BOULDER — As if the gauntlet that is the Front Range League wasn't tough enough for both Fairview and Boulder.
On Friday and Saturday, the Knights (currently ranked No. 1 in the CHSAANow.com Class 5A poll) and the Panthers (No. 2) will welcome in the six-time defending Delaware state champs from Salesianum.
The Wilmington-based Sallies and coach Scott Mosier take an annual trip out of state to see what the rest of the country has to offer. They went to Louisville, Kentucky last year and will be in Colorado this weekend.
"Obviously, it is a completely different environment than we have here in Delaware and just the experience of being in a different environment and a different climate is great for our boys," said Mosier, who is the schools second head coach since the programs inception in 1975. "The biggest thing, especially in high school sports, is the experience of playing the game."
They will fly in on Thursday morning, play Fairview on Friday evening, Boulder on Saturday afternoon before taking in the sites of the Mile High City. With a team full of college prospects, the Sallies also plan to visit Denver University's campus as well at CU.
"We want to see the culture out in Colorado and let these guys formulate some decisions on what they are looking for in colleges," said Mosier, who coached DU coach Jaime Franks and will take in the Pioneers game on Saturday night against North Florida. "To plays teams outside of our region is always fun."
Salesianum's resume is impressive to say the least. The Sallies, surrounded by a plethora of soccer-rich prep schools that produce college players each and every year, play in Delaware's newly-formed Division 1 and in addition to having won the last six state championships, they have won 10 of the last 12. It was only three years ago that Delaware split in to two divisions, so prior to that they won state titles against a bigger field of 65 in-state schools.
For Boulder and Fairview its a chance to carry the flag for the state of Colorado against a nationally-ranked powerhouse.
Fairview gets the first crack at the Sallies and that could be to their advantage. Like when any team — professional, collegiate or prep — travel to the thin air, it takes some time to get acclimated.
"We've talked about this a little bit and like I told the guys this is not going to be any different than playing Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins or any of the other great teams in our league," Knights coach Jeff Frykholm said. "Those are great matches. They are end to end, they are physical and they are competitive. This is going to be the same and feel like a very high end Front Range League match.
"They do have a tall order to come here, get off a plane, try to acclimate to 80 minutes of soccer at elevation. Hopefully we can tire them out for Boulder on Saturday."
Mosier said that a lot of his boys will be wearing heart rate monitors and the bench will be keeping track of who is struggling.
Boulder coach Hardy Kalisher knows this game could ultimately hurt both teams near the end of the season when the RPI points are totaled, but believes the experience his team will gain is invaluable.
"I think they are ready to test themselves against an out-of-state team that has clearly had a ton of success," said Kalisher, who has moved the game time to noon on Saturday. "I think they've thought out coming to Colorado and testing themselves too."