Each game is starting to matter more than the next. The football teams in Class 5A got their leagues seasons rolling last week and from now until the end of the regular season in late October, each becomes more meaningful from a league standings perspective as well as the shaping of the 5A state playoff bracket.


This week we’ll take a look at key games across every league as the battle for playoff positioning is in full effect throughout the entire state.

  • Pomona at Ralston Valley
  • Overland at Far Northeast Warriors
  • Grandview at Cherry Creek
  • Boulder at Fort Collins
  • Valor Christian at Castle View
  • Regis Jesuit at Legend

Thursday night actually provides a big slate of games as it pertains to league outlooks. Starting in the Jeffco League, Pomona has a chance to completely wipe away its slow start of the season if it can grab a win against Ralston Valley. It almost felt as though Pomona took the loss to Smoky Hill somewhat personally. Defensive havoc was the theme in the Jeffco opener against Lakewood. The Panthers picked off quarterback Nico Mancha and forced another turnover on a fumble recovery. They recorded three sacks and just never let the Tigers get comfortable. That will likely be their approach against Ralston Valley.

The Mustangs have been one of the best overall teams in the state all season. Their 24-13 win over Grandview on Sept. 17 has been their only win against a Colorado team that has been within two scores. Zach Friedman has thrown for 706 yards and six touchdowns to go with his 245 rushing yards. The Panthers will try to put him under duress for the majority of the game to come away with what many people would classify as an upset.

The Far Northeast Warriors are trying to capitalize on the momentum of their Season C championship and play their way into the fall playoffs. A league title is the only way to go for them coming out of the Metro 2 league and they got started with a 14-7 win over Prairie View last week. A win against Overland this week can put them in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the year. This season, they’ve been very balanced as Antavius Hughes has rushed for about 74 yards per game and Andy Martinez has thrown for over 100 yards per game.

Through the first four games of the season, the Trailblazers had put together some standout defensive performances on the field. Damaris Davis, Brett Stonebreaker and Quincey Humphrey each recorded two sacks and Davis built the early team lead in tackles with 20 through those first four games. Facing a balanced offense this week, Overland will likely lean on its defense to slow down the Warriors and try and move to 2-0 in the league.

It sounds bold, but the Centennial League championship could be decided on Friday when Grandview rolls over to the Stutler Bowl to take on Cherry Creek. The Wolves have lost just one game this year and that was a 24-13 defeat to Ralston Valley. The Wolves have been solid both on the ground and through the air and are led by Moosah Alsaffar. Last Thursday he ran for 83 yards and a touchdown as the Wolves beat Smoky Hill 23-6. He’ll be essential in slowing down the game and keeping the Cherry Creek offense off the field for as long as possible.

The only problem with that plan is that it keeps the Cherry Creek defense on the field. The Bruins have 14 tackles for loss and aren’t afraid of bringing pressure with the front seven as they also have 14 sacks on the year. Blake Purchase leads the way with six which have resulted in 38 yards being lost.

The Metro 1 League championship picture will clear up a bit this week as Fort Collins takes on Boulder in a battle of two teams that felt re-energized by solid Season C runs. The Lambkins found themselves in some tight games early in the year before opening league play with a 56-32 win over Westminster last Friday. Max Jones set the tone with 135 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns and will aim to repeat that performance against the Panthers. The Lambkins would also benefit from a turnover or two and forced four last week (three interceptions, one fumble recovery) against the Wolves.

Boulder hasn’t had the early season success that Fort Collins found, but in the league opener against Adams City, the Panthers gave a glimpse of what they can do for the final few weeks of the season. Declan Culberson broke out for 195 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers also forced four turnovers making the game a battle of who will take care of the ball most effectively. Defensively, the Panthers need to lock down the run a bit better as they allowed 277 yards on the ground last week.

Valor Christian can establish itself as the top team in the Douglas County League if they can get a win over Castle View. Gavin Sawchuk ran for 110 yards and scored four touchdowns in last week’s win over Mountain Vista. The Eagles led by just a point after the first quarter before the offense found its groove and closed the game on a 42-0 run.

Castle View will have to find a way to slow down Sawchuk and the rest of the Eagles’ offense. Valor has allowed more than seven points to just one opponent this year and that was Columbine. That task will fall on the linebacking core and Brody Ashworth will have to lead the way. He leads the team with 11.5 tackles per game.

This will be a pivotal week in the Southern League as Regis Jesuit and Legend clash, likely for the league championship. The Titans held off a tough Pine Creek squad last week thanks to another solid performance from senior running back Bryce Vaz. He went for 91 yards and two touchdowns against an Eagles team that has not been keen on allowing a lot of offensive productivity this year. The Titans have been able to make plays on both sides of the ball as they’ve forced 14 turnovers this year and will try to snatch the ball away from Regis at every opportunity.

That task might be easier said than done, however. Exander Carroll has yet to throw a pick this season, although he has lost two fumbles. The Raiders have over 1,110 rushing yards and over 1,000 passing yards so far this season. The only games in which they’ve struggled to score points were against Valor Christian and Regis Jesuit, the top two teams in the CHSAANow.com 5A coaches poll. They got their first league win of the year by beating Chaparral 56-14. With Douglas County set to face Pine Creek, there could be some separation in the standings depending for either Regis or Legend.

The North League has all three 1-0 teams taking on the three 0-1 teams in the conference. While things could get interesting depending on the results, it will be next week when Legend takes on Rocky Mountain that there could some teams separating