Each week of the season, the focus for football fans seems to be on the top 10. And it’s well deserved, as those clubs seem to be the favorites to land an eventual state championship. But each Thursday, Friday and Saturday, there are several contests outside the rankings that will also impact the playoff bracket. We found eight such games this weekend.
Mountain Valley at Cotopaxi: It’s the league opener for both clubs and the winner normally ends up with the Southwest championship. Under postseason guidelines, all league champions earn automatic bids to the bracket so this one is very important in six man.
Jefferson at Flatirons Academy: After strong wins last week, both teams have playoff thoughts this year. And wildcards may be the best route. Flatirons Academy has to battle the likes of Strasburg and Highland in their league race and that’s a tough climb to an automatic bid. A win for Jefferson (1-1) puts them on the list of contenders inside what could be a wide open Foothills race which includes Bennett and Platte Canyon.
Manual at Kent Denver: Manual is also in the Foothills so a road upset of Kent Denver gets them on the same list with Jefferson for the Foothills crown. Kent Denver had a very rare non-playoff year during COVID but is coming off a nice win over D’Evelyn. They will contend with Elizabeth and Englewood for the Colorado league crown but a win gives them a boost to a wildcard invitation.
Mesa Ridge at Pueblo East. The Grizzlies barely missed a 2-0 start as they fell short of top ranked Palmer Ridge by just three points last week. With the expansion of 24 teams in the 4A playoff bracket, they right now seem to be a safe pick to earn a spot but every win boosts their chances. Pueblo East has already played and lost to a pair of 4A teams so this is their third straight game against that division. A loss this week likely puts them in position of needing a league championship to reach the postseason and they’re looped in with Pueblo South.
Conifer at Glenwood Springs. Both clubs are 2-0 but neither is ranked in Class 3A. The winner though will get strong strong consideration in polling next Monday. It’s also an important RPI game because both teams will likely rack up several more wins before the end of the season.
Lewis Palmer at Palmer Ridge: Since the Bears are ranked #1 in Class 4A, it’s hard to call this one off the radar but we list it as it’s a great rivalry between two schools that can basically see other from their own facility. Palmer Ridge has played in four straight state finals so they’re favored. An upset by Lewis Palmer though gets them strongly on the playoff ladder in Class 3A.
Lakewood at Rocky Mountain: Each team is 1-1 through two weeks and since both face strong schedules down the road, getting a win anywhere helps them get closer to the playoffs. Lakewood’s slate is extremely brutal. After this week, they still face Chaparral and Palmer Ridge in non-league play and then must run through rivals Pomona, Columbine, Ralston Valley and Arvada West inside the conference. Those four teams are a combined 8-2 right now. Rocky Mountain has Northglenn and Fort Collins up in the next two weeks so a win in this one could push them to a 4-1 record before league play opens.
Fort Collins at Fossil Ridge: This is a good rivalry as well. The Lambkins have been involved in two of the more exciting games this season. They rallied from 23 points down in week one to stun Legacy 30-29 and then had a late field goal attempt blocked in last week’s wild 35-33 loss to Ponderosa. So now we’re curious about what happens in week three. This is also the first of three straight against in-city rivals as Poudre and Rocky Mountain are next on the slate. Fossil Ridge has also been involved in tight games this year as they’re coming off a tough 33-30 loss to Windsor last week.