A week after Colorado opened its new look Class 5A playoffs with nine of 24 qualifiers sporting .500 records or worse, the preliminary round did little to shuffle the big-school deck.
Into the second round, only Lakewood, seeded No. 20, and Legacy, the 21st seed, have cracked the favorites’ party.
But now is when the real heavyweights will come into play after earning rest opportunities through byes. And they will mostly have the looks of the old Centennial and Jefferson County leagues as Valor Christian, Columbine, Cherry Creek, Eaglecrest, Grandview, Ralston Valley and Pomona will be joined by Douglas County’s ThunderRidge in the Round of 16.
The second series of elimination play in 2018 will contain everything from first-time matchups to rematches from earlier in the season, and they are labelled below for your viewing pleasure:
(16) Regis Jesuit (7-4) vs. (1) Valor Christian (10-0), Friday, 7 p.m., Valor Christian
Consider the contrast for the visiting Raiders. If there was any doubt about the Metro 10 League – the group for struggling big-school programs — that also had a few of its members question the seeding, qualification and value of having such a group, Regis Jesuit swiftly confirmed it. It crushed the previously undefeated Metro 10 champion, Smoky Hill, 48-14 last week and had a 41-0 halftime lead. Now, it will face the top seed. … Regis Jesuit has won six games in a row after a 1-4 start. … Senior RB Kiahn Martinez also added a punt return for a touchdown last week and Charlie Quinn contributed an interception return for a TD. … First and foremost, remember the following – Valor has allowed only 58 points … in 10 games. … Senior QB Luke McCaffrey, who will be headed to Nebraska’s Cornhuskers, has rushed and thrown for more than 1,900 yards and had a hand in 22 TDs. … Since joining 5A in 2012, the Eagles are a ridiculous 24-2 in the playoffs. … Valor’s top tackler is Ethan Zemla, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound inside linebacker who is getting college looks.
Yes, they’ve already played once this season. In nonleague in Week 3, and the Grizzles won a tight one, 28-24. … The Knights rolled Denver East 31-7 in the prelims. … Indeed, Fairview junior QB Aidan Atkinson, he of the single-season record of 55 TD passes in less than a full regular season, remains out with a thumb injury suffered in Week 10. But sophomore Liam O’Brien threw for 238 yards and a TD last week. … Twenty-one of Bryce DesJardins’ 69 receptions have gone for TDs. … He also took a few snaps under center. … The Grizzlies have earned their most victories since winning 11 in each of the 2012 and 2013 seasons. … Idle the past week, ThunderRidge beat Castle View 24-14 in the final week of the regular season, a round after falling 38-17 to Valor. The Grizzlies were runners-up in the Metro South. … Senior RB Spencer Lambert has piled up 1,919 all-purpose yards. … Senior receiver Scott Ruckel has a team-leading eight TD receptions and is averaging 22.6 yards per grab.
(20) Lakewood (4-7) vs. (4) Eaglecrest (9-1), Friday, 7 p.m., Legacy Stadium
Lakewood knocked off the No. 13 seed, Arapahoe, 31-10 on the road in the prelims. … The Tigers snapped a six-game losing streak that included an 0-5 performance in the Metro West. … They used a 21-point second quarter to break it open. QB Pierce Holley enjoyed a big game, going 25-for-35 for 311 yards and three TDs. Senior Elias Borjas caught two of the scoring throws and junior Keondre Beauty one. Borjas ended with eight receptions for 139 yards. … Lakewood has won seven state championships, the last of which came in 1985. … Eaglecrest, which was the 2017 state runner-up, has lost just once, 14-13 to Cherry Creek in Week 8. … The Raptors actually are on their third coach including the past season and had three over three games. So credit Garrett Looney, who took over in Week 2 and stabilized the situation. It can’t be underestimated. … Tackle Barrett Miller (6-5, 270) has pledged to Stanford and is considered in some circles to be the state’s top senior recruit. And guard Jake Wiley (6-5, 250) has committed to the University of Colorado. … Senior QB Dylan James led 5A in regular-season rushing with 1,743 yards and was fourth in scoring (144 points).
(21) Legacy (5-6) vs. (5) Grandview (9-1), Saturday, 1 p.m., Legacy Stadium
The Lightning took out No. 12 Mullen 33-24 on the road last week. It built a 30-10 halftime, weathered a late move by the Mustangs and looked pretty good doing it. … It was the fifth consecutive victory for Legacy, which lost its first six games under first-year coach Corey Heinz, then rallied to finish second in the Front Range. … TE Jack Smith caught a TD pass last week, his ninth of the season, a single-season team record. … Legacy has scored at least 29 points in each of its past six outings. Go figure. It is 5-1 over the span. … QB Nicholas McCarthy threw for 282 yards and two TDs in the postseason opener. … The Lightning and Wolves have played four times the past 13 years, most recently in September 2017. Grandview has won all four by a combined 137-14. … This is a well-rounded Grandview that used to be mostly known for defense, but has withstood a wave of injuries to date and employs a sophomore QB (Jacob Burr). … Senior RB Jordan Billingsley has been durable (248 carries) as well as productive (1,535 yards, 20 TDs). … Don’t underestimate Week 10’s 28-21 victory in double overtime over previously undefeated Cherry Creek. Burr was 11-of-15 for 163 yards and four TDs, three to Dayne Prim and another to Hayden Isenhart. Billingsley was held to 43 yards, but the Wolves defense held the Bruins to 152 yards of offense. Sophomore Colton Martin and senior Jack Rogers had two tackles for loss.
(15) Highlands Ranch (4-7) vs. (2) Columbine (10-0), Friday, 7 p.m., Jefferson County Stadium
This one’s also a rematch. Columbine smacked the Falcons 41-16 in Week 4 at Shea Stadium. … Highlands Ranch began 1-4, but went 3-2 in the Metro South. Interestingly, their two league losses were by 18-13 to ThunderRidge to open the Metro South and they capped league play with a 25-15 setback to Valor. … Highlands Ranch offensive lineman Austin Johnson has committed to CU. … In the first meeting with Columbine, the Falcons, under first-year coach John Trahan, were hit for 467 yards of offense, 351 rushing. … Sophomore QB Jake Rubley has thrown for 19 TDs. … Six different Falcons have rushed for triple figures, topped by Kole Lundquist’s 776. He and Rubley also head the team with five rushing TDs. … It’s hard to argue with what the Rebels accomplished over the regular season. The won the Metro West and despite being idle the past week stand second in points (400) and fourth in points allowed (133). … Columbine defeated not one, but two out-of-state foes – University of Orange City, Fla., by 27-13 in Week 2 and Olathe North of Kansas to close out nonleague. … Senior DT Cole Parrott has some 20 tackles for loss. … Senior QB Logan DeArment remains the Rebels leader on offense, although backfield mates and junior Adam Harrington and Tanner Hollens have combined for 2,055 yards rushing and 28 TDs.
(10) Arvada West (7-4) vs. (7) Pomona (6-4), Saturday, noon, North Area Athletic Conference
Yes, it’s another rematch. Pomona beat the Wildcats 41-27 in the second week of league play, in the Metro West. … It’s also another matchup of Jefferson County District rivals. … The Panthers have won eight of the past the past 13 head-to-head meetings. … A-West Sr. QB Johnny Krutsch, the program’s all-time passing leader, is up to 3,286 yards this season along with 31 TD tosses and nine interceptions. … Senior Chris McEahern has 82 catches for 1,366 yards and 14 TDs. … The Wildcats are still looking for their first victory of the season against a 5A team with a winning record. … Pomona, the defending state champion, has made the past three finals and won 13 of its past 14 playoff games. … If any team needed a bye, it was the Panthers, who had six key starters miss assorted time down the stretch. They had more than one player hobbling around wearing boots. … Unusually, Pomona enters the playoffs having lost it past two games – 35-13 to Columbine and 38-26 to Ralston Valley. … Senior WR Billy Pospisil, aa Washington State commit, hasn’t played since Oct. 12. … Senior Dominic Bettini, one of the few Panthers who has managed to stay healthy, tops the team with 789 yards rushing and 14 TDs.
(14) Castle View (8-3) vs. (3) Cherry Creek (9-1), Friday, 7 p.m., Stutler Bowl
Hey, it’s a first-ever meeting between the two. … Castle View won its first 5A playoff game last week, 35-20 over visiting Fountain-Fort Carson. The SaberCats moved up from 4A in 2012. … They piled up 320 yards rushing last week, topped by the 101 by Jordan Jackson and the 97 by Zane Wodark. … Jackson rushed for two TDs, Cole Oster also had two and Josh Mullenix one. … Castle View also is seeking its first victory of the season over a big-school team in state with a winning record. The SaberCats did handle Wasatch of Heber City, Utah, 36-35 in Week 3. The Wasps (great mascot) ended their season at 6-5. … Cherry Creek has won nine state titles since 1982, most recently in 2014, when the Bruins beat Valor in a classic, 25-24. … The Bruins came thisclose to an undefeated regular season, falling last week to Grandview 28-21 in two overtimes. … The talent for Cherry Creek is real. Tackle Michael Lynn has committed to Nebraska. QB Alx Padilla had pledged to Iowa. And OLB Alec Pell has agreed to attend CU. … Padilla has thrown for 20 TDs and just the one interception. … Thirteen Buirns have bene credited with a rushing attempt.
(11) Cherokee Trail (8-3) vs. (6) Ralston Valley (8-2), Thursday, 7 p.m., NAAC
Cherokee Trail has assured itself of a winning record. The Cougars were coming off four consecutive losing seasons after having posted winning records in nine straight years, from 2005-13. … Cherokee Trail has beaten Ralston Valley in three of their past four meetings since 2009, most recently 17-10 in 2012. … The Cougars needed two OTs to get past visiting Poudre of Fort Collins 37-31 in the prelims. … CT led 17-3 at halftime and 24-10 with 9:30 to play in regulation. … The Cougars managed to come up with five turnovers, two of them interceptions by Matty Bartels, one returned 70 yards for a TD, the other a lunging effort in the end zone to end the game. … Ralston Valley may have created some doubts when it fell 21-17 to 4A Loveland in Week 4, but won five of its next six games, losing only to undefeated Columbine and handling Pomona in the regular-season finale. … Junior QN Walker Brickle has thrown for 15 TDs and just one interception. … Earlier this season, head coach Matt Loyd won his 200th game (he also coached at Golden). … Everyone into the pool – 14 Mustangs have attempted a rush and 18 have caught a pass.