With all seven conference championships still up in the air, there’s not a better way to close out the 4A football season. Three of the seven titles will be decided with head-to-head matchups of unbeaten leagues while the other four have a league leader needing a win over a second place team to secure the title.
Loveland (7-2) at Skyline (7-2)
It’s a state championship rematch from last Fall with the winner nabbing the Longs Peak championship. The teams have had remarkably similar seasons as both opened 1-2 but have won their last six behind stellar quarterback play. Loveland has won all four league games by double figures including three by at least 20. Skyline has the same mark with the narrowest margin of victory at 13 over Monarch. The other wins are by 29, 43 and 44 points.
For quarterbacks, Chase Silva leads the Falcons. He’s thrown for 1,995 yards and 27 TD’s. The junior started twice against Loveland last season throwing for 151 yards and a score in a 42-14 regular season loss and 133 yards with four interceptions in the 62-14 state finals loss. Loveland’s Zach Ratowsky is a dual threat with 679 yards passing and 827 rushing. He leads the team in both categories and has been involved with 20 touchdowns. Ratowsky was not the starter last season but has done a great job in quickly becoming a team leader in 2019.
Ratowsky gets help from Jojo Bork (603 yards rushing) and Joe Killian (14 catches for 238 yards). Silva spreads the ball around as Grayden Bridwell (39), Nick Peterson (29) and Austin Robison (21) all have at least 20 catches. They’ve combined for 19 touchdowns with Bridwell topping the list with eight.
Skyline is 7th in RPI and Loveland 10th so the winner should be at home in the first round of the playoffs. Brackets are released on Sunday.
Vista Peak (9-0) at Fruita Monument (6-3)
Not only are the Bison trying to land the Pioneer conference championship, they’re also trying to complete the first unbeaten regular season in school history. Sitting at #6 in RPI, they’ve already wrapped up their first ever playoff berth. Fruita Monument is a regular visitor to the playoffs and a win gives them a second consecutive conference crown.
Both teams want to establish the run game. Fruita Monument averages 262 yards per game and is lef by Denim Luster with 866 yards and nine TD’s. Ethan Cox, with 483 yards and six scores, is a nice second option while QB Kade Bessert has added 11 scores. That trio has led Fruita to 309 points on the season. They’ve scored at least 42 points in each of the four conference wins and have been over 55 twice.
Vista Peak started the conference run with a hard fought 27-21 win over Hinkley but has tallied at least 45 points in their last three league victories. Ja’derris Carr-Kersh needs just 34 yards to reach 13-hundred for the season and he’s already scored 20 touchdowns. Monty Hamrick (537) and Gene Sledge JR (511) are two others with at least 500 yards and they’ve combined for 14 scores.
The Bison have a slight edge throwing the football. Victor Owens has thrown for 824 yards and nine TD’s. Bessert is at 377 yards with five scores for Fruita Monument.
Fruita Monument is #12 in RPI and even with a win, the Wildcats may be on the road in round one of the playoffs as league champs are no longer promised a home game to start the playoff run.
Pueblo West (8-1) at Rampart (5-4)
The third pairing of league teams without a loss is found in the Pikes Peak conference where Pueblo West and Rampart are both 4-0. The winner of course lands the conference crown and while both clubs have that as a goal, the outcome is much more important to the Rams. Pueblo West is #8 in RPI and while they could use a win to lock up a home game in round one, they’re in the playoffs regardless of the outcome. That’s not the case for Rampart. The Rams are #24 in RPI and must win the league crown to make the bracket.
West has dominated league opponents with three wins by 47 points and a fourth by 28. The defense has allowed just 17 points over the stretch with 14 of those coming late against Air Academy. They average 227 yards rushing and 149 through the air with much of the damage coming from QB Chandler Mason. He’s thrown for 1,325 yards and 20 TD’s with just two interceptions. He’s added 11 more scores running the ball with 433 yards on the season. Dawson Menegatti is a big play threat on the outside. He’s averaging 29 yards per catch on 18 receptions with eight touchdowns.
Rampart needs to run the football to upset the Cyclones. They’re averaging 288 yards per game with QB Cale Cormaney the top rusher with 1,035 yards and 10 scores. He’s thrown for 573 yards with eight touchdown passes. Chris Yoo (946 yards) is also closing in on a thousand yards. He’s reached the end zone 13 times.
Pine Creek (8-1) at Vista Ridge (5-4)
Pine Creek has been ranked number one by coaches the entire season and a win here should secure the top overall playoff seed when the bracket is released on Sunday. They start the game atop the RPI standings and Vista Ridge has a good enough record to keep them there with a win. A loss may drop them a spot or two.
The Eagles are the league champions with a win while Vista Ridge creates a likely three-way tie with GJ Central if they score the major upset. Central is at Mesa Ridge this week and should the Warriors drop that game, the winner of this one is the conference champion.
There are not any surprises in the Pink Creek offense. David Moore, with 1,704 yards and 23 TD’s, is the number one option. He’s been over 100 yards in eight of nine games this year and needs 271 to reach 7,000 for his career. If defenses stack up against the run, that frees up QB Gavin Herberg to throw the ball downfield. He has 20 scoring passes against just four interceptions. Eddie Kyle has caught six touchdown passes.
Vista Ridge dropped a conference game to Grand Junction (27-24) but has won their last three to stay within range of the first place Eagles. The Wolves are very young. Freshman QB Brayden Gorman has 1,788 yards and 12 TD’s but he’s also thrown 12 interceptions. He will need to avoid turnovers against the top team in Class 4A. Another freshman, Brandon Hillis, is a threat in the passing game. He’s caught 14 passes for four touchdowns. Five other receivers have between 10 and 20 receptions.
The Wolves are 19th in RPI and will boost up in strength of schedule regardless of the result. Whether its enough to get them into the top 16 and into the playoffs is their most pressing question.
Broomfield (8-0) at Longmont (6-3)
The Eagles are one of two remaining unbeaten teams in Class 4A; joining Vista Peak at 9-0 entering the final week of the season. They still need a win over Longmont to officially clinch the Northern crown. The Trojans are 3-1 in league play and tied with Windsor in second. A Longmont win likely leaves all three teams sharing the top trophy. The Trojans are 15th in RPI and on the playoff bubble but a win should get them qualified.
Coach Blair Hubbard collected career win number 200 last week as the Eagles stuffed Brighton 7-0. It was the second shutout of the season for a defense that’s allowed only 88 points overall including just 32 in four conference wins.
Two straight wins has kept Longmont in the league title and playoff chase. They topped Brighton 20-14 two weeks ago and then dropped Mountain View 47-23 last week. They ran for 224 yards with three touchdowns last week. Bradyen Engelking scored twice and finished with a team best 72 yards. Keegan Patterson completed 14 of 22 attempts for 155 yards and two touchdowns; one apiece to Aiden Tank and Christian Hart.
Heritage (7-2) at Ponderosa (6-3)
The Mustangs may have scored the most important win in week 10 as their 7-0 road win at Montrose gave them control of the Metro chase. They sit alone in first place and a home win over Heritage gives them the championship. Last week’s win also pushed the Mustangs to #11 in RPI and another quality win this week could get them into the top eight and at home in round one of the playoffs.
Jack Hanenberg had the lone touchdown last week as his short scramble early in the fourth quarter marked the only points of the game. The defense also posted their second straight shutout.
Heritage lost at Montrose 49-27 earlier in conference play but the Ponderosa win kept them alive for the league championship. They can now create a three-way tie for the top spot with a win this week. The Eagles have won three-in-a-row; scoring 154 points over their that stretch.
Dakota Ridge (8-1) at Golden (7-2)
The Eagles lock up the Jeffco title with a win and likely secure a top two seed when the playoff bracket is announced on Sunday. They’re 4-0 in the conference and lead Golden and Chatfield by one game in the standings. The Eagles are #2 in RPI. Golden is #13 and is .04 ahead of the 16th spot so they seem to be safely in the bracket. A three-way tie for the top spot is the end result if they get the victory.
Golden is coming off a solid defensive effort in last week’s 10-0 shutout of Bear Creek. They limited the Bears to just 63 yards rushing on 30 attempts. The Bears also managed just 90 yards passing against the tough Demons defense. That group finished with three sacks and forced three turnovers. Cambell Thompson led the unit with nine tackles including one for loss and Travis Poole added eight more.
Dakota Ridge blasted Wheat Ridge 42-3 last week behind 186 yards and two touchdowns passing from Ben Gultig. Nico Capolungo caught four passes with two going for scores. The running game was against without top rusher Sean McNamara but four different runners reached the end zone.
Monarch (4-5), Grand Junction (4-5) and Hinkley (6-3) hold down spots 16 through 18 in RPI this week. All three remain in contention for one of the last few playoff berths. The Coyotes have won two straight against Fort Collins and Silver Creek and they should make it three straight against Greeley Central this week. Grand Junction has dropped four of five but a win over Wheat Ridge keeps them in the running. Hinkley opened 5-0 but then lost their next three before beating Centaurus 41-0 last week. They go to Thornton this week to face the 3-6 Trojans.