Boulder is greatly improved after a dismal season last year. RB Brian Beckord and QB Pat McNiece both have D1 potential. Beckord can play and a tough league has stymied McNiece after a breakout junior season.
Mullen boasts a trio of weapons on offense in QB Conor Rauschelbauch, RB Maurice Greer, and WR Nathan Yorks. Conor is a talent, but will definitely have to work on his all-around game. Greer is arguably the best player in the state and Yorks can flat out fly!
Coaches and fans alike despise conference match-ups in the playoffs. These two played just four weeks ago and it was a thriller. Boulder held Greer to just 140 yards and a three-point lead with 2:36 remaining before Mullen went 80 yards to score the winning touchdown. Don't expect this game to be any different.
Cherry Creek at Columbine-Jefferson County Stadium
Ponderosa at Montbello-All City Stadium
Ponderosa had high expectations coming into this season. With an early setback to Poudre and a close 7-6 loss to Arapahoe, they still made it to the Continental championship against Heritage, losing 27-7. Led by RB Thomas Lawson (an underrated FB at 6-1 225 and 4.6 40), and LB Tyler Wanzeck.
Montbello's only loss came in the only game they had to play all year, Cherry Creek. A surprising shut out for the young Bruins had Warrior fans mystified. No worries, the DPL continues to disapoint and they ran the table with their closest game coming at the hands of underachieving South and TJ. Both were 20-point blowouts. QB Franklin Henderson has thrown for 1900 yards and 22 TDs and their defense is lead by Chris Walker who has 50 tackles and nine sacks. The funny thing with Montbello is they are definitely a team. Eight players have 50+ tackles and they boast six RBs with 30+ carries. The most is Quinton McGary at 46 for 267 yards.
Do not be surprised if Ponderosa comes in and sticks it to the Warriors. DPL is notorious for playoff flops and this could easily follow that same trend.
Denver South at Legacy-5 Star Stadium
South in many eyes were the team to beat in DPL and maybe the state this year. With five kids getting strong D1 consideration and the states all-time sack leader Calais Campbell, the Rebels have underachieved. A close loss to undefeated Pomona 17-14 on the road was at first an upset. Pomona has shown otherwise. Another blowout to Poudre and a loss to Montbello clearly stated South wasn't as good as hyped and didn't beat one good team all year. RB Patrick Ealy is probably headed out east for football although he is undecided at this point(1700 rushing, 32TDs). Calais Campbell is the state's all-time leading sack master at 54! Also has 300 yards and 5TDs at tight end.
Legacy is a bit of anomaly. Playing in probably what is 5A's weakest conference (DPL definitely puts up a fight) their only loss is to 8-2 Arvada West. They beat two non-playoff 4A teams and a 1-9 Eaglecrest in 5A for non-conference, yet they get South, while Mullen gets Boulder? (Wacky Wildcard format). RB Dan Cummings is their leader with 1,300 yards rushing.
This game bodes much more winnable for the DPL. Legacy is overrated plain and simple. Legacy may squeak by but they wont go any further.
Heritage at Douglas County-LPS
Conference matchup, Conference matchup, Conference matchup. These are getting old quickly. Heritage's only loss was an upset by Rangeview or else they may be undefeated. Their non-conference was weak, but they survived the rugged eight game Continental and beat Ponderosa handily for the title 27-7. Bobby Coy is the heart and soul of this team leading 5A with 2,057 yards rushing.
Douglas County was running strong after an early loss to Regis. They met up with conference rival Ponderosa for the right to play Heritage, they lost. Another blowout loss to Regis for third place has the Huskies reeling at exactly the wrong time. TE Kevin McPeeke, a CSU commit, and LB Ross Diehl (younger bro of all state Wyoming frosh Adam Diehl) look to rebound in the playoffs.
McPeeke has had a subpar year on a running team, but the Huskies can win this game. Heritage is playing good football right now and if DC cannot stop Coy it will be over quickly.
Overland at Grandview-Legacy Stadium
Grandview has a small quick defense that can shut teams down. QB Ryan Walters and WR Aubrey Quarles are the best tandem in the state when healthy. LB Shea Hopkins is an absolute animal on defense.
Overland has quietly found its way into the playoffs. DL Robert Claypool and LB Tyler Joyce lead a young and banged up Trailblazer defense. A well coached team; if the dynamic duo from Grandview aren't healthy it will be hard for the Wolves defense to carry the team in the playoffs.
Another conference matchup in the first round. Grandview dominated the first game 24-0. Big plays killed the Trailblazers as they gave up a 67 yard touchdown pass and had a fumble returned for another touchdown. Overland desperately wants to avenge their earlier loss. If Walters and Quarles are on, this will be an excellent game.
Poudre is coming off one if its better seasons. The Front Range League has been down with the emergence of Legacy and their non-conference (Mullen 44-47 and Pomona 21-28) schedule too much to win the league. Alex Square ran for 1,500 yards and has some potential.
Arvada West had a great year with losses coming at the hands of Columbine 3-7 and Pomona 21-28. RB Jimmy DeAndrea (1255 yards) was the fire engine that could but a knee blowout against Columbine ended his season and what most think any hope of winning the state title. QB John Varner is as mobile as they come and a multi-sport star. LB Kyle Sand is one of the toughest kids in the state. An undefeated three-time wrestling champ, at 5' 10" 190lbs Kyle packs a punch.
Arvada West would have been the pick here earlier in the season, but Poudre has played tough in all three losses to the #1, #2, #5 teams in 5A. This should be a grind it out match up out off Highway 93.
Regis at Pomona-Jefferson County Stadium
How Regis (6-4) got in over Arapahoe (7-3) is beyond me. They did take it to Douglas County twice and have a head full of steam heading into the playoffs. Head coach Jim Ryan is obviously a master motivator after his first two years have started 0-5 last year and 1-3 this year only to finish strong and make the playoffs. QB Joe Tenorio and WR John Matthews (1,134 yards) are playmakers. Matthews does have potential but lacks consistency.
Pomona came from out of nowhere in the stacked Jefferson County League. Under first year head coach Jay Madden (Mullen, Dakota Ridge) the Panthers are on the prowl for another state title. Some may remember the fall classic in which all-state LB Steve Bratten and former head coach Jim Bratten's son, jumped off the bench to stop a fatal touchdown! It made ESPN! Pomona's Nick Sullivan has only been playing QB starting this year, but he is a leader. He will beat you with heart and his feet. RB Jared Yannacito is also a talent in the backfield as both have ran for over 1,100 yards.
Pomona should win this game and advance but Regis has surprised under Ryan and has the talent to do so. If Tenorio and Matthews get hot Pomona could go down early. Look for Sullivan to push the ball down the field in the mold of the Columbines of old.