The date was Nov. 10, 2017.
That’s when Erie High School had what some might call a seminal moment.
Noah Roper, who was merely a walking toddler when the school first opened in 2005, ran — nay, plunged — across the goal line for a two-point conversion that catapulted the Tigers past the three-time defending Class 3A state champion Pueblo East Eagles in the first round of the playoffs.
Was it the biggest win in program history? Hardly. The Tigers won the 2008 state championship as a member of Class 2A.
Was it the biggest win of the season. Eh, maybe not. That squad was the No. 5 seed in the Class 3A playoffs and still won two more times to reach the state championship game.
But was it a gutsy moment that proved that Erie was on the verge of being a scary (or, dare we say, eerie) opponent for years to come? You betcha.
The Erie Tigers have been downright menacing thus far in 2018, roaring out to a 3-0 start while putting up 35, 35, and 43 points.
The catalyst has of course been Roper, the leading rusher among all classifications a year ago who has already racked up 617 yards on 70 carries while rushing for nine touchdowns and throwing for another.
Erie (which has a bye this week) and a reinvigorated East, (which just toppled defending champion Palmer Ridge) have been arguably the most dominant teams early on.
After his gutsy call to go for two in that November 2017 playoff game against the Eagles, Erie coach Chad Cooper called it “a step forward.”
He also said that he had a feeling that it wouldn’t be the last time his Tigers saw Pueblo East. And well, with Erie holding down the No. 1 spot in the CHSAA rankings and Pueblo East sitting at No. 2, he may have been right.
Is it too early to start thinking about November?
#2 Pueblo East (3-0) at Pueblo West (2-1)
The Boys from Belmont have knocked off three ranked teams to start the year — including an emphatic statement victory over defending champion Palmer Ridge (28-21) last week.
While much of the talk pre-game was about the two quarterbacks, including East’s Luc Andrada (41-71, 773 yards and 10 TDs in three games), it was UCLA-commit Kain Medrano who stole the show.
Medrano picked off three Ty Evans passes and scored a pair of touchdowns — one on each side of the ball — in the Eagle victory.Medrano has just 11 catches on the year, but those 11 receptions have gone for 288 yards and five scores. Marvin London junior leads the team with 20 receptions for 323 yards, and has chipped in four scores of his own.
That’s what makes the Eagles so dangerous — if it’s not one guy, it’s the other. Or the other. Or the other.
Pueblo West — the “big brother” of sorts as the only 4A team left in Pueblo — is always up for the challenge of taking on Pueblo’s banner program over the past several years.
#4 Discovery Canyon (3-0) at #6 Holy Family (2-0)
One of two primetime battles between ranked teams in Class 3A this week, the white-hot Thunder head north to take on the well-rested (but nevertheless en fuego in their own right) Holy Family Tigers.
Holy Family started its season with a win over defending 4A champion (now in 3A) Pueblo South — and Discovery Canyon shook the Steel City with a 42-41 overtime victory over those very same Colts a week ago.
Marshall Pike, one part of a three-headed rushing attack for DisCo, helped seal the deal a week ago with a two-point conversion blast up the middle. Pike, Ryan Monteleone, and dual-threat QB Zack Anderson have combined for 529 yards and six touchdowns.
On the flip side, Holy Family junior QB Calahan Carter has thrown for 300-plus yards and three touchdowns in both Tiger victories this year.
#5 Palmer Ridge (1-2) at Sand Creek (0-2)
There might not be a better 1-2 team in the whole darn state.
The defending Class 3A state champ has stumbled through an unkind early schedule — dropping the season opener to 4A No. 1 Pine Creek before falling to No. 2 Pueblo East a week ago.
CU-commit Ty Evans has had an uncharacteristic start to the season, throwing more interceptions (8) than touchdowns (7) through the first three games.
The good news? For starters, Palmer Ridge certainly isn’t going to get punished when RPI standings come out. And secondly, it’s still early in the season — and if these Bears know anything, it’s how to reel off a big winning streak.
Evans and Co. will look to get that going this week against a much-improved Sand Creek team that dropped its last contest by the narrowest of margins, 21-20 to Cheyenne Mountain.
#7 Thomas Jefferson (2-0) at #9 Fort Morgan (2-0)
There was one team not named Erie or Pueblo East that received a first-place vote in the latest CHSAA poll.
That team just happens to share a name with an American president (or the antagonist of the Hamilton musical — depending on your perspective).
Yes indeed, the Spartans of Thomas Jefferson are off to another hot start — Daveon Hunter (267 rush yards, 221 receiving yards, six total touchdowns) and his crew will look to start 3-0 for the third consecutive season.
Standing in the way is Isaac Linker (296 passing yards, five TDs) and the Mighty Mustangs.