This week’s slate of Class 5A football games might be one of the biggest of the season. As the regular season winds down and nears its end, there are still several league races that are in play and a few games this week will have a big impact on those races.
While there are just two games between teams with undefeated league records, there are games throughout each conference that will have a massive impact on RPI and potential playoff seeding when the CHSAANow.com coaches poll is factored in.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY LANCE WENDT
Here is a breakdown of the biggest games across the 5A landscape.
- Cherry Creek at Arapahoe
- Castle View at ThunderRidge
- Arvada West at Pomona
- Far Northeast Warriors at Rangeview
- Fairview at Fossil Ridge
- Legend at Douglas County
After taking down Grandview last week, Cherry Creek faces one last obstacle in its hunt for another Centennial League crown. The Bruins got on the board early against the Wolves as Christian Hammond and Evan Johnson scored rushing touchdowns in the first half. They were able to shift into cruise control and closeout the Wolves with a 21-13 win. It was an important win for the Bruins as it was the only win this season that has been within one score. That should help them should the contest with the Warriors remain tight.
Arapahoe’s best chance to come away with a win is if the defense can keep the game close. The Warriors have totaled 27.5 tackles for loss as a team. From the passing standpoint, Jackson Adams has been great rushing the passer as he has seven sacks to his name. When the quarterbacks have gotten their passes off, Jack Weiler has been opportunistic as he’s grabbed three interceptions.
Castle View is coming off its second loss of the year but can stay in the Douglas County League mix with a win over ThunderRidge. The Sabercats can control the game with a strong rushing attack from Marc Wessbecker (522 yards and seven touchdowns) and Joe Ursetta (544 yards and four touchdowns). They also account for about a turnover a game as they have three interceptions and three fumble recoveries. A loss to ThunderRidge would spell doom for the Sabercats’ slim league championship hopes.
The Grizzlies have only slipped up once this year, back on Sept. 17 when they lost to Arapahoe. Other than that, they have looked like a sound football team and need to get a win this week to remain alive for the league crown. They showed a lot of balance offensively as Seth Fraiser threw for 233 yards while also running for 103. That balance will be crucial to keep the Sabercats off balance and give ThunerRidge an early lead and steady command of the game.
Perhaps one of the most unexpected developments of the year is that two weeks into league play, it’s Arvada West and Pomona sitting atop the Jeffco League. The Panthers started the season a little slow, dropping three of their first five games, but have found their groove two weeks into Jeffco League play. What was especially impressive was the 17-3 win over Ralston Valley last week. Chase Muller set a tough tone, running for 91 yards on 29 carries. Pomona totaled 181 rushing yards and the defense allowed the Mustangs just 129 total yards.
Arvada West had a significant upset of its own a few weeks back when it took down Columbine 24-21. While the Rebels were staying true to their values and sticking to the ground, the Wildcats took to the air as Ethan Cook threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns. After that win, the Wildcats maintained that momentum with a win over Mullen. This will be a massive showdown in the 5A landscape as the winner will be in control of the Jeffco League with two weeks to play.
The Far Northeast Warriors have a prime chance to create some distance in the Metro 2 League standings. They already have a win over Prairie View and they’ll try to hand Rangeview their third league loss of the year. The Warriors will look to maintain the productivity on the ground that has been crucial to their success. Antavius Hughes has over 500 rushing yards on the year and has found the end zone three times. His top performance was in the Warriors’ loss to Cherokee Trail on Sept. 10.
The Raiders will try and counter Far Northeast’s running attack with one of their own. Armani Patterson has 820 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Last week’s loss to Denver East makes the game against Far Northeast all the more important for Rangeview as a loss essentially takes the Raiders out of the Metro 2 League chase and would squash any playoff hopes.
Fairview did a great job of bouncing back from its league opening loss to Legacy and edged out Rocky Mountain 20-14 last week. Freshman quarterback Bekkem Kritza has thrown for 2,203 yards and 15 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Offensively, the Knights have kept a similar pace to what they have traditionally done in recent years but have surrendered 139 points on the defensive side of the ball.
That bodes well for the Sabercats as quarterback Tyler Kubat has thrown for 1,912 yards of his own and matches Kritza with 15 touchdowns. This game is sure to be a shootout and Fossil Ridge needs to grab a win in order to stay head to head with Legacy ahead of their looming showdown on Oct. 29. Defensively, Fossil Ridge has also given up a lot of points but against a pass-happy team like Fairview, the pass rushers will be busy. The team has 24 total sacks with Nathan Hallmark leading with 16, according to MaxPreps.
There could be some havoc when it comes to the South League this week as Douglas County has a big chance to get back in the title picture when it takes on Legend. The Huskies dropped an important clash to Pine Creek last week so a win over Legend would give the Huskies, Eagles and Titans all one loss and all to each other. Douglas County has a balanced offensive attack as AJ Jackson and Tyler Stonebraker have each rushed for over 500 yards while Jackson has also thrown for 1,061 yards. The balance will be needed if the Huskies are going to maintain offensive control and keep a high-powered Legend offense off the field.
That high-powered offense is highlighted by Bryce Vaz and his 119 rushing yards per game. He’s found the end zone 11 times and has opened up the passing game for Colton Warner who has thrown for 1,472 yards and 15 touchdowns. A win over Douglas County this week would all but wrap up the Southern League title for the Titans and put them into the playoffs as the projected No. 3 seed.