There were no doubt plenty of followers of big-school prep football in Colorado last summer who said "Apo-who" when Silver Creek quarterback Austin Apodaca committed to play at Washington State next fall.
It's not exactly frequent, after all, that someone from the 3A ranks earns a college scholarship at a BCS-conference school.
But college recruiters weren't looking at SCHS' enrollment. They saw a big right arm, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame with room to grow and a smart, fundamentally-sound signal caller. While Washington State was the only BCS school to offer a scholarship, others like Colorado, Oregon and Oregon State had shown interest before he committed to the Cougars.
If prep football fans in Colorado didn't notice Apodaca's 2,367 yards and 25 touchdowns passing last year, his commitment to a Pac-12 school certainly put him on the map. Now in the spotlight, the fifth-ranked Raptors' leader is simply shining even brighter.
In four games this season, he's already thrown for 1,008 yards and 14 touchdowns, completing 71 percent of his passes. Comfortable in the pocket, he's got the green light to audible and has developed into one of the Raptors' key team leaders in a talented senior class.
After playing Friday night in a showdown of top-5 teams at No. 4 Windsor -- which boasts a D-I recruit of its own in Penn State offensive line commit Joey O'Connor -- Apodaca will be in the stands at CU's Folsom Field on Saturday rooting on his future Wazzu teammates and hoping he gets the chance to lead the Cougars onto that field someday.
"I'm just so happy for him because I know how hard he's worked," said Silver Creek coach Mike Apodaca, who also happens to be his quarterback's father.
Both father and son knew there would be some bumps along the way when the coach first made Austin the starting quarterback in 2009. They needed only look down the Diagonal Highway to then-Colorado coach Dan Hawkins and his son Cody to see the backlash that could occur if things went badly.
Despite the spindly sophomore helping the Raptors improve their record in 2009, Austin Apodaca said he caught plenty of grief from students and others outside the program who felt he'd only been named starter because of his last name.
"Especially sophomore year, you're 15 years old, and you're just like, 'Why are these people throwing all of this hatred and stuff at me,'" Austin Apodaca said.
Things like an 8-4 state quarterfinal run last year and a 3-1 start this season tend to quiet naysayers. And the overall experience has been one father and son won't forget.
"It's been a blast because I've really got a great relationship with him," the quarterback said.
Of course, Austin is far from the only reason Silver Creek is gunning for state title contention this season, as both Apodacas are quick to point out. The Raptors have been waiting for this group of seniors for a while now.
Receivers like Ryan Rankin, Greg Reynolds and KC Lord are all college prospects themselves at some level, as are linemen Ben Wooching, Trace Gray and 6-6, 220-pound tight end Wyatt Knechtel.
After a tough 36-35 season-opening loss to Kent Denver, the Raptors have out-scored their last three foes 137-19.
And Friday night's big clash with Windsor is the type of game that Mike Apodaca -- now in his ninth season as head coach at the decade-old school -- said his squad is nowadays anxious to play, rather than nervous.
"That's a good place to be with our program," the coach said.
Boulder (3-1, 0-0) at
Ralston Valley (4-0, 0-0)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., North Area Athletic Complex.
Last week: Mountain Range 21, Boulder 0; Ralston Valley 35, Rocky Mountain 0.
Quick hits: North Metro League play begins for both squads, with 5A sixth-ranked Ralston Valley riding a wave of momentum and Boulder trying to rebound from its first loss. Ralston Valley, surprise league champ a year ago, has posted three shutouts and allowed just 20 points.
Lindenstein's line: Ralston Valley by 15.
Longmont (5-0, 1-0) at
Thompson Valley (0-4, 0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., Ray Patterson Field.
Last week: Longmont 49, Greeley Central 0; Fossil Ridge 45, Thompson Valley 19.
Quick hits: Longmont quarterback Forrest Wetterstrom has racked up nearly 1,000 yards of offense so far. Last week he went a cool 14 for 15 for 186 yards and four touchdowns passing for the 4A No. 3 Trojans, who beat TVHS by 20 last season.
Lindenstein's line: Longmont by 39.
Loveland (0-4, 0-1)
at Niwot (1-3, 0-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., Everly-Montgomery Field.
Last week: Greeley West 58, Niwot 31; Broomfield 36, Loveland 6.
Quick hits: Niwot is trying to turn the corner with its rebuilding project while Loveland is looking to save some face. The visiting Indians haven't had a losing season in 20 years. Niwot's offensive weapons should be good enough in this game if the defense can hold up.
Lindenstein's line: Niwot by 4.
Silver Creek (3-1)
at Windsor (4-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., Dudley Field.
Last week: Silver Creek 50, Sterling 7; Windsor 21, Mountain View 7.
Quick hits: A top-5 clash of styles. Class 3A No. 5 Silver Creek does its damage through the air thanks to Washington State recruit Austin Apodaca at quarterback and a slew of good receivers. Behind Penn State recruit Joey O'Connor on the offensive line, No. 4 Windsor pounds the ball with its running game.
Lindenstein's line: Silver Creek by 2.
Fort Lupton (0-4)
at Erie (1-3)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., Erie HS.
Last week: Frederick 42, Erie 21; Berthoud 27, Fort Lupton 14.
Quick hits: It's been a long road for Erie since the Tigers knocked off defending 3A champ Elizabeth in the opener. The next two games provide chances to get back on track.
Lindenstein's line: Erie by 17.
at Sterling (0-4)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., Sterling HS.
Last week: Skyline 24, Northridge 0; Silver Creek 50, Sterling 7.
Quick hits: With a brutal 3A Northern League slate awaiting Skyline next week, the Falcons need to start building momentum off of last week's win now if they hope to make any kind of run this season.
Lindenstein's line: Skyline by 8.
Resurrection Christian (3-1, 0-0)
at Lyons (3-1, 0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., Jett Johnson Field.
Last week: Lyons 54, Highland 0; Resurrection 48, Holyoke 27.
Quick hits: The Metro North opener for both should decide the league title and the automatic playoff berth that goes with it. Both teams have been rolling, with Resurrection's only blemish a Week 1 forfeit in a game it won.
Lindenstein's line: Lyons by 5.
Soroco (3-1, 1-0)
at Justice (0-1, 0-1)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., Recht Field.
Last week: North Park 40, Justice 0; Soroco 34, Vail Christian 20.
Quick hits: Suspensions and penalties handicapped Justice last week in its opener. Soroco, meanwhile, is looking like West Grand's biggest challenger for the Central Division title.
Lindenstein's line: Soroco by 21.
Legacy (2-2, 0-0)
at Fairview (2-2, 0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., Recht Field.
Last week: Horizon 14, Fairview 10; Cherokee Trail 17, Legacy 0.
Quick hits: Two four-point losses in a row have made the Knights' league opener even more important. Victories over a balanced Legacy squad and Arvada West next week would revive FHS' momentum heading into a showdown with Pomona.
Lindenstein's line: Fairview by 5.
Broomfield (3-1, 1-0)
at Greeley West (3-1, 1-0)
Kickoff: 1 p.m., District 6 Stadium.
Last week: Broomfield 36, Loveland 6; Greeley West 58, Niwot 31.
Quick hits: This one has a bit of a playoff feel. Greeley West is ranked seventh in 4A, while Broomfield is eighth. Both teams' losses came to Monarch. The winner puts itself in the driver's seat for a showdown with Longmont that will likely decide the Northern League crown.
Lindenstein's line: Greeley West by 4.
Monarch (4-0, 1-0) at
Dakota Ridge (0-4, 0-1)
Kickoff: Noon, Jefferson County Stadium.
Last week: Monarch 34, Prairie View 0; Green Mountain 14, Dakota Ridge 10.
Quick hits: Dakota Ridge, a state semifinalist a year ago, is struggling to say the least. Class 4A No. 2 Monarch is its usual run-game-powered of a juggernaut self heading toward a likely 10-0 regular season.
Lindenstein's line: Monarch by 22.
Arvada (2-2, 0-1)
at Centaurus (1-3, 0-1)
Kickoff: Noon, Warrior Stadium.
Last week: Holy Family 27, Centaurus 12; Kennedy 62, Arvada 0.
Quick hits: The Warriors have missed the playoffs only once in coach Chad Senseney's eight-year tenure. But they'll likely need to win the rest of their games to get back this season.
Lindenstein's line: Centaurus by 23.
Holy Family (4-0, 1-0)
at Denver North (2-2, 0-1)
Kickoff: 1 p.m., All City Stadium.
Last week: Holy Family 27, Centaurus 12; D'Evelyn 42, Denver North 0.
Quick hits: As long as the Tigers don't peek ahead too much, this one should provide a one last nice tune-up for big showdowns against Skyview and Kennedy the next two weeks that could decide the 3A Metro North race.
Lindenstein's line: Holy Family by 34.
Cornerstone Christian (1-3, 0-0)
at Nederland (2-2, 0-0)
Kickoff: 1 p.m., Nederland HS
Last week: Nederland 41, KIPP Collegiate 6; Front Range Christian 19, Cornerstone 15.
Quick hits: Nederland will look to keep its win streak going by avenging last year's 18-12 loss to Cornerstone. The way he's rushed the last two games, the Panthers might just be able to ride Joe Moctezuma (726 yards rushing on year) to a winning record heading into the Lyons game.
Lindenstein's line: Nederland by 7.