NORTHERN LEAGUE OUTLOOK

This could be one of the toughest leagues in the entire classification, with five of the six teams in the loop receiving votes in the preseason CHSAANow.com rankings. Broomfield (No. 3) and Windsor (No. 4) are the early favorites, and those two open the conference slate against one another. If one of those two stumble, don't be surprised if perennial power Longmont, which is making the jump up from 3A, steps up into the void. Greeley West and Brighton will also be stout.

 

BROOMFIELD EAGLES

COACH: Blair Hubbard (Third year, 19-8 at Broomfield)

LAST YEAR: 8-5 overall, 4-1 4A Longs Peak League (lost 21-14 to Pueblo South in the 4A state semifinals)

RETURNING STARTERS: Steven Croell (Sr., QB,6-3,185); Dylan Torres (Sr., RB, 6-0, 180); Matt Foster (Sr., RB, 5-9, 160); Zach Zerr (Jr., TE/ILB, 5-11, 200); Tyler Carpenter (Jr., C, 6-2, 265); Ryan Capasso (Sr., OT/OLB, 6-4, 215); Troy Finnigan (Sr., CB, 5-9, 150); Matthew Eich (So., K, 5-8, 145).

OTHERS TO WATCH: Bryant Walker (Jr., OT, 6-1, 220); Mitchell Morales (Sr., WR).

COLLEGE PROSPECTS: Capasso, Croell.

MUST-SEE GAMES: Aug. 24 vs. Legacy; Aug. 30 at Loveland; Sept. 21 at Monarch; Oct. 5 at Windsor.


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STRENGTHS: The Eagles have experience on the offensive side of the ball led by quarterback Steven Croell, a third-year starter.

WEAKNESSES: The Eagles will need to replace a lot of depth on the offensive and defensive lines.

OUTLOOK: Broomfield started last year 2-4 before winning six in a row to reach the Class 4A state semifinals. There, they lost to eventual-champ Pueblo South, 21-14. The Eagles, who return a lot of experience in the skill positions on offense, hope to get off to a faster start in 2018. They should have a nice balance on offense with Croell throwing the ball and Torres running it. Defensively, "the strength will be at the linebacker position, inside and outside, led by returning starters Zach Zerr and Ryan Capasso," Hubbard said. The Eagles begin the year with city-rival Legacy looking to snap a five-game losing streak in the series.

 

* indicates league contest

Aug. 24 Legacy 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 at Loveland 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 7 Standley Lake 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Monarch 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Fort Collins 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Windsor* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Mountain View* 7 p.m.

Oct. 18 at Greeley West* 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Brighton* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Longmont* TBA

Home games at Elizabeth Kennedy Stadium

 

LONGMONT TROJANS

COACH: Doug Johnson (19th year, 137-68 record).

LAST YEAR: 9-4 overall, 5-0 in 3A Northern League. Lost 31-14 to Erie in semifinals of Class 3A state playoffs.

Longmont’s Drake Engelking.
Longmont's Drake Engelking. (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)

RETURNING STARTERS: Lathan Bunkers (Sr., OL, 6-2, 205); Oakley Dehning (Sr., QB, 5-10, 185); Jaydon Elkins (Sr., Z, 5-11, 175); Brayden Engelking (Jr., LB, 6-0, 180); Drake Engelking (Jr., RB, 5-11, 185); Beck Fieth (Sr., RB/WR, 5-10, 180); Cruz Garcia (Sr., RB, 5-10, 175); Bryce Rhode (Jr., OL/DL, 6-1, 275); Anthony Rodriguez (Sr., RB, 5-8, 170); Grant Rulon (Sr., DB, 5-11, 175); Matt Sprecher (Sr., LB/DB, 5-11, 185); Telvin Townsend (Sr., DL, 6-1, 300); Sage Yazzi (Jr., WR, 6-1, 175).

OTHERS TO WATCH: Elliott Delka (Jr., OL/DL, 6-2, 180); Chris Gumeson (Sr., DB, 5-10, 175); Nik Kasogue (Sr., DL, 5-11, 210); Devon Leach (Jr., OL/DL, 6-2, 180); Aiden Tank (Jr., OL/LB, 5-11, 185).

MUST-SEE GAMES: Aug. 30 at Pueblo East; Sept. 21 at Skyline; Sept. 28 at Silver Creek.

COLLEGE PROSPECTS: Dehning, Townsend, Elkins, Rulon, Drake Engelking.

STRENGTHS: Coach Johnson believes in the leadership core that exists in this year's senior class and in the experience the Trojans are returning, particularly on offense.

WEAKNESSES: The Trojans have some big holes to fill on the line of scrimmage, in the defensive secondary and just in general from all the things that standout linebacker Austin Hassler did for them last season.

OUTLOOK: After reaching the Class 3A semifinals last year, the Trojans are moving back up to 4A this fall. The 2018 graduating class for Longmont football wasn't a big one in terms of number, but it was huge in terms of talent so some of the younger Trojans have big shoes to fill. Senior quarterback Oakley Dehning returns as a three-year starter and will have some wide receivers with big-play ability to throw to and Drake Engelking is back at tailback after rushing for 1,1182 years and 17 touchdowns in 2017.

 

* indicates league contest

Aug. 30 at Pueblo East 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Fort Collins 7 p.m.

Sept. 15 Greeley Central TBA

Sept. 21 at Skyline 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Silver Creek 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Greeley West* 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 Windsor* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Brighton* 7 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Mountain View* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Broomfield* TBA

Home games at Everly-Montgomery Field

 

LONGS PEAK OUTLOOK

The league should be competitive week in and week out, with Loveland entering the season as the clear favorite. The Indians are ranked No. 2 to start the season, bringing back a loaded lineup including Zach Weinmaster (1,546 yards rushing) and defensive stud Trey Cardenas. But Loveland won't be able to waltz to the crown, as Skyline is looking to build on it's trip to the postseason last year, and Monarch is always tough to game plan for.

 

MONARCH COYOTES

COACH: Phil Bravo (21st year, 182-53 at Monarch)

LAST YEAR: 8-3 overall; 3-2 4A Northern League (lost 24-14 to Rampart in the first round of the 4A state playoffs)

RETURNING STARTERS: Jackson Bennett (Sr., TE, 6-2, 195); Davis Elliot (Sr., OT, 6-2, 220); Alex Waschak (Jr., OT, 6-7, 265); Logan McClung (Sr., OG, 5-11, 170); AJ Tennessen (Jr., OLB, 6-5, 205); Will Ponder (Sr., LB); Kevin Webb (Sr., DT, 6-1, 195).

OTHERS TO WATCH: Kyle Gordon (So., QB); Calvin Williams (Sr., DE, 5-9, 230); Tyler Lanphear (Sr., K).

COLLEGE PROSPECTS: Waschak.

MUST-SEE GAMES: Sept. 7 vs. Rampart; Sept. 21 vs. Broomfield.

STRENGTHS: Bravo has a strong offensive line led by Waschak, who could be a Division-I player in the near future.

WEAKNESSES: The Coyotes return only three defensive starters from last season.

OUTLOOK: The double-wing offense will go into high gear once again under Bravo, who is in his 33rd year as a high school football coach. Gordon takes over at quarterback and Waschak should lead the push in another pound-'em out season for Monarch. The Coyotes went 8-3 a year ago but lost in the first round to Rampart, a team they beat earlier in the regular season. They'll see if they can go deeper in 2018.

 

* indicates league contest

Aug. 23 at Dixie Hollins (Fla.) 3 p.m.

Sept. 7 Rampart 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Greeley West 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Broomfield 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 at Gateway 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 5 Loveland* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Skyline* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Fort Collins* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Silver Creek* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Greeley Central 7 p.m.

Home games at Spangenberg Field on the Centaurus campus

 

SILVER CREEK RAPTORS

COACH: Brian McGee (first year, 0-0 record).

LAST YEAR: 5-5 overall, 2-3 3A Northern League.

RETURNING STARTERS: Christian Adams (Sr., SS, 6-3, 215); Emir Bajiric (Sr., OL, 6-4, 225); Sam Dirks (Sr., DL, 6-3, 270); Coltan Grabau (Sr., K, 6-0, 185); Justin Kerr (Sr., CB/WR, 5-9, 145); Devin Lopez, (Sr., OL, 5-11, 208); Patrick Miller, (Sr., WR/DE, 6-4, 200); Trevor Ordway (Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 235); Jack Ranglos (Sr., OL/DL, 6-4, 200); Tommy Simmons (Sr., OLB, 6-2, 190); Logan Walker (Sr., OL/DL, 6-2, 270); Cole Riters (Jr., FS/WR, 6-0, 150); Michael Tomaszewski (Jr., LB/RB, 6-1, 176).

OTHERS TO WATCH: Carter Closson (Jr., QB, 6-2, 165); Caleb Dupre (Sr., ATH, 6-0, 175); Mason Goss (So., WR/CB, 5-11, 150); Dylan Johnson (SO, WR, 6-2, 160); Matthew Murphy (Sr., RB, 6-0, 165); Caleb Sedegan (Jr., DE/WR, 6-4, 205).

COLLEGE PROSPECTS: Adams, Dirks, Grabau, Miller, Simmons.

MUST-SEE GAMES: Sept. 28 at Longmont; Oct. 5 vs. Skyline.

STRENGTHS: The Raptors have a solid returning core both offensively and defensively, especially up front, and having 23 seniors on the roster will give Silver Creek a welcome veteran presence.

WEAKNESSES: After last season, the Raptors graduated some quality seniors at some key skill positions so how fast they can fill those spots will play a big role in their success this year.

OUTLOOK: Former assistant Brian McGee takes over as head coach following the departure of longtime coach Mike Apodaca during the offseason so there may be an adjustment period while the new coaching staff makes some changes. The Raptors have also yet to settle on a starting quarterback and have a number of productive skill-position players to replace from last season's .500 team. Likely to be a strength for Silver Creek in 2018, this defensive unit has a dangerous combination of experience and athleticism that could end up carrying the team.

 

* indicates league contest

Aug. 24 Thomas Jefferson 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 at Centaurus 7 p.m.

Sept. 13 Windsor 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Mountain View 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Longmont 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Skyline* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Greeley Central* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Loveland* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Monarch* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Fort Collins* 7 p.m.

Home games at Everly-Montgomery Field

 

SKYLINE FALCONS

COACH: Mike Silva (fourth year, 17-14 record)

LAST YEAR: 8-3 overall, 3-2 in Class 4A Northern League. Lost 61-22 to Chatfield in first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

RETURNING STARTERS: Skylar Balieres (Sr., SS, 5-8, 160); Dylan Bartels (Sr., DE, 6-2, 225); Nic Black (Sr., OL/DL, 5-8, 190); Ricky Childers (Sr., OL/DL, 6-1, 285); Andrew Dietz (Sr., WR, 6-2, 185); Isaac Hesse (Sr., OL/DL, 6-2, 225); Jeremy Hollingsworth (Sr., RB, 5-10, 205); Nate McGreggor (Sr., QB, 6-2, 190); Esteban Morado (Jr., C, 6-1, 165); Austin Robison (Jr., TE/DE, 6-5, 235); Creighton Trembly (Jr., S, 6-0, 170); Ricky Waters (Jr., LB, 5-11, 190); Jack Wathen (Sr., WR, 5-10, 175); Kyle West (Sr., WR, 5-9, 165).

OTHERS TO WATCH: Wesley Brinkerhoff (So., LB, 5-8, 170); Ethan Drewes (Sr., LB, 6-4, 240); Will Drewes (Jr., LB, 6-0, 220); Andrew Silance (Jr., C, 5-10, 165).

MUST-SEE GAMES: Sept. 21 vs. Longmont; Oct. 5 at Silver Creek.

COLLEGE PROSPECTS: Childers, E. Drewes, Hollingsworth, McGreggor, Wathen, West.

STRENGTHS: The Falcons expect to have above-average team speed and experience, and they return one of the best rushers in the state in Jeremy Hollingsworth.

WEAKNESSES: Though they figure to be tough at the top with a solid core of returning players, the Falcons lack depth across the board.

OUTLOOK: It can't be understated how much it meant to the Skyline football program when the Falcons reached the playoffs for the first time since 1999. That said, the Falcons didn't plan on last year's postseason berth being a flash in a pan and will look to prove it in 2018. With a solid core returning from last year's group and led by top-tier rusher Jeremy Hollingsworth, the Falcons appear to be in good shape to compete for a playoff spot again this fall.

 

* indicates league contest

Aug. 23 Westminster 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 Mead 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Brighton 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Longmont 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Holy Family* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Silver Creek* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Monarch* 7 p.m.

Oct. 18 Greeley Central* 7 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Fort Collins* 6 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Loveland* 7 p.m.

Home games at Everly-Montgomery Field

 

PIONEER LEAGUE OUTLOOK

At first glance this conference is a strange mix as it features teams from all over including Lafayette, Aurora, Westminster, Thornton and Fruita. And the six teams in the league went a combined 26-37 last season. Fruita Monument put together an undefeated regular season in 2017, only to be bounced out in the first round of the playoffs, and the Wildcats will carry that chip on their shoulder into the new year. Standley Lake will challenge, while there's plenty of room for the other conference teams to make a move up.

 

CENTAURUS WARRIORS

COACH: Andy Hampton (First year, 0-0).

LAST YEAR: 3-7 overall, 3-2 in the Class 3A Northern League.

RETURNING STARTERS: A.J. Corne (Sr., TE/DE, 6-2, 180); Ashur Cook (Sr., LB, 6-1, 180); Tim Disabito (Sr., OL/DL, 5-6, 170); Nick Faraca (Jr., QB, 5-11, 165); Taylor Herbstreit (Jr., RB/DB 5-10, 155); Andres Mendoza (Sr., WR, 5-9, 145); Anthony Montoya (Sr., WR/DB, 5-11, 165); Jason Tran (Sr., LB, 5-10, 205).

OTHERS TO WATCH: Andres Fontes, (Sr., WR/DB. 5-10, 155); Parker Heslin (Jr., OL/DL, 5-11, 260); Austin King (Sr., OL/DE. 6-2, 190); Kael Martela (Jr., OL/DL, 5-10, 245); Robbie Ridgley (Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 275); Jason Rivera (Sr., WR/DB, 5-7, 120); Christian Rubio (Jr., RB/SS, 5-9, 165).

COLLEGE PROSPECTS: Mendoza.

MUST-SEE GAMES: Sept. 28 vs. Heritage, Oct. 26 vs. Hinkley

STRENGTHS: With Faraca proving himself beyond imagination last year, the Warriors are confident in their passing attack once again. There's also depth in the defensive backfield.

WEAKNESSES: The line is young and there's just overall inexperience at linebacker.

OUTLOOK: The Warriors won their final three games last year, sending longtime coach Bob Carskie off on a high note. Hampton, who has been on staff for longer than a lot of head coaches in the area, will keep gunning it in the spread offense, but the hope is to find some creativity to balance things out with run support. They have optimism with their team speed and an unflappable quarterback leading the way, but controlling the line of scrimmage is a must. Said Hampton on playing in 4A: "Moving up is definitely a challenge, but the players, staff and community have embraced the opportunity. The players are motivated and looking forward to assisting in all facets of the game."

 

* indicates league contest

Aug. 30 Silver Creek 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 at Littleton 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Widefield 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Wheat Ridge 4 p.m.

Sept. 28 Heritage TBA

Oct. 6 Fruita Monument* 1 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Vista PEAK* 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Thornton* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Hinkley* TBA

Nov. 1 at Standley Lake* 6 p.m.

Home games at Spangenberg Field on the Centaurus campus