, Marshal Jones and Tanner Roberts.  Morales and Roberts will also see some extensive time in the offensive backfield.



Montrose at Grand Junction Central (Thursday):  Montrose is heavily favored but we list the game as it’s a solid rivalry between two former Southwestern League rivals.  Central suffered some lumps in 2020 (0-5) but Devin Hickey threw for 522 yards as a freshman QB.  The top five tacklers also return so there is some optimism in camp this year.  They will need to be physical against a Montrose club that will again run the football behind returnees Tayne Illa, Austin Griffin, Ethan Hartman and Balke Griffin.  Bode Greiner recorded 92 tackles as a junior.

Pueblo East at Palmer Ridge (Thursday):  The resounding loss to Loveland in the 4A finals last Fall should give Palmer Ridge plenty of motivation for the 2021 season.  The Bears had won three consecutive titles in 3A and were favorites in 4A before running into the Loveland runnin game.  Up front is the strength of the Bears as Connor Jones and Alec Falk both return.  They are founding members of the Monument Moving Company.  The Eagles must replace a very talented senior class that stumbled to a 2-3 record while missing the playoffs last season.

Pine Creek at Pueblo West:  Hard to believe that we enter the 2021 fall season without Pine Creek included in the top 10.  They have four state championships since 2014 and last year’s playoff loss to Palmer Ridge was their first in the opening round since 2007.  They once again will compete in a 5A league ahead of an expected 4A playoff run.  Josiah Roy threw for 661 yards and 6 TDs in five games as a junior.  Pueblo West took the field just four times last Fall and a season ending loss to Fountain Fort Carson cost them a playoff berth.  Six of the top 10 tacklers return along with QB Cole Brinkley, RBs Jermiah Sanchez and Hunter Johnson and top receiver Ethan Crapeau.

Prairie View at Brighton:  Excellent rivarly game for both schools as they look to develop momentum in week one.  Due to COVID, they did not play last year with Brighton scoring a 24-14 win in their last meeting (2019).  Despite that loss, Prairie View won seven games in 2019 but dropped back to 0-5 last year.  They scored just 12 points the entire season.  Brighton went 5-1 but that wasn’t good enough to earn a post-season bid.  Nathaniel Griffith (693 yards passing) returns as the starting QB and he’ll get help on that side of the ball from Noah Canale.

Broomfield at Golden:  The quarterback situation in this one is quite different.  Golden seeks a successor to Joey Mancuso who graduated after throwing 21 TDs over the past two years.  He led the Demons to eight wins in 2019 but then suffered through a two-win season last Fall.  Broomfield welcomes back Cole Lacrue.  As a sophomore, he tossed 10 TDs and finished with 1,017 yards through the air.  Top targets Josh Dunn and Dom Bustamante also return.  Both teams should be solid defensively.  The Eagles get back four of their top five tacklers; the Demons get back Eddie O’Sullivan and Dalton Summers who were third and fourth in tacklers last season.

Windsor at Vista Ridge:  Night and day concerning offensive strategy in this one.  Windsor wants to run it 60 times and Vista Ridge may end up attempting that many passes.  Wolves QB Bradyen Dormann threw for 1,829 yards and 24 TDs in just five games as a sophomore and is already drawing major Divison One attention.  Brandon Hills, Isaiah Garcia, Christian Cruz and Kyshawn Bridges each caught at least 10 passes last Fall and all return in 2021.  Windsor averaged 273 yards a game on the ground and returns both Dax Polka (578 yards rushing) and Jaden Thomas (426).

Longmont at Chatfield:  Fans could see plenty of points in this one as both teams have some solid offensive talent returning.  Chatfield will feature Mason Lowe who ran for 460 yards and caught a team high 18 passes.  He also found time to thrown for 193 yards.  The Chargers also return Logan Shipman, Jake Marshall and Mason Cowgill to the offense.  Longmont returns the combination of QB Keegan Patterson and Caleb Johnson.  Patterson threw for 1,968 yards and 14 TDs while Johnson latched onto 77 passes for 832 yards.  Justice Lille and Jack Moll also combined for 56 receptions.

Skyline at Rampart:  Skyline was in the running for the most disappointed teams when the playoff brackets were announced.  Their only blemish in the regular season was a one point loss to eventual state champion Loveland but it was enough to keep them out of the playoffs.  Most of the top talent graduated but there are building blocks in Logan Miller (17 catches) and Dilan Bridwell (42 tackles).  Rampart is also a regular playoff entrant that missed out when the bracket was reduced to just eight teams.  Rand Butler and Dominic Vialpando combined for 385 yards rushing last year and both will get more carries as the Rams look to boost the offense following the graduation of dual-threat QB Cale Cormaney.