With regular season play winding down this week in all classes but 3A, most of the conference champions have already been crowned. But if you look hard enough, you’ll find some games that still have a bearing on league winners and in a few cases, head-to-head matchups will determine the champion.
League champions earn automatic bids to the playoffs regardless of RPI standing. They are not guaranteed a home game in round one.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY LANCE WENDT
All the league champions have been crowned.
- CENTRAL: Genoa Hugo
- EAST: Stratton
- NORTH: Fleming
- SOUTH CENTRAL: Kim/Branson
- SOUTHEAST: Cheyenne Wells
- SOUTHWEST: Sierra Grande
Probably the most important matchup remaining is in the Ark Valley where Holly and Crowley County collide on Friday. Holly is unbeaten in league play (6-0) with Crowley County (5-1) alone in second so the winner is the league champion and the loser ends up second. In RPI standings updated Sunday morning, Holly was 4th in RPI and safely in regardless of outcome. Crowley County is 14th and will probably get a boost in standing as the game improves their strength of schedule.
Calhan is also heavily favored but they must get by Dolores Huerta Prep to wrap up the Southern title. The Bulldogs are tied with Swink atop the Southern conference but won the head-to-head matchup so a win this week gives them the championship. They are 8th in RPI with Swink 11th.
One team to keep an eye on RPI wise is Byers. The Bulldogs are the Central league champion but are only 18th in RPI. As mentioned, they will get a spot in the bracket regardless of their final standing but they could bump the 16th place team in RPI when the pairings are released next weekend.
The other league races are decided:
- CENTRAL: Byers
- MOUNTAIN: Mancos
- NORTHWEST: Vail Christian
- PLAINS: Haxtun
Four games can be found on the final week schedule that will impact league championship races.
The first is the Foothills where Platte Canyon meets Manual. The Huskies took over first place by beating Bennett by one game last week but the Thunderbolts are tied with Bennett in second one game back. Platte Canyon is the champion with a win while Manual creates a three-way tie as Bennett is expected to get by Sheridan. RPI wise, Bennett is 18th, Platte Canyon is 23rd and Manual 26th so only the league champion will likely earn a playoff berth.
In the Northern, Strasburg must beat Flatirons Academy to officially clinch the league crown. Flatirons Academy is tied for second with Highland so a Bison upset creates a three-way tie between the three clubs. Highland (6-3) has finished their regular season. Strasburg is 8th in RPI, Highland is 11th and Flatirons Academy 17th so at least two and maybe all three will get into the bracket.
Centauri and Monte Vista meet again for the Southern Peaks championship. Both are unbeaten in league action so the winner is the champion and the loser ends up second. Centauri is #1 in RPI and Monte Vista is 12th.
In the West, Meeker has clinched the championship but the conference gets two automatic bids and Friday’s game between North Fork and Gunnison will get that spot. Both have just one league loss to Meeker.
Other champions have been determined.
- NORTH CENTRAL: Limon
- SANTA FE: Peyton
- TRI PEAKS: Buena Vista
Only one league has not crowned a champion and that’s the Colorado. That trophy will be handed out on Friday as Elizabeth meets Kent Denver. Both are 3-0 in the conference. Elizabeth is 10th in RPI and Kent Denver 15th so the Sun Devils may need a win to secure their spot in the bracket.
- FLATIRONS: Northfield
- PATRIOT EAST: Brush
- PATRIOT WEST: Eaton
- SOUTHWEST: Bayfield
- TRI PEAKS: Classical Academy
- WESTERN SLOPE: Delta
Two weeks remain the regular season so many races won’t be decided this week.
- CENTRAL WEST: Palisade (3-0) is alone in first by one game over Summit and Steamboat Springs (both 2-1). The Bulldogs, over the past two weeks, have beaten both the Tigers and Sailors so they can clinch by beating Glenwood Springs on Friday.
- DENVER PREP: Thomas Jefferson (3-0) took over the lead by beating George Washington. The Patriots (2-1) are tied with Denver North and Riverdale Ridge in second. TJ meets North this week and Riverdale Ridge this week. They can only clinch with a win if Riverdale is shocked by winless Lincoln
- NORTH CENTRAL 1: Green Mountain and Lutheran (both 3-0) share the lead and don’t play until the final week so neither team can clinch this week
- NORTH CENTRAL 2: Mead (2-0) leads the division by one game over Holy Family and Frederick. They beat Holy Family last week and faces Frederick in the final week. They only wrap it up this week by beating Thompson Valley if Frederick also loses to Mountain View (2-6).
- NORTH CENTRAL 3: Roosevelt (2-0) is in good shape as they lead Fort Morgan, Northridge and Niwot by one game. They’ve beaten the first two so a win over Niwot this week gives them the championship.
- SOUTHERN 1: Durango (3-0) leads Harrison and Discovery Canyon by one game. They’ve beaten both so a win over Mitchell this Saturday gives them the crown. Mitchell did not play in last week’s schedule game with Discovery Canyon.
- SOUTHERN 2: Pueblo South (3-0) is alone in first after beating Pueblo East in the Cannon Game. East fell into a second place tie with Pueblo County. South faces Central this week and can’t clinch unless winless Pueblo Centennial also upsets County.
League championships are still undecided in three of the seven conferences.
Cheyenne Mountain has a big game with Widefield inside the I-25. Only the the champion earns a playoff berth and the Red-Tailed Hawks get it with a win. A Widefield win creates a three-way tie between the two and Falcon provided the Falcons also get by Thornton.
In the Metro 1, Dakota Ridge (4-0) is alone in first and is the champion with a win over Chatfield. The Chargers are tied with Bear Creek (3-1) in second place. Bear Creek also has a tough challenge with Golden. Should Golden win that game, then the Dakota Ridge-Chatfield winner is the league champion. If Bear Creek and Chatfield both win, the end result if a three way tie. All four clubs are playoff bound as Chatfield is 5th RPI, Dakota Ridge 6th and Bear Creek-Golden 11th and 12th.
The same scenario is found in the Metro 2 where Denver South (4-0) has the outright lead and clinches the title by beating Vista Peak. The Bison though are just one game and a win puts those two tied for first with Aurora Central if the Trojans also beat Centaurus, which is not a given. Should Centaurus get that win, then the South-Vista Peak winner is league champion. Denver South is 14th in RPI, Aurora Central 22nd and Vista Peak 24th.
The remaining league winners are below.
- NORTHERN 1: Erie
- NORTHERN 2: Loveland
- SOUTHERN 1: Montrose
- SOUTHERN 2: Fountain Fort Carson
Four titles will be decided this week and the scenario in one could change in mid-week. That’s the Metro 2 chase and with only the league champion earning a playoff bid, each little detail can matter quite a bit.
Right now, we have the league standings as Far Northeast and Overland sharing first place at 3-1. But we’ve given Far Northeast a win over Prairie View from a game suspended in the fourth quarter from earlier this season. That game will be resumed on Wednesday so the outcome could change. The standings of course stay the same if Far Northeast can hold on to their 14-7 lead. If Prairie View rallies for a fourth quarter win, then the Thunderhawks move into a first place with Overland as both clubs are then 3-1.
If Far Northeast wins on Wednesday, then they clinch the league title later in the week by beating Denver East. A loss there gives the championship to Overland if the Blazers get by winless Hinkley as expected.
Overland becomes the favorite if Prairie View wins on Wednesday. They have the tiebreaker over the Thunderhawks so a win over Hinkley gives the Blazers the championship.
Prairie View only gets the bid with wins over Far Northeast on Wednesday and Rangeview on Saturday.
In the Centennial, Arapahoe (4-0) is the champion by beating Grandview on Friday. The Wolves are tied for second with Cherry Creek and they create a three-way tie for the conference lead by beating Arapahoe. Cherry Creek meets Smoky Hill this week.
In the Douglas County chase, Valor Christian and ThundeRidge meet this week. Both are 4-0 in the conference so the winner is the champion.
And over in the North, Legacy (4-0) is alone in first by one game over Fossil Ridge and Fairview (both 3-1). The Lightning downed Fairview 38-8 earlier this year but must still beat Fossil Ridge this week to clinch. Fairview closes with Horizon.
Other league champions are below.
- JEFFCO: Pomona
- METRO 1: Fort Collins
- SOUTH: Legend