While no large-scale surprises surrounded the squads that qualified for the Class 4A football playoffs, one final-week result led to a significant shakeup in the bracket.
Due to Ponderosa’s surprisingly lopsided loss to Pueblo South, the Mustangs (9-1) fell to a No. 10 seed and will open against No. 7 Loveland (10-0). That means two teams that entered Week 10 with zero losses and spent most of the year in the top five of the rankings will square off in the first round.
Otherwise, a few rematches — Rampart vs. Monarch and Windsor vs. Broomfield — will make for compelling first-round action. Here’s a capsulized look at all eight games as the win-or-go-home portion of the season arrives:
No. 16 Golden at No. 1 Pine Creek (7 p.m., Friday)
Golden will attempt to pull off the impossible. Pine Creek has won three of the past four 4A titles and appears primed to defend its 2016 crown. The Eagles (9-1), whose lone loss was a three-point decision to 5A Ralston Valley, have gotten 1,205 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns from sensational sophomore David Moore. Golden (7-3) had won only 10 games over the previous six seasons, including only one last season. Behind new coach Jared Yannacito and quarterback David O’Connell (23 TD passes), the Demons have made monumental improvements.
No. 9 Monarch at No. 8 Rampart (1 p.m., Saturday)
These teams met in Week 2 with Monarch earning a grind-it-out 14-7 victory. The Coyotes were at home in that one and will have to travel to Colorado Springs this time to take on the Rams at District 20 Stadium. Both teams enter 8-2, and fitting of the seeds, this is perhaps the most evenly matched first-round contest. Monarch’s Cole Polluconi has been the primary ball carrier and has racked up 1,122 yards and 16 touchdowns. Keion Cross and Jackson Beale have combined for just under 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns for Rampart, which made a clean 5-0 sweep through the Pikes Peak League.
No. 13 Standley Lake at No. 4 Pueblo West (1 p.m., Saturday)
Pueblo West (9-1) was so impressive this season that the Cyclones earned the lofty seed despite finishing second in the Pikes Peak League (their lone loss was a 21-14 decision to league champ Pine Creek). Pierre Taylor has rushed for more than 100 yards in seven straight games for the Cyclones and enters the postseason with 1,290 yards and 17 touchdowns. Devyn Morgan and Jacob Wilkinson have added 16 more TDs on the ground. Standley Lake’s lone losses were to 5A Arvada West and third-seeded Fruita Monument. Ty Webber is 12 rushing yards shy of 1,000 for the Gators.
No. 12 Skyline at No. 5 Chatfield (6 p.m., Friday)
Skyline is averaging 50.9 points per game and has one of the most exciting players in the classification in running back Jeremy Hollingsworth (1,899 rushing yards, 31 TDs). Odds are, Hollingsworth and the Falcons (8-2) won’t be able to put up points at such a scintillating rate against the stout Chatfield defense, but they’ll pose a challenge to the Chargers (9-1) nonetheless. Chatfield enters on a nine-game winning streak and are allowing a mere 11.8 points per game. Ben Frenette has rushed for 1,329 yards and 20 TDs for the Chargers and defensive back Keland Ramsey has picked off three passes.
No. 14 Vista Ridge at No. 3 Fruita Monument (1 p.m., Saturday)
Braeden Graham and Treyton Queen have been beats for Fruita Monument and a primary reason why the Wildcats (10-0) have been able to run the table this season. Graham has rushed for 1,590 yards and 22 touchdowns while Queen has added 1,054 on the ground and 13 more scores. The Wildcats are 2-0 vs. teams in the 4A playoff field with wins against Montrose and Standley Lake. Vista Ridge (6-4) has had an up-and-down season, and the Wolves had won three straight before a loss to Rampart in the regular-season finale. Jaylen Thomas needs 72 rushing yards to crack 1,000 for the Wolves.
No. 11 Montrose at No. 6 Pueblo South (1 p.m., Saturday)
Pueblo South made perhaps the largest late-season statement by walloping Ponderosa 53-24 last week to capture the Foothills League. Zach Cozzolino passed for 462 yards and six TDs, including three to Marcell Barbee, shredding a defense that had yielded only 45 points all season. The Colts (9-1), whose lone loss was a 55-54 double-overtime decision to Pueblo West in Week 3, will aim to keep it going against a Montrose (7-3) squad that easily could have been a higher seed. The Indians’ three losses were by a total of six points, including two games decided by a single point.
No. 10 Ponderosa at No. 7 Loveland (7 p.m., Friday)
The teams enter with a combined 19-1 record, so why are they meeting in the first round? Some will claim that each played a relatively tame schedule, Ponderosa’s season-closing meeting with Pueblo South notwithstanding. The teams will have a chance to put their detractors to rest here in the marquee first-round matchup. Ponderosa (9-1) has registered six shutouts and running back Jevon Glover is approaching quadruple digits on the ground. Loveland (10-0) yields a mere 6.8 points per game and has four shutouts of its own. Zach Weinmaster has rushed for 1,215 yards and 22 TDs for the Indians.
No. 15 Broomfield at No. 2 Windsor (1 p.m., Saturday)
These two teams always seem to find one another. This is the fourth matchup between the two over the past two seasons and second in the postseason. Broomfield swept the meetings last season, including a 25-13 triumph over the Wizards in the semifinals. Windsor thumped the Eagles 40-14 earlier this season and would like nothing more than to avenge last season’s elimination. Windsor (9-1), the 2015 champion, has coach Chris Jones back in the fold after a one-year hiatus and has won eight straight. Broomfield (6-4) had to scramble to make the postseason by winning its final four games, but the Eagles are playing their best football of the season.