It appeared to Silver Creek head coach Rob Johnson as though most people were penciling in Centaurus or even Niwot to win the Northern League boys soccer regular-season title in 2018.
Few, including Johnson himself, saw the Silver Creek boys coming.
Through the first several weeks of the season, the Raptors were well below the .500 mark after a five-game losing streak dropped them to 2-5 on Sept. 17. Then conference play hit and the Raptors went 6-1 in league while Centaurus, Northridge and Niwot each finished with two losses. The Raptors looked like a club destined for a dismal season but their second-half run landed the Raptors their program's second Northern title and set them up as the No. 14 seed in the upcoming Class 4A state tournament.
On Tuesday, the Raptors (9-6) will host a first-round playoff game and will welcome No. 19 George Washington (8-6-1) to Longmont to kick off the postseason.
"It's nice to have a home game," Johnson said. "We won the league and that was unexpected. We had some injuries and got real thin early. We dumped a bunch of games early on but we got healthy and got hot going into league. And then we finished up with Centaurus and Niwot and it's only the second league title in the program's history so the boys are really excited about that."
All 4A first-round games will be played on Wednesday. Last year's runner-up, Centaurus enters the tournament unexpectedly low at No. 16 while Niwot and Holy Family come in at No. 18 and No. 10, respectively.
On Thursday, Class 5A will play its first round and the Front Range League teams will look to continue their dominance of the postseason.
When the playoff pairings were released on Monday, Fairview found itself sitting at No. 1 atop the postseason bracket and cross-town rival Boulder was listed at No. 2. Defending state champion Broomfield is the No. 13 overall seed and Legacy enters the playoffs at No. 5. All four teams will have home games in the first round.
The top seed in last year's Class 3A tournament and a quarterfinalist, Jefferson Academy starts the 2018 playoffs at No. 25 and has to travel to face No. 8 Vail Mountain in the first round. In that same quadrant, Peak to Peak comes in a No. 24 and could face conference rival Jefferson Academy in the second round if both teams can pull off first-round upsets.
The first round of the 3A state tournament also will be played on Thursday.
In the first 2A postseason, Dawson School earned the No. 3 seed and will have a first-round bye.
All championships game will be played at Dick'S Sporting Good Park in Commerce City. The 5A championship game will be played on Nov. 9 and the title games for 2A, 3A and 4A will be held on Nov. 10.
Local first-round matchups
Class 5A, Thursday, Oct. 25
(32) Mountain Vista at (1) Fairview, 6:30 p.m.
(31) Chaparral at (2) Boulder, 7 p.m.
(28) Westminster at (5) Legacy, 6 p.m.
(20) Liberty at (13) Broomfield, 6 p.m.
Class 4A, Wednesday, Oct. 24
(17) Standley Lake at (16) Centaurus, 6 p.m.
(24) Northridge at (9) Skyline, 3:30 p.m.
(19) George Washington at (14) Silver Creek, 3:30 p.m.
(18) Niwot at (15) Pueblo West, TBA
(23) Evergreen at (10) Holy Family), 6:15 p.m.
Class 3A, Thursday, Oct. 25
(25) Jefferson Academy at (8) Vail Mountain, TBA
(24) Peak to Peak at (9) Liberty Common, TBA
(3) Dawson School has a first-round bye