With the midway point of the league season approaching, some programs are about to enter the make it-or-break it portion of the schedule.

Valor Christian, currently ranked second in Class 5A by CHSAANow.com, is one of those teams. The Eagles have won three in a row and are tied for the lead in League 5, but a tough close to the season awaits.

It starts Saturday with ninth-ranked Rock Canyon hosting Valor. The Jaguars are coming off their first loss of the season, a 40-36 shootout loss to Mountain Vista. The Golden Eagles’ only league loss came in overtime to sixth-ranked ThunderRidge on Sept. 30, and the Grizzlies host Valor Christian Oct. 21 before closing with Rock Canyon. Valor Christian still has Mountain Vista on the schedule to close the regular season.

It’s safe to say the stretch run is about to begin in earnest.


Eaglecrest at (1) Cherry Creek

Cherry Creek is still unbeaten in the state of Colorado after posting its first shutout of the season, a 43-0 romp over Smoky Hill. Freshman quarterback Brady Vodicka threw for 183 yards and three touchdowns, all of which went to Ismael Cisse (five catches for 116 yards). The Bruins still have Arapahoe and Grandview remaining on the schedule after facing Eaglecrest.

A one-loss Raptors team bounced back from a loss to Grandview by shutting out Cherokee Trail 30-0 behind 223 yards rushing from Diego Cearns.

(2) Valor Christian at (9) Rock Canyon (Saturday)

Valor Christian has gotten off to a strong start in league play with back-to-back 45-17 victories. The most recent came last weekend over Highlands Ranch, with Asher Weiner throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for two more TDs. Weiner had 253 yards of total offense.

Rock Canyon gave up 26 fourth-quarter points to Mountain Vista last Friday in a 40-36 loss. Vista quarterback Austin Modrzewski tossed six touchdown passes in the victory, going 27-of-42 for 460 yards. Rock Canyon rushed for 298 yards in the loss, with Aidan Duda going for 139 yards and a score and quarterback Luke Wennogle adding 91 yards and two scores.

(3) Ralston Valley at Pomona

Last week may have been a break-through game for a Ralston Valley team that had two top-10 wins already on its schedule (Regis Jesuit and Grandview) but hadn’t been able to get past perennial powerhouses Cherry Creek and Valor Christian. The Mustangs gained a leg up in the Jeffco League with a 16-13 over previously undefeated Columbine thanks to a touchdown pass from Logan Madden and a rushing score from Diano Benallo. The Ralston Valley defense limited the Rebels to a season-low 13 points.

Pomona dropped its sixth consecutive game with a 45-17 loss to Chatfield.

(4) Columbine at Arvada West (Thursday)

Columbine saw its league title hopes take a hit with the loss to Ralston Valley, but the Rebels will look to get back on track against the Wildcats on Thursday. Marquane Taylor paced a 272-yard rushing performance against the Mustangs with 142 yards and a score. Thursday’s matchup marks the chance for Columbine to gain a measure of revenge against Arvada West after a mid-season loss in 2021.

A-West snapped a three-game losing streak with a 47-16 rout of Lakewood.

(5) Regis Jesuit at Chaparral (Thursday)

Regis Jesuit continues to push forward in League 6, notching another league win by taking down No. 8 Pine Creek 28-7 behind two touchdown passes from Exander Carroll and rushing scores from Adin Chase and Albert Medina. Hayden Moore had 14 total tackles, a sack and an interception for the Raiders.

Chaparral snapped a six-game losing streak, picking up its first victory of the season by defeating Douglas County 44-31 last Friday.

Highlands Ranch at (6) ThunderRidge

ThunderRidge continued its winning ways last Thursday, rolling past Castle View 35-6 to remain unbeaten through seven games. One week after Mountain Vista took the Grizzlies to overtime, ThunderRidge got a big night from quarterback Cooper Kiel, who was 20-for-28 passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Richard Okuno hauled in 10 catches for 139 yards and a score, and Aiden Olshan recorded 14 total tackles – five of which went for a loss. The Grizzlies host No. 2 Valor Christian next Friday.

Speaking of Valor, the Eagles took down Highlands Ranch 45-17.

Smoky Hill at (7) Grandview

A slow start proved too much for Grandview to overcome, as the Wolves’ second-half rally fell short in a 28-21 loss to Arapahoe. The Wolves fell behind 28-0 at halftime before three second-half touchdowns made it close. Liam Szarka passed for a touchdown and rushed for another, but Arapahoe quarterback Michael Moynihan’s big night (16-of-19 for 185 yards and two TDs) helped make the difference. Grandview is a game back of Arapahoe and Cherry Creek in League 4.

Smoky Hill was shut out by the afore-mentioned Bruins 43-0 last weekend.

Legend at (8) Pine Creek

Pine Creek dropped its second game of the season – both against top-10 opponents – with its 28-7 loss to Regis Jesuit. The Eagles didn’t get on the board until the fourth quarter on a touchdown run from Mason Miller, who had 101 yards.

The going won’t be any easier against a Legend team that has scored at least 41 points in each of its five victories this season, including last Friday’s 43-24 triumph over Fountain-Fort Carson.

(10) Legacy at Mullen

With five consecutive victories under its belt, 10th-ranked Legacy faces its toughest challenge in League 2 on Friday when it travels to play Mullen. The Lightning is coming of a 40-7 victory over Prairie View, with Legacy scoring all of its points in the first half. Sophomore Tyler Anderson rushed for four touchdowns, and Tyler Madden was 10-of-10 passing for 218 yards and a score.

Mullen has won three of its past four games after getting off to a slow start. The Mustangs took down Brighton 54-22 last Friday behind a five-touchdown showing from quarterback Ben Krza.