It’s quite easy to look at the top three or four teams of the Class 4A football landscape and try to pick a future state champion out of the bunch.

But don’t overlook what’s happening in the Denver city limits. Thomas Jefferson was just outside the cutline for the 4A football playoff field last year and the No. 5 Spartans are leaving nothing to chance in 2023. They rolled to a 48-10 win over Liberty on Thursday night, but the early stages of the game provided an indication as to why they shouldn’t taken lightly as a contender this season.

Dimitri Haralambopoulos and Jake Tapia each rushed for touchdowns early in the first half which set the tone and allowed TJ to get out of District 20 Stadium with its perfect record intact.

The defense was stingy and the offense put on a full display of its versatility in the win.

“Our offense has seven weapons that can just light it up,” tight end Jake Scobey said after the game. “What happened tonight is they’d key one of us and the rest just went off.”

The win sets up an intriguing matchup next week with Ponderosa. The Mustangs have bounced back from a three-game losing streak earlier in the year are playing the style of football that coach Jaron Cohen is used to seeing on a weekly basis.

The showdown between TJ and Ponderosa will be one of the more anticipated games on next week’s schedule.


Berthoud is for real

Much like TJ in 4A, No. 3 Berthoud seemingly came out of nowhere in 2023. The 2A Spartans have a signature win to their name already when they beat Thompson Valley back on Sept. 8.

But Thursday, they may have truly gotten everyone’s attention with a 34-7 win over three-time defending state champion Eaton. The Reds have certainly taken a step back, but at no point this season has anyone thought they aren’t a good team.

That makes Berthoud’s dominant performance all the more impressive. Per the Loveland Reporter-Herald’s Nathan Wright, Alex Larson had himself a night by rushing for 240 yards and three touchdowns. As a whole, Berthoud ran for 442 yards and five touchdowns.

That’s a style of play that will be successful when the 2A postseason begins next month.


Holy Family grabs another big win

Fresh off what many considered an upset win over Lutheran, 3A No. 2 Holy Family rose to the occasion once again. The Tigers were locked in a 9-9 tie in the fourth quarter before showing some grit and getting a 23-9 win over No. 7 Northfield.

They took the lead on a Rylan Cooney touchdown pass to Monte Samaras with 7:39 left on the clock.

Having now navigated the toughest two-game stretch of their league schedule, the 3A Metro Northeast crown is now theirs for the taking over the final three weeks of the season.

Planting playoff seeds

As the regular season for all classifications reaches the final few weeks, more attention is being paid to the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index.

For each playoff bracket, there are bubble teams that are looking for crucial wins in Week 8.

Class 5A:

  • (15) Denver East and (23) Overland: The winner of the 5A Metro North League title will get that conference’s only playoff berth and the showdown between Denver East and Overland will provide a clear front runner for that position. Both currently sit inside the top 24 of the Index, but unless they capture a league title, they’ll slide out of the playoff picture and allow the No. 25 team (currently ThunderRidge) to get into the bracket.
  • (24) Fossil Ridge: With Fairview still on the schedule, Sabercats have absolutely no room for error this week. A loss to Rocky Mountain likely knocks them out of the playoff field and if they can’t turn around and beat the Knights next week, that may shut the door on their season altogether.
  • (21) Brighton: The Bulldogs likely need to go 2-1 in their last three games to solidify their postseason hopes. With Legacy still waiting in the wings, a win over 2-5 Horizon on Saturday is as important as any Week 8 game can possibly be.

Class 4A:

  • (25) Widefield: With Centaurus getting a win on Thursday, the Gladiators have to hold their ground against Palmer in order to setup an I-25 league championship game next week. The winner of the I-25 league is the only team from the conference eligible for the postseason.
  • (26) Far Northeast Warriors: After nearly upsetting Thomas Jefferson last week, the Warriors need that momentum to carry over in a crucial league game against Ponderosa. With Denver South on the schedule next week, it’s unlikely FNE makes the playoffs with losses in both Week 8 and Week 9.
  • (20) Monarch: After starting the season 4-0, the Coyotes have to stop their losing streak before they slide out of the top 24 of the Index. They face a Longmont team that is on the opposite trajectory. The Trojans started 0-3 but have now rattled off four straight wins.

Class 3A:

  • (17) Summit: After a close loss to Durango last week, it’s essential that Tigers beat Palisade in order to stay in the top 16 of the Index. In fact, they likely need to win their next two games to boost their playoff chances for this season.
  • (16) Pueblo County and (19) Discovery Canyon: The winner of this game will become the front runner for the Pikes Peak League title. They both sit right around the bottom end of the bracket so this game will likely give the winner a bit of a boost and improve their positioning over the next couple of weeks.

Class 2A:

  • (16) Montezuma-Cortez: With a bye week coming next week, the Panthers have just two chances to improve their placement in the Index. The problem is their final regular season game is against No. 1 Delta so a win against Pagosa Springs this week is a must-have.
  • (20) Alamosa: Even sitting at No. 20 in the Index, Alamosa is still alive for a playoff berth. The Mean Moose rolled to a big win over Lamar last week and if they run the table to end the regular season, they’ll be right on the bubble. That means they can’t afford a loss Friday against Manitou Springs.

Class 1A:

  • (17) Rye: The Thunderbolts are currently on the outside looking in at the 1A playoffs. A win against Peyton might get them up to that No. 16 spot ahead of a big showdown with Banning Lewis next week.
  • (15) Monte Vista: With a probable league championship game with Centauri two weeks away, the Pirates could use the next two weeks to bolster their playoff position and lock up a spot ahead of that clash with the Falcons. Monte Vista takes on Ignacio Friday night.


  • (17) Holly: The Wildcats face McClave in a likely league title game on Friday. The Cardinals have a comfortable spot at No. 11 in the Index while Holly sits right outside of the bracket. It’s Holly who needs the win more this week.
  • (14) Merino: With games against two likely playoff teams to close out the regular season, the Rams need a win over Caliche in Week 8 to protect a playoff spot as much as possible ahead of those games.


  • (15) Eads: With little room for error, Eads might need to win two of their next three games to advance to the postseason. With Cheyenne Wells and Idalia both on the schedule, a win against of them is crucial. No better time for the Eagles than this week against the Tigers.
  • (17) Prairie and (18) Fleming: There is a good chance that the loser of this game will be knocked out of postseason contention altogether. While it’s no guarantee that a win gets either one in, hopes will still be alive in Week 9 for whoever walks away from this contest with the victory.