With the first third of the football season in the books, teams are looking to separate themselves from a pack as the playoff picture begins to clear. That is certainly the case with the Class 5A teams that hover around that 2-1 record.
This week could be the start of the process of jockeying for playoff position or it could be a desperation game to remain in the mix for the teams that will get to participate in the postseason.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY LANCE WENDT
Here is a look at some of the significant 5A games for Week 4 of the season:
- Regis at Smoky Hill
- Ralston Valley at Grandview
- Mountain Vista at Legend
- ThunderRidge at Arapahoe
- Cherry Creek at Arvada West
- Valor Christian at Mullen
Regis Jesuit and Smoky Hill present an interesting matchup as both teams are 2-1 and both losses have come to teams ranked inside the CHSAANow.com coaches poll. Yet, the Buffaloes seem to be light on the respect that the Raiders are getting in early-season votes.
Marvin Jones III has had a great season on the ground for Smoky and is a big reason for that 2-1 start. He has totaled 299 yards and five touchdowns in his three games. Quarterback Tyliq Bowers has only thrown for 284 yards, but he has a favorite target in Troydell Dixon Jr. who has 120 receiving yards and a touchdown.
The Buffaloes haven’t been bad defensively as the team has recorded 47 tackles for loss.
Regis stumbled in its season-opener against Valor but have been solid since that loss. The Raiders scored in bunches against Highlands Ranch then they fought off an underrated Mullen team to improve to 2-1. In that game, Exander Carroll rushed for 127 yards and threw for 229. If he can find his rhythm on Friday, Smoky Hill has a serious challenge ahead.
The game of the week has to be Ralston Valley vs. Grandview as both teams sit high in the CHSAANow rankings. The Wolves are out to a hot start of the year. They edged Pomona then got a good win over Mountain Vista and then shutout Overland.
Chase Dahir and Jonathan Broadus have been steady on the ground, each rushing for at least 139 yards and with Broadus scoring five touchdowns.
But the Wolves’ success has been thanks to the week-to-week improvement of the defense. They’ve allowed just 13 points since their Week 1 win and will try to hold that number against the Mustangs.
Diano Benallo and Zach Friedman have combined for 351 rushing yards and four touchdowns to pace the Ralston Valley offense.
Like the Wolves, the Mustangs are also strong on the defensive side of the ball as they’ve forced eight turnovers, two of them being fumble recoveries by Bubba Harr.
With the teams seemingly evenly matched, the fans packing into Legacy Stadium should be in for a treat come kickoff on Friday.
Mountain Vista rebounded from a tough loss to Grandview and beat Arapahoe last week to improve to 2-1. A win over No. 9 Legend would likely put the Golden Eagles into the top 10, giving them a lot to play for this week.
They have a very balanced rushing attack as four players have at least 100 rushing yards. Junior Kelly Rosel leads the way with 185 yards. He and Dane Dougherty have the team’s only two rushing touchdowns.
Nick Stone has turned into a reliable receiving target as he has hauled in 15 catches for 217 yards and four touchdowns.
The Golden Eagles have the firepower to hang in a game with Legend so the Titans will need to create some distance on the scoreboard if they’re going to come away with a win.
Bryce Vaz is running for 121 yards per game and has scored four touchdowns. He brings an explosive quality to the field that makes Legend a threat to score on any given play.
Coupled with their defensive ability to get after the quarterback and force turnovers, the Titans are a tough team to beat on any given week. Zach Runyon leads the team with three sacks while Logan Braegger has two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
ThunderRidge is a team that everyone has to be paying attention to given their hot start to the year. In three games, the Grizzlies have allowed just one touchdown. That came on a rushing touchdown from Kaden Becker in a big win over Doherty back on Sept. 2.
The Grizzlies have done a fantastic job at tackling a ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage with Ethan Hill accounting for four of them. They set the tone in terms of not letting their opponents score and then Seth Frasier does his work under center.
He has rushed for 271 yards and two touchdowns and thrown for 448 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s found a favorite target in Chase Tompkins who has eight catches for 181 yards and four touchdowns.
Arapahoe is looking to rebound from its first loss of the year and get back in the win column. The Warriors are well-balanced offensively as DJ Montoya has rushed for 297 with Cole Hansen throwing for 575 yards and four touchdowns.
The 27-17 loss to Mountain Vista last week took the Warriors out of the top 10 this week, but a rebound win over ThunderRidge would certainly put them right back in the conversation of the top teams in the state.
Dave Logan returns to the spot where he began his high school coach career when Cherry Creek takes on Arvada West. The Bruins dropped their first game of the year last week, falling 17-7 to Chandler (Ariz.), knocking them down to No. 2 in the CHSAANow poll.
Keegan Holles and Carlson Tann have assumed the bulk of the duties rushing the ball as each have at least 123 yards and they’ve combined for five touchdowns.
Christian Hammond has done his best to step into the role vacated by his older brother Julian. He has completed 61% of his passes for 289 yards and four touchdowns. Blake Purchase is also trying to live up to a family name as he has the team co-lead in sacks with Thomas Fischer. Each have three and are looking for more this week.
Arvada West is going to keep relying on the things they’re doing well to try and get an upset win over Creek. They’ve done a great job at creating turnovers with eight already for the season. Chris Wilcox has been a hawk with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Offensively, the entire team is rushing for 6.5 yards per carry which can be crucial in controlling the clock and keeping Creek’s offense off the field. Ethan Cook has been steady at quarterback, throwing for 440 yards and two touchdowns.
With two lopsided wins and a tight win over Legacy, the Wildcats are certainly battled tested heading into this week and will try to utilize that experience to get a big win for the program.
Perhaps one of the more intriguing matchups this week is Valor Christian taking on Mullen. The Eagles are fresh off a 41-0 win over Eastside Catholic (Wash.) that was broadcast on national TV. By all accounts, they look like a top-two team in the state and they certainly have the horses on the roster to maintain that status.
Gavin Sawchuk ranks third in the state with 507 rushing yards and he has made his way into the end zone six times. Colton Allen has done a good job balancing the rushing attack with 456 passing yards, the bulk of which have gone to Colton Rose and Grant Simmons.
A packed schedule has Mullen sitting at 1-2 and in desperate need for a win. Perhaps desperation is exactly what the Mustangs need to get their second win of the year. They’ve already beaten a top-10 team in Legend so they know that they have the ability to come away on the winning side, they just need to execute on the field.
Senior Kyle Krebs has amassed 382 rushing yards, but has just one touchdown on the season. Sophomore quarterback Blake Palladino has performed about as well as anyone could hope for as he’s completed 52% of his passes for 453 yards and five touchdowns.
This is a game that should be entertaining and could also have major playoff implications in the coming weeks.
CLASS 5A – TOP 10 SCHEDULE
#1 Valor Christian at Mullen
#2 Cherry Creek at Arvada West
#3 Columbine vs Highlands Ranch
#4 Ralston Valley at #5 Grandview
#6 Regis at Smoky Hill
#7 ThunderRidge at Arapahoe
#8 Castle View at Douglas County
#9 Legend vs Mountain Vista
#10 Cherokee Trail vs Overland