Even without a top 10 matchup this week, our Class 4A preview still includes important games where results will play a role in determining which teams advance to the post-season. Up to 15-16 teams have legitimate thoughts of cracking the 4A bracket but only eight will get in. That means we should see some intense contests over the final month of the regular season.
New polls out this week put Dakota Ridge atop the rankings and the Eagles begin their run at number one against Standley Lake. Both teams are 2-0 but have taken completely different routes to get there. The Gators have totaled just 22 points in wins over Grand Junction (19-13) and Golden (3-0) while the Eagles have exploded for 113 in taking out Grand Junction Central (65-12) and Bear Creek (48-14)
Standley Lake has forced four turnovers this season and may need to create a few more this week. Troy McCarthy, with 22 tackles, tops the Gators defense while Evan Shanks (13) and Logan Thille (10) have combined for 23. That trio helped Standley Lake limit Golden to just 172 total yards in last week’s win.
Charlie Offerdhal has just 10 rushing attempts in two games but still has 123 yards and three TD’s for Dakota Ridge. QB Ben Gultig has 302 yards and four scores passing on just 15 completions. On defense, the Eagles have created eight turnovers with Collin Stuhr the top tackler (10) and Spencer Hardy the leader in sacks (3).
Maybe the toughest test in the top ten involves #4 Ponderosa as they host Fruita Monument. They are two of the four quality teams in the Western Slope; joining Palmer Ridge and Montrose as strong playoff contenders.
Fruita Monument may be playing with more urgency as they’re coming off a frustrating 28-27 double overtime home loss to Montrose last week. A second loss could end their playoff hopes as right now it seems doubtful a 4-2 club will get into the eight team bracket.
The Wildcats are in this position because of last week’s 28-27 double overtime home loss to Montrose. Fruita lost a 14-0 first half lead and then misfired on a potential game winning two point conversion try in the second overtime period. Despite the loss, the Wildcats still managed 225 yards rushing and are averaging 250 a game on the season. On defense, Armony Trujiloo has 17 solo stops in two games and Tanner Jolley has nine. They’ve also produced nine sacks.
Similar pressure may be needed against Ponderosa this week as Mustangs QB Jack Hanenberg is playing at a high level. He’s missed just three passes in two games this year while throwing for 349 yards and three score. Kolton Miller is a big-play threat; averaging 41 yards per catch with one touchdown. Cael Porter, with 153 yards, anchors the ground game.
One concern for Ponderosa could be stopping the run. They allowed 229 yards on the ground in a week one win over Bear Creek and will face a very physical running game from Fruita.
Expect high level quarterback play when city rivals #10 Skyline and Longmont get together on Friday. Skyline’s Chase Silva has been involved in six touchdowns this season with four coming in last week’s win over Greeley West. He passed for two and ran for two more. Longmont’s Keegan Patterson was a remarkable 34 of 38 last week; totaling 444 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 44 yards and four scores.
There are other threats on both sides. Silva has connected seven times with Hayden Robison who has a team best 162 yards receiving. Grayden Bridwell has also added 371 yards rushing. For Longmont, Caleb Johnson caught 14 passes from Patterson last week for 215 yards. Justice Lillie finished with eight catches for 97 yards and a score.
A win gets Skyline one step closer to another playoff berth while the Trojans, due to their week one loss to Brighton, may have to win out to get in the bracket. Skyline won 34-0 last year with Longmont scoring a 42-34 decision in 2018. The rivals did not play the previous two years as Longmont competed in the 3A division.
Defending state champion Pine Creek slipped to third in the rankings this week; mainly because the Eagles haven’t been on the field. They’ve missed the first two weeks due to positive COVID tests in their camp but that downtime is finally over as they meet 5A Chaparral this week. The Wolverines are 0-2 and have yet to score this year. But losses are against top 10 opponents Pomona (35-0) and Regis (42-0). Even with some rust, Pine Creek will be favored.
None of the remaining ranked teams face an opponent with a winning record this week.
#2 Palmer Ridge (2-0) heads to Grand Junction Central (0-2). The Bears should use the game as a final tune-up before a closing schedule that includes Montrose, Fruita Monument and Ponderosa.
#5 Loveland (2-0) has rolled up 100 points and 925 yards rushing in wins over Heritage and Greeley Central. Now the Indians face a Greeley West (0-2) defense that’s given up 113 points in two games.
#6 Montrose (2-0) stays on the Western slope to host Grand Junction (0-2). The Indians have plenty of momentum off last week’s thrilling 28-27 win over Fruita Monument. They must avoid looking ahead to next week’s matchup with Palmer Ridge.
#7 Broomfield (2-0) also has momentum from a quality win over Brighton last week. The Eagles hit the road against Silver Creek (0-2). Cole Lacrue threw for 208 yards and three TDs for Broomfield last week and the Eagles defense held Brighton to just 74 yards rushing on 25 attempts.
#8 Pueblo West (2-0) is favored at Mesa Ridge (0-2). The Cyclones have not given up a point this season; beating Cheyenne Mountain (42-0) and Air Academy (33-0).
#9 Fountain Fort Carson has exploded for 115 points in wins over Coronado (54-0) and Vista Ridge (61-28). Q Jones scored four times in week one and surpassed that with five touchdowns in week two. He also finished with 313 yards rushing on 30 carries. The Trojans host Air Academy (1-1) this week.
There is an important game outside the rankings as unbeatens Windsor and Erie collide. Both clubs are pushing for a top 10 berth and a spot in the playoffs. Friday’s winner will have a shorter trip to get there. Windsor has allowed just 10 points in wins over Greeley Central (51-8) and Heritage (28-2). Erie meantime has scored 106 points in downing Greeley West (52-12) and Silver Creek (54-27).
Hunter Peck and Conner Waite each had 10 tackles and four others had seven as the Wizards held Heritage out of the end zone last week. They earned five sacks from five different players. Jaden Kennis also added two picks. The offense went for 280 yards on the ground including 85 from Kenny Sleeth and 65 from Jaden Thomas.
Erie is averaging nearly 450 yards on the ground with a remarkable 13.4 yards per carry. Mason Veve is at 460 yards and six TD’s already and his average per rush is a whopping 25.6. Freshman QB Blake Barnett is a dual threat with 196 yards rushing and 159 passing.
Two other games could factor into the playoff race at seasons’ end. Brighton (1-1) heads to Heritage (0-2) and Vista Ridge (1-1) is at Rampart (2-0). Both Brighton and Vista Ridge are coming off losses and cannot afford a second early loss. Rampart could use a quality win to boost RPI after getting past Thornton (47-0) and Mesa Ridge (27-6) in their first two games.