New rankings won’t be released until Monday afternoon but there’s a good chance our list of top games for week three will include five games pitting top five teams against one another. They are spread nicely through the big school and small school ranks and all will likely impact playoff seeding come November.
Below is our list of 16 top football games for week three. Some notes are included on each but we’ll preview all more in-depth during our classification previews Tuesday through Thursday. Then Colorado Preps will recap the weekend during our Scoreboard Show this Friday from 9:30-11:00pm on the statewide radio network.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY WILDCAT PRIDE PHOTO / BRADLEY SIMON
LOVELAND AT RALSTON VALLEY: Both clubs were ranked in the top five of their respective class last week and should be again when new polls are released on Monday. Both teams are 2-0. Loveland, despite losing Zac Rakowsky to graduation and getting a new coach, has not missed a beat in rolling past city rivals Thompson Valley and Mountain View by a combined 83-0 score. Garret Harstad has rushed for 218 yards and passed for 99 in the wins. Ralston Valley will have returned from Florida after picking up a 31-17 win over Freedom FL over the weekend. They feature a long list of underclassmen on offense including junior QB James Wochner who threw for 217 yards in the opening win over Fossil Ridge.
REGIS AT MULLEN: Both teams are 1-1 but this game generated a bit more interest when Mullen rallied from 14 down to stun #5 Legend 25-21. It was probably the best win at the school for coach Jeremy Bennett. It was a reversal of week one where the Mustangs led a lead against Cherokee Trail evaporate in a 35-24 loss. Regis recovered from an opening loss to Valor by downing Highlands Ranch 52-17 on Saturday. 31 second quarter points turned the game in the Raiders favor.
FOUNTAIN FORT CARSON AT CHATFIELD: The Trojans and Chargers are regular visitors to the playoff bracket and will most likely be included again in 2021. As a result, this game will impact RPI standings and bracket placement at years end. Could be an offensive shootout as both teams have firepower on that side of the ball. Chatfield rolled up 49 points in an opening win over Longmont and then added another 43 in downing Brighton last week. Jake Marschall has 304 yards rushing and sophomore QB Jake Jones has 190 yards passing while completing 11 of 17 attempts. Fountain Fort Carson lost a game with Liberty slated for week two but generated 48 points in a week one win over Widefield. Dezmen Oliver ran for 117 yards and Tavian Tull threw for 116.
PINE CREEK AT VISTA RIDGE: Hope this game gets played as Vista Ridge had to pull out of a much anticipated game with Dakota Ridge in week two. The school went on remote learning with some students into quarantine so they wisely made the decision not to play. They were riding high from a come-from-behind win over Windsor in their opener but now must refocus on the matchup with Pine Creek, which over the past decade has been the top 4A program in Colorado Springs and often the entire state. The Eagles are 2-0 this year; posting shutouts against both Pueblo West and Denver East. Maybe that will be enough to get them into the 4A Top 10 this week.
THOMAS JEFFERSON AT DAKOTA RIDGE: Following a surprising week one loss to Eagle Valley in overtime, TJ quickly righted the ship to blow past 41-8 in week two. They want to run the football and through two games the Spartans are averaging 326 yards per game. QB Austin Lindgren leads the team with 267 yards with Jake Tapia next at 133. Dakota Ridge was hyped to face Vista Ridge in week two but had to reschedule late to face Thornton. It was an easy win as expected as they picked up a 42-14 win with all 42 points coming in the first half. They have been tested as they edged a Florida opponent 23-20 in week one.
DURANGO AT MONTROSE: LIke TJ-Dakota Ridge, this is a matchup of top programs from 3A and 4A. Durango won the 3A championship last Fall and has begun defense of that title by dominating both Pagosa Springs (58-0) and Aztec NM (54-0). Montrose rallied from nine points down to edge Fruita Monument in a top 10 4A battle last week. It will be physical as both teams prefer to run the football. One side note is Todd Casebier. He’s the new coach at Durango but has history at Montrose as he resurrected the Indians program. When he took the job in 2005, the Indians had lost 29 of 30 games but he led them to an 8-3 record and into the playoffs his very first year. Current coach Brett Mertens has done “okay” with the Indians as well; collecting 32 wins in three and a half years. We count last year as a half year since most teams played just six or seven games.
MEAD AT DISCOVERY CANYON: One of another games on the schedule that likely features two playoff teams stepping onto the same field. Mead will be west rested. They were scheduled to meet Eagle Valley last Friday but the game was postponed when the Devils went into quarantine and it was too late in the week to find a new opponent. Discovery Canyon improved to 2-0 with a solid win over Pueblo South 21-13. All 21 points came in the opening half and then the defense did enough to keep the Thunder unbeaten through two weeks.
FREDERICK AT FORT MORGAN: Both clubs are 2-0 and both should again be in the 3A Top 10 when new rankings are released on Monday afternoon. Each has used a different strategy in getting to this point. The Warriors have outscored their first two opponents 49-0 in the first half while Fort Morgan has a 52-13 advantage in second half action while beating Scottsbluff NE and Brush. Two very good quarterbacks, Bryce Conover (Frederick) and Briggs Wheatley (Fort Morgan), will also be on display.
PALISADE AT DELTA: After blanking Summit and Salida by a combined 76-0 score, Delta badly needs a test to get them ready for what should be a very tough conference slate that includes matchups with Rifle, Basalt and Moffat County. Palisade should feel that role, maybe even more so as they were upset by Grand Junction Central 12-8 last Friday. It was their first loss to the Warriors since 2007. The Bulldogs ran for 279 yards and averaged over seven yards a carry in the loss but lost two fumbles. They have not completed a pass through two games.
SEVERANCE AT PLATTE VALLEY: Despite spending the first two weeks in the 2A top 10, Severance is still a very new program and this matchup with Platte Valley will let them know if they belong among the top clubs in the division. So far that answer is yes, especially on defense where the Silver Knights have not allowed a point in two games. They blanked D’Evelyn 54-0 to open and followed up with a 27-2 win over Niwot where the Cougars scored their points on a safety. The Knights are under the direction of Jeff Van Winkle who is in his first year at Severance after a successful run at Resurrection Christian. His quarterback coach, Tanner Schwindt, played the position at Platte Valley for current head coach Troy Hoffman. PV was off last week after using a strong defensive effort in beating 1A power Strasburg 18-7 in their opener.
BASALT AT FAITH CHRISTIAN: A week three matchup of likely playoff teams in Class 2A. Basalt has already been tested as they worked through two overtimes before downing 3A Battle Mountain 40-34 last Thursday. Despite the big point total, it was probably the Longhorns defense that saved the day as they intercepted two passes and also blocked a field goal. Trevin Beckman had 15 tackles with Sam Sherry and Wilson Maytham each finishing with 11. Faith Christian was off in week two after drilling Prospect Ridge 42-0 in their opener. Cody Connor threw for 213 yards and three touchdowns on just six completions.
NORTH FORK AT MONTE VISTA: North Fork could be considered the favorite to win the Western Slope title and that could be their best route to the playoffs. Monte Vista may end up second to Centauri in the Southern Peaks so they could waiting for a wildcard bid at seasons’ end. A win here over the Miners will help that cause. Monte played 2A Alamosa toe-to-toe for three quarters before surrendering two pick-six’s that put the game out of their reach. North Fork did not play last week but dominated Center in the opener (42-8). The Miners ran for 228 yards and gave up just 29.
STRASBURG AT LIMON: All these two schools have done is combine to win the last five state championships in Class 1A. And they’ve squared off in the last three with Limon winning all three title pairings. Both clubs head into week three off wins but they were earned in different fashion. Limon jumped out to a quick 16-0 lead at Meeker and went on to roll the Cowboys 43-7. Strasburg trailed Yuma 16-12 in the fourth quarter before scoring in the final few minutes to stun the Indians 19-16. This will mark the sixth meeting since the start of the 2018 season with Limon winning four of the previous five. Strasburg’s lone win came during the 2019 regular season.
MANCOS AT MERINO: Despite the distance, the two clubs have played on a regular basis either in the regular season or playoffs. They did not face off during COVID last year but Mancos scored a wild 48-34 win during the 2019 regular season. The Bluejays also won 14-6 in 2018 but Merino returned the favor with a dominating 40-0 playoff win. This year’s contest will be at Fairplay (South Park HS) and again will be physical. The Rams blanked Pikes Peak Christian 26-0 in week one; limiting the Eagles to just 115 yards of offense. They sat through a bye in week two. Mancos has outscored Hayden and Dolores 118-8 with Chase Moore already scoring ten TDs overall.
FOWLER AT AKRON: The Rams took out one of the favorites in the Ark Valley when they outlasted Holly 36-30 in overtime last Friday. Now they face another club that could also win that conference title when Fowler arrives in Northeast Colorado. The Grizzlies will have two weeks to prep as they’re coming off a bye after downing Sargent 54-6 in their opener. Their defense allowed just 168 total yards in the win. Akron threw for 208 yards and ran for 240 against Holly with sophomore QB Ryan McCaffrey responsible for most of that total. He completed 8 of 19 passes for 208 yards in the air and added another 116 on 15 rushing attempts. Freshman Jackson Filla also scored twice in the run game.
GRANADA AT IDALIA: A likely top five matchup in the six man division as the Bobcats were number one and Idalia fifth in last week’s poll. Neither should fall as both were impressive winners; Granada rolled Eads 48-6 and Idalia handled Otis 65-8. The Bobcats must avoid looking ahead to a huge conference game with Cheyenne Wells coming up in week four. It could also be a pairing of the top two ranked teams in the state. Idalia has rung up 131 points in eight quarters.