Halfway through the regular season, Colorado Preps is starting to get a good feel for which teams will make a playoff run in Classes 3A, 4A and 5A. Eight teams from each division qualify for the playoffs and the list of contenders narrows a bit more each weekend. PHOTO BY COREY GUILDNER
We take the most recent results and update our playoff projections for the largest three classifications. Please note the teams in each division are listed in alphabetical order. Maybe down the road a week or so we can start considering where teams will be placed in the bracket concerning a seed.
League champions are not guaranteed a berth in the bracket this year. Selections will be made based on a formula that combines polls from CHSAA, RPI, MaxPreps and Packard. RPI has been updated on Sunday with the coaches poll out on Monday. MaxPreps normally updates on Tuesday and Packard may have to wait until Wednesday as week three doesn’t finish until then due to a game in the eight man ranks. Two other games are set for Monday.
We make one change in our playoff selections this week as Legend moves in ahead of Grandview. The Titans were ranked 10th last week and will move up thanks to their 31-7 win over #7 Regis. The win moves the Titans very close to their league title but the recognition by the coaches and a #5 ranking in the RPI will get them into our bracket this week. Grandview is 1-2 following a loss to Cherry Creek. The Wolves are in still in contention and enter a two week stretch of critical games with Smoky Hill and Cherokee Trail.
Cherokee Trail is also in the mix as the Cougars are #11 in the RPI this week. They will need to keep winning and maybe get some help from others.
Fairview has a key game coming up this week. The Knights meet Legacy in a battle of 3-0 teams with first place in the Front Range on the line. The Knights are up to #3 in the RPI and that helps them remain in our playoff bracket this week.
Another key game on tap this week pits Castle View against Valor Christian. The Sabercats are 2-0 and a win moves them quickly up the playoff ladder. Valor Christian of course remains a solid playoff pick regardless of the outcome.
- Cherry Creek
- Legend (new)
- Ralston Valley
- Valor Christian
Nothing changes in our top eight this week as each club in our playoff bracket last week were winners over the weekend. That includes Skyline who scored a wild 51-38 win over Longmont and Ponderosa who rallied from seven points down to beat Fruita Monument 28-21. Maybe the best win though went to Windsor as the Wizards moved to 3-0 with their double overtime win over Erie.
But look at the depth of Class 4A midway through the regular season. Our list of eight playoff qualifiers DOES NOT include teams such as Pueblo West, Broomfield, Vista Ridge, Montrose, Brighton and Erie. Erie is currently 14th in RPI but the other clubs on that list are in the top 10. One game set for this week involves a matchup of the bubble teams as Brighton faces Erie. That’s likely an elimination game as both teams already have one loss.
Pueblo West is #3 in RPI with Broomfield and Vista Ridge tied for fifth so they remain solid contenders. Vista Ridge stayed alive by stunning Rampart 32-31 in overtime; coming from double digits down in the fourth quarter. Broomfield faces Heritage in week four.
Fountain Fort Carson is the opponent for Pueblo West this week and that’s one of two heavyweight clashes on tap. The other is Montrose against Palmer Ridge. Outcomes of those two could change our playoff bracket as the Cyclones and Indians would break into our pairings with victories in week four.
Of the teams on our list below, four are outside the top eight in RPI but make up for that with strong standings in the remaining three polls. Those three clubs are Palmer Ridge and Skyline (tied for 9th) along with Loveland (#14) and Pine Creek (#19).
- Dakota Ridge
- Palmer Ridge
- Pine Creek
- Fountain Fort Carson
Mead’s impressive shutout win over Fort Morgan gets the Mavericks into our playoff bracket for the first time this year. Many polling sources had them ranked them very high at the start of the year but we had questions based on the long list of key players they lost to graduation. But those questions have been answered over the last two weeks as they pushed Roosevelt to overtime in a week two loss and then handled Fort Morgan last week.
Despite the loss to Lutheran, Palisade remains in our playoff bracket but the Bulldogs face an important game with Green Mountain coming up this week. The Rams are unbeaten and if Palisade falls short, the best record they can end with is 4-2 and that may not be good enough.
Lutheran has probably been the biggest surprise through the midway point of the season. Unranked to begin the season, the Lions are suddenly #1 in RPI thanks to back-to-back wins over Discovery Canyon and Palisade. They have a key game with Holy Family in two weeks and a win in that one should secure a top four seed and home game in round one. This week with Pueblo County is not a pushover either. The Hornets are coming off a lopsided loss to Durango but their schedule will keep them in the playoff discussion.
Outside our top eight, there are teams pushing for a playoff berth. That list includes Canon City (tied for #5 in RPI) , Conifer (#7), Pueblo County (#10) and Pueblo East (#11). Canon City missed last week’s game with Niwot due to COVID and right now we are unsure if they will face Pueblo Central as planned this week. Pueblo County as mentioned has another tough assignment this week.
Fort Morgan dropped to 12th in RPI following the loss to Mead. The Mustangs may now have to beat Roosevelt in week five to secure a post-season berth.
Defending state runner-up Pueblo South made a big splash in their 2020 debut on Saturday as they handled Pueblo Centennial 41-0. The Colts are only #21 in RPI but much of that is due to missing the first two weeks. More wins will improve that number but South also gets plenty of respect in other polls to offset the low RPI standing.
- Green Mountain
- Holy Family
- Pueblo South