4A FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK 3

The Pueblo South football team took Week 2 off, but don’t label the Colts as slackers. Steamrolling can be difficult work, after all.

That’s precisely what the Colts did to their first two opponents in Zero Week and Week 1, throttling those foes by a combined tally of 77-0. As a result, the Colts quickly ascended from the third team receiving votes outside the CHSAANow.com Class 4A preseason poll to No. 3 in the actual poll.

They’ll put that designation on the line this week against a familiar and nearby foe in No. 10 Pueblo West (7 p.m., Friday, Cyclone Stadium). And don’t let the notion that the teams now reside in separate leagues fool you: this is a rivalry matchup to the core.

Pueblo South (2-0) – senior quarterback Zach Cozzolino has tossed seven touchdown passes in the opening two games – will be aiming to validate their lofty ranking while also attempting to avenge a 27-12 home loss to the Cyclones last season. With Cozzolino and running back Steve Brock (370 yards) in the fold, the Colts have been able to move the ball with ease so far. Thomas Pannuzino has already hauled in five TD receptions. But it’s been the Colts’ lights-out defense that has been the most impressive in the early going.

The degree of difficulty will be ratcheted up against a Pueblo West squad that has already squared off against two in-town foes – Pueblo County and Pueblo East – and won handily. The Cyclones (2-0) have gotten monster production from their backs, as Devyn Morgan has rushed for 356 yards and Pierre Taylor another 211. Quarterback Connor Farnworth has been deadly accurate, having completed 19 of 23 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown.

Add it all up and this one not only is the game to watch in Pueblo this week, but in 4A overall. However, it’s not the only matchup to keep tabs on, and here is a look at some of the other key battles:

 

Montrose at Grand Junction (7 p.m., Thursday)

It’s a bit early to start talking “must games,” but this one certainly feels that way for Montrose. The Indians can ill-afford a third loss before mid-September, particular another in heartbreaking fashion. Each Montrose loss has been by a single point (to Fruita Monument and Palisade), and the Indians’ win was down to the wire as well against Rifle. Montrose won’t receive any sympathy from Grand Junction (1-1), which will be looking to retool after getting thumped 30-7 by Fruita last week.

 

Greeley West at Fort Collins (6 p.m., Thursday)

The voters haven’t taken extreme notice yet, but Greeley West (2-0) is off to a solid start. The Spartans knocked off 3A No. 1 Longmont last week, getting past the Trojans 34-20 as running backs Derek West and Dorrean West combined for nearly 300 yards on the ground. The Spartans outscored Longmont 20-6 after entering halftime tied. After a gritty win in its opener against Fossil Ridge, Fort Collins endured a rough 45-19 loss to Poudre last week. The Lambkins and sophomore quarterback Hayden Iverson will be aiming to get back on track while Greeley West likely will surge into the Top 10 with a win.

 

Cheyenne Mountain at Widefield (7 p.m., Friday)

You won’t see these teams getting any love in the rankings – at least not yet – but this one is a huge early-season battle. The winner will ascend to 3-0 and will start to receive more than just a passing glance from those outside the program. Cheyenne Mountain exhibits a balanced attack behind quarterback Zach Jones, and the Indians’ defense just recorded a shutout against Sierra. The Widefield D just did the same against Mitchell, and quarterback TJ Davis has tossed four touchdowns without an interception.

 

Windsor at Broomfield (7 pm., Friday)

No matter when these two meet, there’s a good chance it’s a Top 10 matchup. That’s the case once again, but it’s also a rematch of the 4A semifinals from last year, which Broomfield won 25-13 to advance to the title game. The Eagles also defeated Windsor in the regular-season matchup last season, so the Wizards are ready to turn the tables. No. 8 Broomfield (1-1) is coming off its first win of the season, a 28-14 decision against Wheat Ridge, while No. 4 Windsor (1-1) will be looking to retool after a physical 10-0 loss to top-ranked Pine Creek.

 

Dakota Ridge at Vista Ridge (7 p.m., Friday)

After being held to three points by a staunch Windsor defense in the opening week, Vista Ridge got back on track with a 49-point performance Friday against Sand Creek. The Wolves (1-1) racked up 35 points in the first half, and QB Rowan Neal’s nine completions produced 301 yards and five touchdowns. Dakota Ridge’s season has begun similarly, as the Eagles were blanked by Silver Creek in their opener then erupted for 39 points in a win against Pueblo Centennial. Running back Jered Garcia piled up 152 yards and a TD in the latter.

 

Fountain-Fort Carson at Pine Creek (1 p.m., Saturday)

Top-ranked Pine Creek just played a smash-mouth, grind-it-out game in a 10-0 win against Windsor. The Eagles might want to get ready for another. When these teams met in the cross-classification, non-league rivalry last season, 5A Fountain-Fort Carson edged Pine Creek 10-7. The Eagles haven’t lost in 13 games since and undoubtedly will be seeking a measure of revenge. Sophomore David Moore has rushed for 282 yards in Pine Creek’s first two games and the Eagles defense has permitted only seven points overall.

Other ranked teams in action this week include No. 2 Ponderosa at Gateway (6:30 p.m., Thursday), No. 5 Chatfield at Wheat Ridge (6 p.m., Thursday), No. 6 Loveland vs. Greeley Central (7 p.m., Friday), No. 7 Fruita Monument at Palisade (7 p.m., Friday) and No. 9 Monarch at Denver South (7 p.m., Friday).

Of note, Monarch (2-0) jumped back into the rankings by virtue of a 14-7 win against then-No. 9 Rampart. The Rams fell from the poll as a result.

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Paul Willis
About Paul Willis 4 Articles
A newspaper veteran who has covered various levels of high school, college and pro sports, Paul's career has included stops at the Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post and Daily Camera. He currently is a content specialist for LinnellTaylor Marketing and continues to cover sports on a freelance basis.

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