5A FOOTBALL SEASON PREVIEW

There’s no doubt about it. Class 5A football is a lot of things. It hovers over the rest of the six classifications like the Rocky Mountains over the Denver-metropolitan area. It’s as predictable as the change in seasons. It’s as fickle as the Colorado weather. And it switches leagues like city drivers with lanes during both morning and late-afternoon rush hours.

Every two years, there’s something new in big-school outlay. Look back over the past couple of decades. Big-school officials wanted traditional leagues to be the same with the other 20 sanctioned sports … then they didn’t. Big-school officials wanted a Centennial League with all of the powers together … then they didn’t. Big-school officials wanted leagues based more on geography … and then they didn’t. Big-school officials wanted a series of leagues that was based on recent performance (i.e., the controversial waterfall that was a flop) … then they didn’t.

So if you don’t like what’s happening, just wait a couple of years. It will change. And keep changing …

The dissatisfaction and indecision also carries over in other areas. In addition to changing the playoff bracket — again — to now include 24 teams instead of 16 (it has been a long story), 5A schools have changed head coaches like high-schoolers jump from app-to-app. Look around — more than half of the 5A programs have switched leaders over the past couple of seasons.

In particular, the 2018 season, which will begin on Thursday, will contain an assortment of prominent names associated with different schools. To name a few, former Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey now leads Valor Christian. The Eagles former leader, Rod Sherman, has moved to Arapahoe as former Warriors lead man Mike Campbell moved to Englewood. Remember Jeff Ketron at Douglas County? He’s now at Chaparral. Plus, Vincent White, one of the greatest student-athletes in Mullen history and a running back in the same Stanford backfield with John Elway, has returned to take over the Mustangs.

And on it goes … the unrest is concerning as Week 1 nears, although actual competition will at least temporarily deflect some of the negative attention.

Below are several games for your viewing pleasure, all nonleague as the new designations — and a lot of its discussion — won’t come into play until Week 6.

Enjoy:

Denver East vs. Columbine, Thursday, 6 p.m., Jefferson County Stadium

Having lost five of its last six games a year ago, Denver East was 2-8. … The Angels also have dropped their past two meetings against Columbine, including 48-28 last season. … Spencer Colter is entering his sixth season leading Denver East and is 23-27. … DB Corey Tate figures to be a player for the Angels. … On the other side, Andy Lowry has led the Rebels for a quarter-century and experienced all of one losing season, in 2014, when they went 4-6. … Columbine has won five state championships since 1999, most recently in 2011. … They were 11-2 a year ago. … The Rebels’ Logan DeArment, who will start at quarterback and double in the secondary, will be one of the most-important players across 5A. He’ll be running Columbine’s vaunted rushing attack and can hurt teams passing.

Cherry Creek vs. Doherty, Thursday, 7 p.m., at Garry Berry Stadium

Most everyone agrees — Cherry Creek is the consensus No.1 team. … The Bruins are 55-20 since Dave Logan took command of the program in 2012. They won a state title in 2014, a thrilling one-point victory over Valor Christian. … Senior QB Alex Padilla, who had 40 TD passes a year ago, has committed to Iowa. … The Bruins also boast OT Michael Lynn, 6-foot-6, 291 pounds (Nebraska) and OLB Alec Pell (Colorado). … There’s a bit of a buzz about the Spartans, potentially a big-school sleeper. … Doherty is 28-12 under Jeff Krumlauf and was 7-3 a year ago, missing the playoffs. … The Spartans remain excited about Alijah Bates (6-8, 235), a T-DE.

Far Northeast vs. Mullen, Friday, 7 p.m., Brother Bernard Kinneavy Field at de La Salle Stadium

From 2013-17, the Warriors had five different coaches. … Far Northeast is based in Montbello and draws from seven schools in the area. … The Warriors were 6-4 a year ago under Tony Lindsay, who came over from Denver South. … Having dropped their past four games to Mullen, the Warriors haven’t met the Mustangs since 2007, when Mullen won 47-15. … The only team on the Far Northeast schedule that had a winning record a year ago is Northglenn (6-5 in 2017). … White has been received with open arms and the Mustangs return a bunch of skill players, notably QBs Dom DePIzzol, a senior, and Kyle Remington, a junior, and senior WR Wind Henderson. There’s also touted junior DL-OL Aidan Keanaaina, who has piled up 13 college offers. … In addition, watch for talented junior WR-DB Isaac White, late of Malvern (Pa.) Prep and the coach’s son.

Fairview vs. Boulder, Friday, 5:30 p.m., Recht Field

It will be the 55th meeting between the two programs with Fairview holding a 34-20 edge in the series that began in 1964. The Knights also have won the past 10 in succession. … Fairview head coach Tom McCartney, now the dean of 5A leaders at one school — he’s in his 26th season with the Knights — is 17-8 against the Panthers. … Junior QB Aidan Atkinson and senior WR Bryce DesJardins should be connecting regularly. … Knights were 10-2 in 2017. … New Panthers coach Ryan Bishop has his work cut out for him — since 2004, Boulder has had only one non-losing season, 5-5 in 2014. … Boulder will be part of the new Metro 10 League, which consists of programs that have struggled at the big-school level. It’s an experiment.

Highlands Ranch vs. Eaglecrest, Friday, 7 p.m., Legacy Stadium

In the ever-rotating coaching carousel, John Trahan, late of Smoky Hill, is in command of Highlands Ranch. Actually, he’s the Falcons’ third head coach over two seasons. … They were 6-5 in 2017. … The two programs have split their past four games, with Eaglecrest winning 24-0 in 2015 in the most-recent gathering. … Austin Johnson, a guard who has committed to CU’s Buffaloes, has helped the Falcons draw some attention. … Eaglecrest also is under new management. Mike Schmitt, after leading the Raptors to a 13-0 mark and into the final against Pomona, has moved to Pennsylvania. Dustin Delaney now heads the Raptors. … Eaglecrest OT Barrett Miller (6-5, 270) is a Stanford commit and in some circles considered as the state’s top recruit. … OG Jake Wiley (6-5, 250) also has pledged, to CU.

Also keep an eye on …

Castle View vs. Fossil Ridge, Thursday, 6 p.m., French Field

The SaberCats will have their debut under new coach Todd Casebier, who was hugely successfully on the western slope, on the road in Fort Collins.

Pomona at Oak Ridge (Fla.), Thursday, 6 p.m., Orlando

The defending state champion Panthers will open with a road trip to Florida.

Fort Collins vs. Rocky Mountain, Friday, 7 p.m., French Field

The 4A Lambkins and 5A Lobos will renew their city rivalry, probably in front of a packed house.

Legacy vs. Broomfield, Friday, 7 p.m., Elizabeth Kennedy Stadium

The 5A Lightning, now headed by Corey Heinz, will meet the 4A Eagles in the Battle of Broomfield.

Valor Christian at Faith Lutheran (Nev.), Friday, 7 p.m., Las Vegas

The Eagles will roll the dice in Vegas in McCaffrey’s coaching debut, a roadie at the host Crusaders.

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