While teams in the other four classes begin or continue playoffs, clubs in Classes 3A-4A-5A wind down their regular season this week and each class has several important games on tap. Some directly deal with deciding a league champion and even more involve teams trying to improve their RPI standing and playoff hopes.
Poudre (5-4) at Highlands Ranch (6-3) – Thursday
Bear Creek (5-4) at Regis (8-1)
Northglenn (5-4) at Mullen (4-5)
Legend (5-4) at Lakewood (7-2)
Valor Christian (9-0) at Fountain Fort Carson (7-2)
Eaglecrest (9-0) at Arvada West (7-2)
Cherry Creek (7-2) at Far Northeast (6-3) – Saturday
Only one game on the list is a true winner-take-all for the conference championship. It takes place inside the Mt. Antero between Regis and Bear Creek who are both 4-0 and tied atop the standings. Overall the game may be more important to the Bears who are 18th in RPI and may need to win the league title to get into the playoff bracket. Regis is safely in either way as they enter the game 8th overall. Cherry Creek (Mt. Elbert) and Eaglecrest (Mt Wilson) are both alone atop their respective conference but need a win against a second place club to win championships outright. Both teams are favored to do so. Other games on the list involve RPI standings and teams near the bottom oft he top 16. Mullen is 14th, Legend is 15th, Fountain Fort Carson 16th and Poudre 17th starting the week.
Ponderosa (9-0) at Pueblo South (8-1) – Thursday
Mesa Ridge (5-4) at Pine Creek (8-1)
Brighton (6-3) at Broomfield (5-4)
Vista Ridge (6-3) at Rampart (7-2)
Pueblo West (8-1) at Widefield (6-3)
Easy to find the main attraction in Class 4A this week as Ponderosa heads to Pueblo South to decide the Foothills conference crown. The teams are a combined 8-0 in conference play and 17-1 overall. The single loss by Pueblo South is by just one point in overtime to Pueblo West (55-54). The winner is the league champion and gets to play at home in round one but since Ponderosa is 6th in RPI and Pueblo South 9th, the loser could also end up at home as the highest rated non-champion in the RPI. Both Brighton and Broomfield are out of the running for their league title but each is still battling for a playoff berth. The Bulldogs are 15th in RPI and Eagles 20th. Mesa Ridge is 18th in wildcard points so playing Pine Creek will help them in strength of schedule and a win should get them into the top 16. Rampart leads Vista Ridge and Montrose by one game in the Pikes Peak. The Rams are the league champs with a win but Vista Ridge can grab the title through a three-way tie if they win by at least eight points. Widefield is 16th in points and squarely on the playoff bubble but playing Pueblo West will boost their opponents winning record.
Longmont (6-3) at Fort Morgan (6-3)
Palisade (7-2) at Rifle (8-1)
Thomas Jefferson (7-2) at Denver North (7-2)
Harrison (8-1) at Durango (6-3)
Mead (9-0) at Berthoud (6-3)
Erie (7-2) at Frederick (6-3)
Roosevelt (7-2) at Holy Family (4-5)
Two league championship games are on the schedule in week ten as Longmont visits Fort Morgan and Palisade goes to Rifle. The winner of each game grabs a league title and playoff berth while the loser ends up second. Rifle is 8th and Palisade 9th so both the Bears and Bulldogs are headed to the playoffs regardless but that’s not the case in the Northern. Longmont is 13th and Fort Morgan 18th so both the Trojans and Mustangs would take themselves off the playoff bubble by winning on Friday. Thomas Jefferson is 14th and Denver North 17th in RPI so maybe only the winner of their game gets into the post-season. Durango (16th) is another bubble team while Harrison (10th) looks to rebound from their first loss last week to Pueblo East that cost the Panthers the league title. Mead has clinched the Tri Valley crown but all three games are very important to the playoff bracket. The league champion Mavericks top the RPI sheet going into week ten with Roosevelt 3rd and Erie 6th. Those three are safely in the bracket while Berthoud (12th) and Frederick (15th) are part of a very tight six team race between 11th and 16th in RPI. Those positions are separated by just .010 points so shuffling will take place in the final week and some of the teams may not make the post-season. Holy Family (20th) is clinging to playoff hopes and could use a win over Roosevelt to boost their chances. The Tigers are .035 out of 16th and the gap may be too wide even with a victory.