3A FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK 2

Well, that was interesting.

In an action-packed Week 1, Class 3A saw both returning state finalists (Pueblo East and Discovery Canyon) fall in devastating fashion, the state’s top quarterback (Holy Family’s Stone Samaras) put up another electrifying performance, and the mobile Mavericks of Mead (507 yards rushing, 5 TDs) ran wild over another top-10 team.

But perhaps the story of the week came out of Longmont, where the Trojans kick-started their 2017 campaign with a 31-6 thrashing over the three-time defending state champion from Pueblo East.

Cruz Garcia ran for 104 yards, including a 38-yard scamper, Oakley Dehning tossed a pair of touchdowns, and Austin Hassler snagged a pair of picks to help Longmont claim victory over the Eagles, who had their 11-game winning streak snapped in the process.

And just like that, there was a new king atop the hill, as Longmont claimed the No. 1 spot in the CHSAANow.com coaches’ poll.

Holy Family (2-0), meanwhile, climbed from No. 3 to No. 2 after blitzing Palisade, which was ranked No. 8 at the time, 56-20. Samaras, one of the top passers in the state regardless of classification, had another ho-hum day at the office in which he threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns — all while completing over 70 percent of his passes. The Tigers are idle this week, but have a looming showdown on Sept. 15 with No. 6 Fort Morgan (1-0, at Falcon this week).

Discovery Canyon, which last year didn’t suffer a defeat until the state championship game, dropped its season opener to 4A power Fruita Monument 49-14, and in the process dropped from No. 2 to No. 8 in the rankings. The Thunder will look to turn it around against Brighton at 7 p.m. Friday.

So, what in the wide world of prep sports will happen this week?

We’re about to find out.

Here’s how it all shakes down for Week 2, starting with some of the top teams and moving through a handful of other interesting contests to watch.

 

No. 1 Longmont  (1-0) at Greeley West (1-0)

When: 6:30 p.m., Thursday

Where: District 6 Stadium, Greeley

The Blitz: Greeley West is a spry Class 4A team which snuck by an equally scrappy Roosevelt (1-1) by a 14-6 final a week ago. Longmont, of course, is the new No. 1 squad in Class 3A looking to make a strong run at the crown. Those type of ingredients are sure to make for a good, old fashioned northern Colorado brouhaha. The Trojans, led by Hassler on the defense, will look to ride the wave of momentum and get off to a 2-0 start for the second time in the last three seasons. The last time they started 2-0? It was 2016, and the Trojans remained unbeaten all the way up until the Class 4A state semifinals.

 

Vista Peak (0-1) at No. 3 Mead (1-0)

When: 7 p.m., Friday

Where: Mead High School

The Blitz: Statement. Made. The burnt orange-clad Mavericks of Mead proved that they’re coming for not just a piece of the pie, but the whole dang thing this year. The Mavericks stormed to a dominant 41-14 win on the road over then-No. 9 Lewis-Palmer in Week 1, thanks to a fantastic running performance that saw three players (Tyler Keys, Derek Edwards, Nathan Mackey) eclipse the 100-yard mark. Keys, the dual-threat QB, ran for 106 yards and three scores, while Edwards went for 203 (on just 13 carries) and a pair of touchdowns, and Mackey grinded out 132. What’s in store this week? Vista Peak, while 0-1 after a 42-27 opening loss to Erie, poses an aerial threat led by senior QB Derrick Smashum, who still threw for 296 yards and 2 TDs in the Bison loss last week.

 

Pueblo West (1-0, 4A No. 10) at No. 5 Pueblo East (0-1)

When: 7 p.m., Friday

Where: Dutch Clark Stadium, Pueblo

The Blitz: Pueblo West reclaimed its coveted Pigskin Classic trophy last week against District 70 rival Pueblo County, but heading into city limits to face an angry East team poses a different kind of test. Last year, the Cyclones seemingly had the Eagles dead to rights in their annual East/West Bowl (name unofficial, of course), before an East kick return for a touchdown sparked a thrilling comeback and led them on a quest to go unbeaten in the Steel City — and of course capture a third straight state title. But the Eagles, with a young but playoff-tested core, are coming off a thumping that likely left a bad taste in their beaks. The last time East lost to open up the season (again to Longmont in 2015), they responded with a 49-0 win in Week 2.

 

Montrose (1-1) at Palisade (1-1)

When: 7 p.m., Thursday

Where: Stocker Stadium, Grand Junction

The Blitz: Sure, Palisade has technically had one away game and one home game. But they haven’t really been on the road at this point in the season. After an opening overtime win in Zero Week against Grand Junction Central and a lopsided Week 1 loss to Holy Family, both at Grand Junction’s Stocker Stadium, the Bulldogs are hoping that familiarity breeds something closer to conquest than contempt. Last season, Palisade entered this meeting between western slope foes with a 1-1 record — after a close opening win followed by a loss to Holy Family — and it walked out with a 15-13 win. Terrance Williams and the boys will look to get the Bulldogs back on track with a little bit of home cooking and a pinch of deja vu.

 

D’Evelyn (0-1) at Green Mountain (0-1)

When: 7 p.m., Friday

Where: Jeffco Stadium, Lakewood

The Blitz: Rivalry game. Homecoming night. Two schools a stone’s throw from one another’s doorstep. It doesn’t get much more hyped than that. These two Jefferson County schools, just about five miles apart, forged a new tradition last year when they meet on the gridiron for the very first time. It was a game in which the Jaguars, ranked No. 4 in Class 2A at the time, escaped by a whisker with a 16-15 win. Friday night, on their homecoming, the Rams of Green Mountain will look to even up the series this time around and pick up an all-important first win of the season in the process.

 

Extra Points

Kennedy (1-0) at Glenwood Springs (1-0): Denver’s Kennedy High School boasts more than just one of the best nicknames in Class 3A. The Commanders, who unanimously impeached George Washington 42-7 last week at All City Stadium, enter a road contest at Glenwood Springs with a pep in their step and a chance to tie their win total from last season already. Led by Diontaye Wallace (9 rushes, 105 yards, 3 TDs in Week 1), Kennedy will march into Glenwood and face a hungry Demons squad on the western slope, which topped Conifer 20-13 last week.

Weld Central (1-0) at Skyview (1-0): In another early season showdown of the unbeatens, Skyview will host a perennial 2A scrapper in Weld Central with eyes on its first 2-0 start since 2011. The Wolverines zoomed past Centaurus 33-14 in their season opener last season, thanks to a fabulous performance by running back Deyvon Butler (196 yards, 3 TDs). These two also met last season, with Weld Central edging by Skyview 21-18.

 

Top-10 Roundup

No. 4 Silver Creek at Mountain View (Thursday)

No. 6 Fort Morgan at Falcon

No. 7 Palmer Ridge vs. Liberty

No. 8 Discovery Canyon vs. Brighton

No. 9 Erie vs. Eagle Valley

No. 10 Durango vs. Piedra Vista (N.M., Saturday)

 


Nick Jurney

Nick Jurney

Nick Jurney is a former sports writer at the Pueblo Chieftain who now makes a living as a digital marketing specialist and freelance writer in Fort Collins. You can follow him on Twitter @NVJurney for sports musings, movie reviews, and pictures of his dog.

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