League overview: The Northwest League still has a familiar Jeffco feel to it, and the league will only feel more so that way with the addition of Wheat Ridge, which drops down from the 4A ranks. Skyview is the league’s other new addition, with Lewis-Palmer and league champion Lutheran moving out. Evergreen and Green Mountain both made the postseason but were eliminated in the first round.


Head coach: John Shipley

2021 Record: 3-7 (1-4 Northwest)

Returning All-State Players: None

Conifer may have finished fifth in league play last fall, but what that doesn’t show is the strong showing in the final weeks with a 20-6 loss to Green Mountain and a five-point setback to Evergreen in the season finale. Wyatt Nichols was supposed to be the starting quarterback, but was injured on the final play of the team’s scrimmage in August and missed the entire season. Coach John Shipley said Nichols has worked hard to return to full health. Among the team’s top returners are Nic Hudson, Evan Clark, Austin Knolmayer, Trent Wiltse, Grady Forsythe, Seth Goodrich and Caidan White. Nichols, Jackson Kosar, Cam Sadowski, Mike Metzger, Mason Murphy, JR Ryan, Jack Hughes, Benson White, Carston Wolanske and Tristan Swanson are some of the underclassmen to watch this fall. Defending state champion Fort Morgan is the team’s opening opponent.



Head coach: Matthew Van praag

2021 Record: 8-3 (3-2 Northwest)

Returning All-State Players: Russ Woodward (Second Team); Jack Johnson, Tommy Poholsky, Gabe Zimmerer (Honorable Mention)

Evergreen returns four players who received all-state accolades from an eight-win team that finished third in league play. Quarterback Tommy Poholsky passed for nearly 2,000 yards with 21 touchdowns, and running back Gabe Zimmerer rushed for 784 yards and 13 scores. Linebacker Jack Johnson had a team-high 114 tackles, while defensive lineman Russ Woodward tied for the team lead with 4.5 sacks with Jordan Turnbull, who was also a junior. That nucleus should give the Cougars a big boost going into the 2022 campaign.


Green Mountain

Head coach: Jesse German

2021 Record: 6-5 (4-1 Northwest)

Returning All-State Players: Austin Contreras, Anthony DiGrazia (Honorable Mention)

Like Evergreen, Green Mountain returns plenty of experience and a pair of all-state talents in senior Anthony DiGrazia and junior Austin Contreras. The Rams dropped four of their five non-league contests, but bounced back to go 4-1 in league play to make the playoffs. In addition to DiGrazia and Contreras, coach Jesse German mentioned key returners like seniors Donnie Carney, Jordan Baca and Zach Wallace; and juniors George Soppe, David Ives, Max Chobian, Austin Beeson, Colton Patterson and Blake Weslin. The Rams started 17 sophomores last fall, with Dalton Polignot and Nowell Dacres and current sophomores Demetrius Padilla and Hudson Burke among the underclassmen expected to contribute this fall. The team opens in Florida and has another tough non-league slate before opening league play with Evergreen.



Head coach: Ricky Manzanares

2021 Record: 1-9 (0-5 Northwest)

Returning All-State Players: None

After a season-opening victory over Lincoln, the Lions dropped their next nine games. Littleton had a young team though, giving the Lions more experience to work with this fall. Among the key returners are seniors Bryce Mhlanga (running back), Ethan Bird (tight end/defensive end), Tim Higgins (quarterback), Aiden Lauer (wide receiver/cornerback), Wilson Kirk (WR/DB), Brady Jenkins (offensive lineman/defensive lineman) and Conor Wherry (fullback/defensive end). Juniors Nashawn Harrison (OL/DL), Ryan Braun (OL/DL), Colton Gerber (OL/DL) and Armando Jimenez (linebacker/safety) should help fill holes as well. Second-year coach Ricky Manzanares said the keys will be stopping the run, and being able to get the ball to the team’s playmakers in open space.



Head coach: Norman Maestas

2021 Record: 0-9 (0-4 North Central 2)

Returning All-State Players: None

Skyview joins the Jeffco-heavy league this fall, looking to rebound from a winless 2021 season. The Wolverines were shut out in five games a year ago, though Omar Loza was one of the team’s top rushers as a sophomore.


Wheat Ridge

Head coach: Brandon Wilkes

2021 Record: 0-10 (0-5 Metro 1)

Returning All-State Players: None

Declining enrollment dropped the Farmers down into the 3A classification, where they will resume some old Jeffco rivalries coming off a winless season. While Wheat Ridge did lose a number of starters to graduation, the team did have some juniors who started last fall. Quarterback Sam Christensen, running back Eric Gassman and tight end Samuel McCune are among the players returning on offense.