The opening slate of league play went pretty much as expected last weekend, with the top squads in Class 5A handling their business.
Well, business is about to pick up this week, with a pair of top-10 battles on deck. Fifth-ranked Ralston Valley visits undefeated No. 2 Columbine at 7 p.m. on Friday at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood. While the Mustangs have already played four teams currently ranked in the 5A Top 10 this season, this will be the biggest test of the season to date for the Rebels.
Another top-10 matchup pits No. 6 Regis Jesuit against No. 8 Pine Creek on Saturday. Both teams won their league openers as well.
(1) Cherry Creek at Smoky Hill
Top-ranked Cherry Creek kicked off league play in style, taking down Cherokee Trail 34-7 last Thursday in Aurora. Jordan Herron rushed for 109 yards and two scores and also added two catches for 44 yards and another score. Logan Brantley intercepted two passes for the Bruins.
Smoky Hill drooped its third in a row as Arapahoe took a 37-22 victory over the Buffs.
(5) Ralston Valley at (2) Columbine
One year ago, these two teams finished tied for third in the league standings, with the Mustangs defeating Columbine during the regular season. It isn’t shaping up that way this fall though. The Rebels have been a force to be reckoned with in 2022, racing past each of their six previous opponents. Columbine took down Pomona 50-21 last Thursday, setting a season-high for points scored. Senior Marquane Taylor had his way with the Panthers’ defense, tallying 214 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, and Josh Snyder went for 181 yards and two more scores.
Ralston Valley bounced back from a four-point loss to Valor Christian to roll past Lakewood 41-6. Senior Diano Benallo rushed for 114 yards and three touchdowns and James Wochner had two carries, both of which went for scores. As a team, the Mustangs averaged more than 14 yards a carry on the ground.
Highlands Ranch at (3) Valor Christian
An in-town rivalry resumes Friday night as Valor Christian hosts Highlands Ranch. The Eagles picked up a second consecutive victory last week, dominating Castle View 45-17 after racing to a 35-point lead by halftime. Asher Weiner tossed three touchdown passes, two of which went to Jake Krekeler, and the Valor defense allowed Castle View to average only 1.2 yards a gain on the ground while racking up four sacks.
The Falcons are coming off a 31-7 setback to undefeated Rock Canyon.
(4) Grandview at Arapahoe (Thursday)
It’s a short week for the Wolves, who will play for the second time in six days with a Thursday contest against Arapahoe. Matched up against an unbeaten Eaglecrest team last Saturday, Grandview used a strong first half to hold off the Raptors 34-23. Donovan Vernon rumbled for 233 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Liam Szarka added a pair of rushing scores for Grandview.
Arapahoe snapped a three-game losing streak – each of which came to ranked opponents – with a 37-22 victory over Smoky Hill.
(6) Regis Jesuit at (8) Pine Creek (Saturday)
Regis Jesuit righted the ship last week after having dropped three out of four. The Raiders rode a big second half to a 42-7 victory over Douglas County. The Huskies managed only 166 yards against the Regis Jesuit defense, and the Raiders scored four touchdowns over the final two quarters.
Pine Creek also went on the defensive, shutting out Fountain-Fort Carson 14-0 in its league opener. Mason Miller topped 100 yards rushing and scored a touchdown, and the Eagles had three interceptions and recovered a fumble.
(7) ThunderRidge at Castle View (Thursday)
Maintaining its perfect record didn’t come easy last week, but ThunderRidge scored a touchdown in the second overtime to survive an upset bid by Mountain Vista, taking a 34-31 victory. Cole Hanchett and Will Fisher each scored a pair of touchdowns, and quarterback Cooper Kier threw for 185 yards and a score and rushed for 92 more yards. The Grizzlies recorded 5.5 sacks, with 2½ of those coming from Caleb Keith. Aiden Olshan had 16 total tackles, a sack and an interception.
Castle View lost its fifth consecutive game, falling 45-17 to Valor Christian.
(9) Rock Canyon at Mountain Vista
While a showdown with Valor Christian awaits Oct. 15, the Jaguars can’t look past a good Mountain Vista squad Friday night. Rock Canyon ran its record to 6-0 with a 31-7 victory over Highlands Ranch in the league opener. Aidan Duda rushed for 115 yards and three touchdowns, and Dean Chisolm added 92 and another score. The Falcons managed only 117 yards of total offense against Rock Canyon.
Mountain Vista took ThunderRidge to two overtimes before falling a 34-31 heartbreaker last Friday.
Prairie View at (10) Legacy
Make it four victories in a row for the Lightning, which downed Rangeview 35-14 last Thursday. Quarterback Kullen Lerma tossed three touchdown passes and led Legacy with 84 yards rushing and another score. Will Thurston hauled in two of Lerma’s passing TDs.
Prairie View saw its two-game winning streak snapped in a 34-14 loss to Brighton.