In three of the four Class 4A football games this weekend, the teams facing off have all seen each other this season.
That can make for some fun storylines as the playoff field continues to get cut in half each week. The bottom line is this: every team still playing is good and each winner will have earned the right to advance to next week’s semifinals.
Let the games begin.
(8) Vista Ridge at (1) Palmer Ridge, Friday 7 p.m.
The difference in this game from the regular season showdown was arguably an egregious fumble call against Vista Ridge in the first quarter. Palmer Ridge score on the ensuing drive and ended up winning the game by seven points. That helped the team secure the No. 1 overall seed in the postseason.
The Bears looked solid in their first playoff game, beating Skyline 44-7. Gator Robinson paced the offense as he ran for 136 yards and two scores. He had similar numbers against Vista Ridge on Oct. 28 and the running game will once again be crucial to keeping the ball out of the hands of the Wolves’ Division I quarterback.
After throwing for just 104 yards against Palmer Ridge to close out the regular season, Brayden Dorman looked more like himself in the Wolves’ 56-20 win over Fruita Monument last week. He threw for 236 yards and three touchdowns to help Vista Ridge advance to the quarterfinals.
(5) Montrose at (4) Loveland, Friday 7 p.m.
This the only 4A game this weekend between teams that didn’t face each other in the regular season. It could also be the shortest game of the weekend considering the way both teams run the ball.
Loveland scored two touchdowns in the first quarter against Dakota Ridge last week and was able to maintain that 14-point edge for the remainder of the game. Garrett Harstad is arguably one of the top running quarterbacks in the state and will pace the Red Wolves in this game.
Montrose has used a tight double-wing set very effectively this season and that has been demonstrated week after week this season. It also came into play late in last week’s win over Golden as the Red Hawks had the ball late in the game while trailing and made sure to run as much time as possible off the clock before punching it in for the game-winning score.
(7) Heritage at (2) Broomfield, Saturday 1 p.m.
No team gave Broomfield a test this year like Heritage did. In the regular season finale on Oct. 28, Broomfield escaped with a 17-13 win, holding Broomfield to its lowest point total this season.
In that game Cole LaCrue threw for 250 yards and a touchdown and played about as well as he could have considering the final score. He’ll try to get his legs going a little bit more this time around to try and create some distance from Heritage on the scoreboard.
Noah Shoen completed just four passes in that contest and one of them went for a touchdown. Heritage will have to be more effective this time around if it wants to advance into the 4A semifinals.
(11) Erie at (3) Ponderosa, Saturday 1 p.m.
Ponderosa got a lot of attention in Week 1 when it beat Erie. The Tigers came into the season as the No. 1 team in the state and since the start of league play have looked a top team. This might be the best heavyweight showdown of the entire weekend.
In last week’s win over Pueblo West, it was Max Mervin, not Zach Stryker, throwing the passes. He was 12-for-22 with 114 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 29 yards and a score. When healthy, Stryker has been one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks this season when healthy.
Blake Barnett meanwhile is just one of the best quarterbacks in the state, period. He rushed for four touchdowns and threw for another last week as the Tigers beat Denver South.