Class 4A football teams finally get their conference schedules underway and the opening week is filled with important matchups. Included on the list are top 10 showdowns between Vista Peak-Hinkley and Montrose-Heritage.
Wheat Ridge (4-1) at Chatfield (4-1)
A pair of teams with four-game winning streaks collide for an important league opener in the Jeffco where four teams enter with 4-1 marks. The tougher schedule though belongs to Chatfield as the Chargers are 4th in RPI compared to 16th for Wheat Ridge. Brighton is a common opponent with Chatfield also having the advantage there. They beat the Bulldogs 42-10 while Wheat Ridge fell short 27-0 in the season opener. The Chargers gave up 130 yards rushing and intercepted two passes. The Farmers surrendered 178 yards and three scores on the ground.
Defensively, the Chargers are getting strong play from Colin Simcox (47 tackles), Landon Phalen (46) and Jack Wells (40). Shane Compton is a big play threat as well; forcing four turnovesr through five games.
The defensive group will look to slow down the Wheat Ridge running game anchored by Nick Von Feldt who gained 349 yards through four games. The Farmers also collect over six yards per carry and have scored 15 touchdowns on the ground.
Silver Creek (3-2) at Skyline (3-2)
The teams have identical records but they have different levels of momentum going into the rivalry game. Skyline was 1-2 following losses to Mead and Brighton but wins over Longmont (34-0) and Holy Family (35-34) have gotten them pointed back in the right direction. Silver Creek opened 3-0 to crack the 4A Top 10 but has lost two straight close games to Mountain View (24-21 in 3 overtimes) and Longmont (14-10).
Despite the struggles, Carter Closson continues to play good football; throwing for 843 yards and 10 touchdowns. His top target is Cole Ritters with 25 catches for 299 yards and three scores. The Silver Creek running game though could improve as they’ve been unable to gain more than 86 yards in any of their previous three games.
Skyline is 10th in RPI and can credit a very difficult schedule for their. The Falcons opponents have a winning percentage of .727 which is the highest across Class 4A. Offense is their key. They’re averaging 34 points in three wins but held to a combined 20 points in losses.
Last week, the Falcons beat Holy Family in a crazy game where both teams threw for over 400 yards. QB Chase Silva connected on 18 of 34 attempts for 403 yards; nearly 22 yards per completion. He also tossed four touchdowns. Grayden Bridwell, Austin Robison and Nick Peterson all caught five passes. Bridwell went for 156 yards and two scores; Robison 123 and a score and Peterson 75 and a touchdown.
Monarch (2-3) at Loveland (3-2)
Both clubs enter league action probably playing their best football of the season. Monarch blew past Gateway 32-6 last week; giving head coach Phil Bravo his 300th career win. They also rediscovered their ground game with 350 yards and four touchdowns. It’s the first time all season the Coyotes went above 300 yards in a game after being held below 160 in three of their first four contests.
Loveland has won two straight; beating Windsor and Mountain View. It took some time, but new faces for the defending state champs are settling into place and the Indians great tradition is also coming through. Their running game is up to 239 yards per game with nearly five yards an attempts. QB Zach Ratowsky leads the team with 504 yards and eight TD’s on the ground while Jojo Bork has added 340 with four scores.
Both teams have played and lost to Broomfield but the margins were very similar. Monarch came up short 38-6 and Loveland fell 38-12. Loveland is 13th in RPI with Monarch 23rd.
Heritage (4-1) at Montrose (5-0)
There’s quite a bit riding on this conference opener as both teams are in the top seven of RPI and both are unbeaten against 4A competition. The Eagles are 7th in RPI with a two-point loss to 5A Arapahoe as their only blemish. Their opponents winning percentage is a very good .648 which is fourth highest in 4A.
Montrose sits 3rd in RPI and has also played a strong schedule with opponents winning nearly 57 percent of their games. This will be their first test outside the Western Slope as wins have come against Fruita Monument, Durango, Palisade and both Grand Junction schools.
The Indians has been stout; allowing just 50 points over five games but they did surrender 261 yards and nearly six yards per carry in last week’s 21-14 win over Fruita Monument. Now they face a Heritage offense that has the ability to both run and throw the football.
The Eagles have netted at least 48 points in all four wins. The running game has combined for 812 yards and 15 TD’s and QB Conner Cummiskey has tossed seven touchdowns and thrown for 764 yards.
The game is the first of three big ones in the Metro as Ponderosa (2-3) should also be a factor. Montrose gets both opponents at home out west while Heritage goes to Ponderosa late in the regular season.
Hinkley (5-0) at Vista Peak (5-0)
Both teams are in the discussion for best stories of the 2019 season. They’re 5th and 6th respectively in RPI and Vista Peak is 5-0 for the first time in school history. They’ve never made the playoffs but a win here makes that goal attainable this year. Hinkley last made the playoffs in 2013 and hasn’t won a playoff game since landing the 4A state championship in 1997. A win this week matches their win total of last season (6-4).
Vista Peak opened many eyes with their 48-27 win over then unbeaten Dakota Ridge last week. The Eagles had allowed only 50 points through four games but the Bison tallied 48. Their offense now has 226 points on the season with at least 40 in every game. Hinkley won their first three games by a combined 18 points but has blown past Sand Creek and George Washington by 73 in their last two.
Quarterback is the key position for both clubs. Vista Peak’s Victor Owens rushed for 59 yards and a TD last week against Dakota Ridge. He also tossed five touchdowns on just 13 attempts. He completed 11 for 218 yards and the scores went to five different players.
Xavier Starks paces Hinkley with 430 yards passing and eight touchdowns. He’s gained just 154 yards rushing but has reached the end zone seven times.
The winner steps forward as the top challenger to defending league champion Fruita Monument. The Wildcats are just 2-3 but sit 14th in RPI as well.
Others to Watch
Mountain View (2-3) at Brighton (4-1)
Both teams are trying to end long playoff droughts. The Bulldogs last appeared in 2014 with their last win coming in 1999 against Wasson. Mountain View last qualified in 2011 and their last playoff win came in 2009. They’ve reached the playoffs as a 4A program.
Mountain View’s record is a bit deceiving as four of their five opponents have a winning record. That schedule has kept them in the top 20 of RPI (19th) despite a losing record. Their best win came against Silver Creek in triple overtime two weeks ago.
Brighton is in great shape with the RPI (2nd). Their opponents are winning 68 percent of their games and that’s a big boost to their playoff hopes. Their lone loss is against Chatfield (42-10).
Grand Junction (3-2) at Golden (4-1)
Golden has four straight wins and Grand Junction has had two weeks to prepare so this could be a very good contest. It also factors into the playoff chase as the Demons are 12th in RPI and the Tigers 21st. Golden is trying to land their second post-season berth in three years while GJ has not been there since 2014.
The Tigers want to run the football. They’ve gained 1500 yards in five games with 17 touchdowns. Carson Loveridge (690 yards) and AJ Mariz (595) are the top threats. Golden QB Joey Mancuso has thrown for 730 yards and nine TD’s. His favorite target is Kevin Mulligan with 14 catches and five touchdowns. He’s averaging 24 yards a reception.
Greeley West (3-2) at Longmont (3-2)
Greeley West is 15th in RPI and Longmont 22nd so both teams could use a quality win to begin the second half of the schedule. Longmont finally gets a break from rivalry games as they lost to Skyline 34-0 two weeks ago but bounced back to upend Silver Creek 14-10 last week. West is coming off a rivarly game of their own as they easily moved past Greeley Central 42-14. Their losses are against Arapahoe and Chatfield by a combined seven points.