The holidays are arriving early for high school football fans.

In a turn of events that may make the coverage area the envy of most of the rest of the state, local squads will be vying for berths in the state finals in each of the largest three classifications in Colorado.

That list, of course, includes defending 3A state champion Silver Creek and 4A state champion Monarch, in addition to the undefeated, top-seeded Fairview Knights in Class 5A.

All three squads take the field Saturday afternoon. All three have quite realistic chances of reaching the title games scheduled for Nov. 30.

Silver Creek will be aiming for its third straight title game appearance, losing the 2011 title tilt against Windsor before winning the program's first title last year against Rifle. Coach Mike Apodaca's ninth-seeded Raptors will not have an easy road to traverse in their bid for a third straight title game, as Silver Creek must travel to 13th-seeded Delta. However, the Raptors' wealth of playoff experience helped the club maintain focus during a less-than picturesque win in the quarterfinals last week against Pueblo East, and that experience factor likely will play a key role in Silver Creek's fortunes on the Western Slope.

"We've got to get better this week," Apodaca said. "We know how to stay focused and move on to the next challenge."


Monarch has rolled through its opponents during its quest for a second consecutive title, with the Jay MacIntyre/Ethan Marks-led offense of the Coyotes producing 104 points in its first two playoff games. Perhaps even more important to Monarch's fortunes at this stage is an often overlooked defense that has allowed more than 12 points only once in the seven games since the team's only loss of the season on Sept. 27.

Like Monarch, Fairview has produced points at an often boggling pace. But while the Coyotes prefer to chew up yardage on the ground, the Anders Hill-led passing attack of the Fairview Knights has done the same through the air. Fairview survived a scare from league rival Pomona in the quarterfinals last week to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2009. But the Knights' prolific offense will face its biggest challenge of the season against a ThunderRidge defense that has surrendered more than 20 points only three times in 12 games.

Rest assured, the crew from will be certain to abide by the old adage of "No cheering in the pressbox."

That said, here's hoping the winter sports slate is put on the backburner at least one more week, and that we still will have to write about all three teams in advance of next week's state finals.



(1) Fairview (11-0) at (5) ThunderRidge (11-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m., Saturday, Shea Stadium.

Last week: Fairview defeated Pomona 35-24; ThunderRidge defeated Grandview 13-9.

Quick hits: The top-seeded Knights are aiming for their first title game berth since 2002 while pursuing the program's first title since 1987 ... QB Anders Hill leads the state with 3,321 passing yards and WR Sam Martin set the state's single-season receiving yards record by hauling in 10 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns last week. Martin heads into the semifinals with 1,604 receiving yards this season ... While Hill undoubtedly is known best for his cannon right arm, he has rushed for 200 yards on 38 carries during the past two games ... ThunderRidge QB Brody Westmoreland was unable to finish last week's semifinal win against Grandview after suffering a back injury on the third play of the game, but he is expected to play against the Knights. Grizzlies leading rusher Steve Ray also was hampered by injury against Grandview ... This will be Fairview's first game away from Recht Field since Oct. 18 ... ThunderRidge suffered its only loss of the season on Sept. 27, a 35-12 decision against Regis Jesuit ... The winner will play either sixth-seeded Cherokee Trail or second-seeded Valor Christian in the title game next week at Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High.

Rooney's read: Fairview by 7.



(3) Pine Creek (10-2) at (2) Monarch (10-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m., Saturday, Warrior Stadium.

Last week: Pine Creek defeated Windsor 25-0; Monarch defeated Loveland 42-8.

Quick hits: Monarch running back Ethan Marks has rushed for 332 yards and scored eight touchdowns in the opening two rounds of the tournament ... The winner will take on the Pueblo South-Montrose winner in the championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High ... Quarterback Jay MacIntyre has stayed busy. He's also served as the Coyotes kick returner, punt returner and sees significant action at cornerback ... Wingback/defensive back Logan Soole missed the quarterfinals because of a leg injury, but head coach Phil Bravo expects him to return for the semis ... The Coyotes have won seven straight and have outscored opponents 533-150 overall ... Pine Creek eliminated a previously unbeaten Monarch squad by a 20-0 tally in the semifinals two seasons ago ... Led by seniors Austin Schultz and Scotty Savage, the Eagles like to spread the carries around to several backs. Savage had two touchdowns in a 25-0 win against Windsor in the quarterfinals.

Rooney's read: Monarch by 8.



(9) Silver Creek (9-2) at (13) Delta (9-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m., Saturday, Delta High School.

Last week: Silver Creek defeated Pueblo East 34-17; Delta defeated Glenwood Springs 13-9.

Quick hits: The defending champion Raptors will attempt to secure their third consecutive berth in the 3A state title game ... Although Silver Creek recorded its sixth consecutive playoff victory, the Raptors will look to clean up aspects of its game that marred last week's win against Pueblo East. Silver Creek committed six penalties -- five occurred in the first half -- for a total of 60 yards and also committed two turnovers around midfield that spoiled potential scoring opportunities ... Silver Creek leading rusher Anthony Kasper returned to action last week after missing two games due to personal reasons and contributed a combined 63 rushing and receiving yards with three touchdowns ... Raptors senior QB Ben Sjobakken doesn't mind the postseason pressure. In six career playoff games, Sjobakken has gone 89 for 142 (62.7 percent) for 1,161 yards, 12 TDs, and only four interceptions ... Delta has not appeared in a football state championship game since 1961 ... The winner will play either sixth-seeded Coronado or seventh-seeded Classical Academy in the championship game next week.

Rooney's read: Silver Creek by 10.

Staff writer Paul Willis contributed to this report.

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