Greeley Westâ€™s push for a 3-0 start and a probably spot in the rankings was derailed by a late interception at Fort Collins last week. But donâ€™t count out the Spartans quite yet.
Derek West was a one-man wrecking crew in the 40-35 loss, racking up 225 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. The junior has already rushed for 404 yards, complementing 296 from classmate Dorrean Starks. More importantly for the Spartans (2-1), theyâ€™ll have the immediate opportunity to make an early-season splash.
Coach Jason Renoufâ€™s crew will play host to Windsor on Thursday night, a Wizards squad that ascended to No. 4 in the latest CHSAANow.com Class 4A poll after a convincing 26-point win against Broomfield. The lone loss for Windsor (2-1) was a 10-0 decision to top-ranked Pine Creek in Week 2.
The schedule softens somewhat for Greeley West after this one, so the potential for a sustained run is there if they can upend the Wizards. That will be no easy task, naturally, as coach Chris Jones is back after a one-year hiatus and the Windsor defense is performing much like it did in its title-winning season of 2015.
The contest figures to get Week 4 off to a rousing start on the 4A circuit, and hereâ€™s a look at a handful of other key games to watch in the classification:
Loveland at Fort Collins (6 p.m., Thursday)
Fort Collins will aim to keep things rolling after the emotional win against Greeley West, but quarterback Hayden Iverson and company will have their hands full against the No. 6 Indians. Loveland (3-0) blasted Greeley Central 60-0 last week and has outscored its first three opponents 136-14. Running back Zach Weinmaster and his teammates certainly understand that Fort Collins (2-1) will represent the Indiansâ€™ first true test of the season. Seniors Garrett McGraw and Jace Weide have combined for 55 tackles for the Lambkins, including nine for a loss.
Vista Ridge at Pine Creek (7 p.m., Friday)
No one can accuse Pine Creek of going soft with its early-season schedule. Two of the Eaglesâ€™ first three opponents were of the 5A variety, and their lone 4A adversary in that span was Windsor. But the Eagles have emerged from that onslaught 3-0 and have given up a total of only 14 points. Itâ€™s more of the same this week, as a solid Vista Ridge squad comes to town. The Wolves (2-1) are sitting just outside the rankings, but theyâ€™ve convincingly won two games after opening with a 14-3 loss to Windsor. Receiver Jaylen Thomas will have to make a few big plays in this one for the Wolves to have a shot.
Brighton at Monarch (10 a.m., Saturday)
Monarch has the swagger back â€“ on both sides of the ball. While the defense has allowed only 20 points during the No. 8 Coyotesâ€™ 3-0 start, Cole Polluconi is becoming the next in a prestigious line of dominant backs. The wrestler extraordinaire has grinded out 371 yards and six TDs, exemplifying the perfect fit for Monarchâ€™s ball-control attack. Brighton is the antithesis of Monarch, with a pass-heavy attack led by quarterback Robbie Coffin. The Bulldogs (2-1) are coming of an impressive 20-3 win against Heritage, and defensive end Ian Helwick (32 tackles, eight for loss) has been a beast for Brighton.
Coronado at Pueblo South (7 p.m., Friday)
Being part of one of the most epic regular-season games in recent memory had to be an enthralling experience for Pueblo South. But you can pardon the Colts (2-1) if some of the thrill factor was vanquished by the notion that they fell 55-54 in double overtime to Pueblo West. As such, they fell from No. 3 to No. 9 and will be looking to quickly return to their winning ways. Receiver Marcell Barbee (202 yards, four TDs in the loss) is hoping to continue his upward trajectory, while Coronado (2-1) will have to get creative in hopes of stopping Pueblo Southâ€™s multifaceted attack. Cougars junior Troy Renner has already rushed for 602 yards and seven TDs.
Pueblo West at Dakota Ridge (4 p.m., Friday)
Pueblo West is putting up points at a devastating rate. Granted, the 55-point performance in the bonkers win against Pueblo South helped boost the average, but the No. 4 Cyclones (3-0) are putting up nearly 40 points a game behind running back Devyn Morgan and friends. Nieyeme Smeyer-Williams has been a beast in the receiving and the returning game. The Cyclones will try to remain perfect against a Dakota Ridge squad hungry to get back to .500 after a 28-16 loss to Vista Ridge. The Eagles (1-2) have shown flashes offensively but havenâ€™t quite reach peak efficiency.
Rampart at Ponderosa (7 p.m., Friday)
The Ponderosa defense is back on a shutout spree. After blanking five foes last season, the Mustangs (3-0) are riding a streak of two consecutive goose eggs. While Quinton Ostdahl (26 tackles) has led the defense, the Ponderosa offense has been on point as well. Running back Jevon Glover is averaging 120 yards on the ground per game and quarterback Sterling Ostdahl has already tossed seven TD passes. Coach Jaron Cohenâ€™s Mustangs will take on a Rampart squad that is knocking at the door of the 4A poll. The first team receiving votes, the Rams (3-1) have only lost to Monarch.
Additional ranked teams in action include No. 3 Chatfield at 5A No. 4 Columbine (see the 5A report for a breakdown on that Friday-night showdown), No. 5 Fruita Monument at Grand Junction Central (Thursday) and No. 10 Broomfield at Greeley Central (Saturday).
RPI STANDINGS (PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 19TH)
- Pine Creek
- Fruita Monument
- Pueblo West
- Standley Lake
- Cheyenne Mountain
- Fort Collins
- Greeley West
- Vista Ridge
- Pueblo South
- Mountain View
- Air Academy
- Grand Junction
- Dakota Ridge