Three games on the 4A football schedule in the final weekend of the season find conference leaders still needing wins over second place teams to win league titles outright. Cheyenne Mountain must get by Widefield to land the I-25 crown; Denver South looks for the Metro 2 title by beating Vista Peak and Dakota Ridge must take out Chatfield for the Metro 1 championship.
Since only the league champion advances from the I-25, maybe the most pressure is on Cheyenne Mountain as a loss could knock them out of the playoffs. Should Widefield get the win, the two clubs will be tied with Falcon in a three-way tie and a tiebreaker will be needed to determine which team enters the bracket. Cheyenne Mountain is coming off a physical 10-6 win over Falcon while Widefield fell short to the Falcons 23-13 the week before.
Cheyenne Mountain’s defense was the difference as they allowed a touchdown on the opening drive but held Falcon off the scoreboard the rest of the night. Nico Gagliardi had 10 tackles and Owen Growney seven and both had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The Red-Tailed Hawks also created two turnovers.
The offense did just enough as Gagliardi totaled 105 yards and scored their only touchdown. Zach Johnson added 95 yards.
Widefield ran for 174 yards and threw for 102 in the loss to Falcon. Gabriel Sagura finished with 67 yards on the ground and Braydon Demattos-Burrons added 57. Isaiah Martinez topped the defensive effort with 10 stops. But the Gladiators surrendered 301 yards rushing so maybe the Red-Tailed Hawks can have success on the ground.
Denver South took over the Metro 2 lead by beating Aurora Central 39-21 last week. Both the Ravens and Trojans were unbeaten in league play so now Denver South can earn the crown with another win over Vista Peak. The Bison are tied with A-Central in second place (3-1) and should they spring the upset, then the end result could be a three-way tie provided A-Central also gets by Centaurus which is not a given. If the Warriors get the win in that one; then the South-Vista Peak winner is the conference champion.
The Ravens got another big effort from Joe Capra and Rashad Caldwell as the two connected for two scoring plays. Capra threw for 127 yards and three TDs on the night. The offense received even more of a boost from the run game where Chevelle Early powered his way to 161 yards and a score.
Jonah Burk led the defensive effort with six tackles including two for loss. He added an interception. Gage Kramer added seven tackles but the Ravens still allowed 261 yards rushing and another 104 passing.
The Bison lost to Aurora Central 27-7 on October 7th but has since rolled past Grand Junction 39-7 and Gateway 54-0 to remain in the title chase. They are just 24th in RPI so they’re on the bubble as a wildcard making their best route of the bracket a league championship. The Bison allowed 262 yards rushing to A-Central and will need to better against South.
A very exciting Metro 1 chase comes to a close this weekend with more highly anticipated games. The first is on Thursday between Golden and Bear Creek and the outcome of that will set up scenarios for the feature attraction of Dakota Ridge and Chatfield the next night. Dakota Ridge enters the schedule unbeaten in league play and alone atop the standings. Bear Creek and Chatfield are one game back with Golden out of the title chase because of losses each of the last two weeks.
Both losses were more than competitive as the Demons lost to Chatfield 50-49 two weeks ago and then 45-38 to Dakota Ridge last week. Despite those losses, they have enough firepower to take out Bear Creek and if that happens, then the Dakota Ridge-Chatfield winner is the league champion. If Bear Creek beats Golden on Thursday, then Dakota Ridge must top Chatfield to win the championship outright. Its all for bragging rights and trophy winning as all four teams are playoff bound. Chatfield is 5th in RPI, Dakota Ridge 6th with Bear Creek and Golden 11th and 12th.
Dakota Ridge has won the last three in the series with Chatfield but the Chargers had won the previous six. The Eagles are 9-0 and have outscored opponents 422-131. In last week’s win over Golden, the Eagles picked up 147 yards and three touchdowns on the ground from Noah Triplett. Adam Graves added 168 yards passing with TD tosses to Dante Capolungo and Jacob Lafave. Those two were also impactful on defense as they each recorded a turnover and Lafave tied with Isac Pingarron for a team-high seven tackles.
Chatfield ran for 462 yards in beating Golden two weeks ago with Jake Marschall totaling 295 on 42 attempts. Sam Ayres and Mason Lowe also scored twice. The defense though allowed 491 yards to the Demons but Lowe had two picks that helped turn the game in the Eagles’ favor.
Golden-Bear Creek should feature plenty of points. We’ve mentioned the Demons firepower of late with most of it coming from QB Jazell Riley. Against Chatfield and Dakota Ridge, the junior has totaled 303 yards and four touchdowns on the ground and thrown for 470 yards and three scores. He’s been involved in 31 touchdowns overall this year with almost 23-hundred yards of offense.
Bear Creek counters with a nice set of triplets in Jaedon Minter, Black McComber and Ryan Segovia. Minter has 1,873 yards and 18 touchdowns passing, McComber has 49 catches for 797 yards and 10 scores while Segovia has 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns running the football.
The Bears are the only league team to beat Chatfield and their losses are against unbeaten opponents Erie (39-21) and Dakota Ridge (52-13).
Two attractive matchups inside the Southern 1 conference are for postseason bracketing as Montrose (9-0) has already clinched hte league championship. The Indians close at home against Ponderosa while Palmer Ridge and Vista Ridge face off to determine second in the standings. All four clubs have their eyes on a first round bye as Montrose is #1 in RPI, Palmer Ridge #5, Vista Ridge #9 and Ponderosa #10.
Ponderosa is likely the seventh playoff team Montrose has faced this year. Their opponents winning percentage is .598 so beating the Mustangs should give them the top overall playoff seed. Ponderosa has an even better opponents winning percentage (.604) that will only go up against the unbeaten Indians. Palmer Ridge has faced opponents that win 54 percent of their games and Vista Ridge is 57 percent.
Vista Ridge scored an important win last week as they downed Ponderosa in a defensive battle 10-7. It was the fewest points scored in a win since week two of the 2019 season and it proves to the Wolves they can win a slugfest in the playoffs. Brayden Dorman threw for 214 yards and connected with Brandon Hills ten times. Palmer Ridge is 8-1 with the lone loss to Montrose.
Erie (9-0) is the Metro 3 champion and closes the regular season agianst Windsor. The Tigers are 4th in RPI and will get a first round bye but Windsor is 23rd in those standings so they could use a win to get in as a wildcard. League members Broomfield (#19) and Brighton (#25) are also battling for a spot in the 24-team bracket.
Loveland (8-1) won the Northern 2 crown last week. Their only loss is against 5A Ralston Valley when they didn’t have QB Garret Harstad in uniform. They’re 9th in RPI so they’re in contention for a first round bye. The Red Wolves meet Grand Junction Central in the final week. The Warriors are 26th in RPI and also need to move up to feel safe about their playoff chances. Skyline and Longmont are 17th and 18th in RPI and are two league members that should be safely in.
Fountain Fort Carson (8-1) is the Southern 2 winner. They’re 10th in RPI and finish up with Coronado. The league should get four bids all-together as Pueblo West is 12th in RPI, Fruita Monument 15th and Mesa Ridge 16th. All four could be at home in the opening round.