League overview Gilpin County departs the Northwest League to cut the number of teams down to six. Vail Christian was the only team to advance to the postseason and it is likely to repeat that accomplishment. If either Rangely, Hayden or West Grand can make improvements on their seasons, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see at least one more Northwest team make its way onto the state bracket come November.



Head coach:

Matt Linsacum

2021 Record: 5-3 (4-2 Northwest)

Returning All-State Players: Cody Hawn (Honorable Mention)

Dropping two of the final three regular season games likely played a role in keeping the Tigers out of the postseason. Brayden Dale should improve on his junior year numbers where he threw for 442 yards and six touchdowns and also ran for 827 yards and 14 touchdowns. Having an all-state lineman in Cody Hawn back won’t hurt either. Sabyn Hager adds stability on defense after leading the team with 78 tackles in 2022. Wes Gioia had a team-high 4.5 sack and will keep the Tigers pass rush effective through the course of the season. Hayden starts its season on the road against Plateau Valley.

Plateau Valley

Head coach:

Brian Bristol

2021 Record: 4-5 (2-4 Northwest)

Returning All-State Players: None

The Cowboys were 2-1 after the first three games of the season but lost four straight to end their playoff hopes. They won the final two games of the year to give them some momentum heading into 2022 but the team is much younger heading into the season. “We graduated a large core of our offense and defense and will be looking to develop young players to fill in some of those spots,” Bristol said. “ Another key factor will be senior leadership. We have four seniors this upcoming season and they will need to be strong leaders for our inexperienced players.” Dalton Crites is among the players who will need to step up. He totaled 692 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last year.


Head coach:

Ryan Wilkie

2021 Record: 5-4 (5-1 Northwest)

Returning All-State Players: None

Rangely put together a solid outing in its league schedule but starting the season 0-3 is what really hurt its playoff chances. With a lot of the offensive production coming from seniors, a crop of less experienced players will have to step into more prominent roles. Marsten Wagner is a prime example of that after totaling 110 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 2021. Kobey Chism established himself as a leader on the defensive side of the ball after leading the team with 85 tackles, grabbing one interception and recovering a fumble. Outside of league opponents, Calhan is the only playoff team on the Panthers schedule.


Head coach:

Casey Hill

2021 Record: 2-6 (1-5 Northwest)

Returning All-State Players: None

New coach Casey Hill is tasked with turning around the Rams fortunes on the football field. Wins over South Park and Gilpin County last year showed that the team has the ability to play sound football, it just needs helping figuring out how to make that success consistent. Hill has some key returners in Bradley Hoskinson, Lucas Koler and Hac Louthan and is stressing the ability to compete on every play as an avenue to find more success on the field. Soroco has Belleview Christian and Gilpin County in the first two games of the year and is looking to get a couple early wins in order to build confidence within the team.

Vail Christian

Head coach:

Tim Pierson

2021 Record: 10-1 (6-0 Northwest)

Returning All-State Players: None

The Saints had passed every test in front of them until they got to the second round of the playoffs. Sanford ended any hopes of an undefeated season and forced Vail Christian to turn its attention to 2022. The good news is dual threat quarterback Taylor Shull is back after throwing for 1,734 yards and 25 touchdowns. He nearly eclipsed the 1,000 rushing yard mark and was just 56 yards shy of getting there. The Saints open the season on the road against Dolores Huerta Prep and will also see Lyons and Front Range Christian in their non-league schedule.

West Grand

Head coach:

Chris Brown

2021 Record: 4-5 (3-3 Northwest)

Returning All-State Players: None

West Grand would say it has been far too long since it has played in a postseason game. The Mustangs last made the state tournament in 2019 and they are looking to end that drought this season. Wyatt Howell returns for his senior year after exploding for 1,146 rushing yards and 333 receiving yards. He scored 19 total touchdowns and should be one of the top players in the league this fall. On top of playing the quarterback position with efficiency, Wyatt Shearer led the team with 72 tackles and recorded a pair of sacks along the way. West Grand opens at home against Gilpin County before hitting the road to face Calhan.