Top-seeded Montrose scored 35 points in the second quarter and cruised into the Class 4A semifinals with a 48-14 win over No. 8 Fountain-Fort Carson.
Ethan Hartmann and Blake Griffin ran for three touchdowns apiece while the Indians totaled 338 yards on the ground.
Saturday will feature a battle of unbeaten teams as Montrose takes on No. 5 Erie. The Tigers hammered Fruita Monument 50-26 in the second round of the playoffs, then defeated No. 4 Palmer Ridge 28-18 in the quarterfinals. Those two squads are common opponents: Montrose defeated Fruita 26-22 in September and edged out Palmer Ridge 28-21 in October.
In 3A, No. 7 Palisade fell to No. 2 Lutheran 49-7. The Lions scored all their points in the first half. The Bulldogs’ lone touchdown was a swing pass from Malakhi Espinosa to Franklin Barks, one of only six seniors graduating off the roster.
Southwestern League action is back and Montrose, one year removed from a trip to the 4A state title game, returns nine players from that roster. That includes its top five scorers and the Indians are ranked No. 3 in the CHSAANow.com poll. Senior forward Luke Hutto was a first-team all-state selection last year and fellow senior point guard Trey Reese was an honorable mention.
Grand Junction returns seven players but the bulk of its rotation is new. Dillon Chapman is the focal point of the offense and enters his senior season after averaging 11.5 points per game as a junior.
Fruita Monument starts a new era after Ryan Hayden was ousted by parents. They bring in Jake Higuera, who coached De Beque to a state title in 2019. They return a pair of sharpshooters, Skylar Johnson and Jayce Jessup, as well as wing Carson Hollingshead.
Durango brings back leading scorer Anthony Flint, who averaged 14.2 points per game last season.
Grand Junction Central brings back a big junior class that includes Eric Macks, who led the Warriors with 9.2 points per game. Braylen Scott and Andrew Serrano will likely play key roles as well.
In the 4A Western Slope League, Steamboat Springs starts the year ranked at No. 10. They feature of a core of players with varsity experience that includes starting point guard Cade Gedeon, who averaged 8.6 points and a team-high 6.4 assists per game last season.
Summit graduated nine seniors off its roster and is looking to rebuild behind three incoming seniors with limited varsity experience.
Palisade welcomes in a new coach in Cory Hitchcock, who was most recently at the University of the Southwest and previously coached in Glenwood Springs. The Bulldogs return one starter from last season: all-state honorable mention pick Donovan Maestas, who averaged 9.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
Rifle brings back leading scorer Kade Bishop for his junior year, as does Glenwood Springs with Reid Swanson.
Eagle Valley’s roster last season featured no seniors last season and Battle Mountain featured only two, giving them ample talent returning.
In 3A action, Aspen brings back the bulk of its roster that finished 13-2 last season. The seven players with the most varsity minutes last season are all back and that includes Braden Korpela (11 PPG), Porter Lee (9.9 PPG) and Shae Korpela (7.9 PPG) for their senior seasons.
Coal Ridge will showcase plenty of new faces after graduating four of its five leading scorers last season. Eddie Salazar returns after averaging 7.6 points per game last season.
Basalt’s two double-digit scorers are back: Gail Moore (14.9 PPG) and Marlon Nelson (11.1 PPG), while Gunnison said goodbye to its two biggest scorers.
Moffat County will showcase the hardwood talents of quarterback Ryan Peck, who averaged 6.1 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds as a wing last season.
Delta brings in a bevy of new faces as they form a varsity rotation.
Grand Valley won only one game last season but returns most of its scoring from last season.
North Fork joins the 3A fray, combining the talents of Hotchkiss and Paonia. Both Blaine Peebles and Caulson Hollembeak will contribute heavily to the Miners’ success.
The 2A/1A Western Slope League includes 1A runner-up De Beque, who fell to Belleview Christian in the state title game. The Dragons graduated their top two scorers but return a core of players — Logan Wingfield, Dillon Hurst and Diego Castro — who are looking to secure the team’s third trip to the state final in four years.
Grand Junction-based charter school Caprock Academy brings back a pair of double-digit scorers in Jonathon Abshear (12.6 PPG) and Andrew Jordan (11.4 PPG).
Cedaredge returns with its leading scorer, Gideon Gilmore, who averaged 9.3 points per game as a sophomore.
Olathe has its three top scorers back for their senior seasons: Jerrel Vigil (15 PPG), Xzavier Waterman (11 PPG) and Garrett Walraven (9.7 PPG).
Plateau Valley featured no seniors last season, where Payton Ferganchick averaged 16.4 points per game.
For the north division of the 2A/1A Western Slope League, Vail Christian brings back its entire roster. Key players include Leo Rothenberg and Vincent Nowicki, who both earned all-league selections last season.
Meeker graduated a large group of seniors but will see the return of Liam Deming, who averaged 10.3 points per game as a junior.
Vale Mountain’s Cole Pattison is back after he averaged 11.3 as a junior.
Hayden will see all new faces average graduating five seniors, while Soroco brings back Jed Kirby and his 8.9 points per game.
Rangely will be led by football standout Keihlin Myers, who led the Panthers with 3.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game last season.
North Park brings back a roster that won only one game last season but has a trio of strong juniors — Troy Gonzales, Hunter Sessions and Montgomery Ramsey.
Fruita Monument was once against atop the Southwestern League standings in 2020-21 to complete their seventh consecutive winning season. All-state honorable mention point guard Kylie Wells is back for her senior year after averaging team highs in points (9.8), assists (1.7) and steals (2.5). The next seven scorers were all juniors and sophomores, giving the Wildcats depth heading into this year.
Grand Junction Central lost two seniors bound for college athletics — one for hoops, the other for softball — but they bring back three strong contributors from last season’s squad. Krystyna Manzanarez averaged 9.4 points per game as a freshman, while Brynn Wagner had 8.1 points per game as a frosh. Alex Wagner averaged a team-high 5.4 rebounds per game last season and is back for her junior year.
Mason Rowland and her league-best 15 points per game are back for Durango, while Montrose’s leading scorer Taylor Yonowsky (11.7 PPG) also returns.
Grand Junction graduated its top six scorers and will feature an all-new rotation this season.
For the 4A Western Slope League, Glenwood Springs returns its top two scorers in Kenzie Winder (6.5 PPG) and Joslyn Spire (6.3 PPG).
Palisade graduated seven players off its varsity roster, including its top five scorers, and Battle Mountain watched three of its top four scorers walk across the graduation stage last spring.
Rifle brings back Jamie Caron (15.1 PPG) and Kimber Lang (7.9 PPG), and Summit returns all but one player from its 3-11 season.
Eagle Valley’s Anna Gill (10 PPG) is back, as is Steamboat Springs standout Samantha Campbell (12.8 PPG).
In 3A, Delta lost four key rotation players to graduation but brings back Erika Kuta, who averaged 12 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season.
Moffat County will be led by Cayden King, who averaged 12.8 points and a team-high 3.2 assists per game last season.
Basalt graduated five of its top six scorers, while Roaring Fork lost two-thirds of its scoring.
Coal Ridge brings back two key juniors — Jackie Camunez (9.9 PPG) and Aceleigh Porter (5.1 PPG).
Grand Valley’s stellar underclassmen are back, with junior Abbeyrose Parker (15.1 PPG) and sophomore Jaycee Pittman (11.8 PGG).
Winless Gunnison returns its leading scorer Melita Ferchau (15.1 PPG).
North Fork sees Vianney Mendoza (9.3 PPG) and Lottie Hollembeak (7.5 PPG) back for their senior seasons.
For the 2A/1A Western Slope League, Cedaredge brings back a pair of combo guards from its playoff run last season. Megan Gastineau was an honorable mention all-state pick and Paige McGovern led the team with 4.3 assists per game.
Olathe lost five starting seniors to graduation, while Plateau Valley will feature junior Maddisyn Miller (12.1 PPG) and sophomore Meloni Miller (9.2 PPG).
Caprock Academy brings back all but one player who scored in a varsity game last season.
In the north division, Soroco’s Kayedence Bruner (15.3 PPG) returns for her senior season.
Meeker will be guided by senior Sarah Kracht (20.1 PPG) and Rangely by senior Mary Scoggins (12 PPG).
North Park brings back three double-digit scorers: Paige Sanchez (20 PPG), Kaylee Carlstrom (13.3 PPG) and Dezirae Gonzales (11 PPG).
Vail Christian will feature fresh faces after graduating four of its top six scorers, while Hayden returns with Alison Rajzer (9.9 PPG).