One needed only witness the celebration on Everly-Montgomery Field two years ago when Skyline topped Niwot in football for the first time since 2001 to know what the cross-town rivalry means to the two schools.
Niwot players walked away stunned, while the Skyline Falcons were floating. The Cougars exacted revenge last season, and it no doubt felt sweet.
But if there was ever a matchup between the two where both badly needed a victory for far more than just bragging rights, it could be this year’s.
The two old foes face the unique circumstance of opening their seasons against each other with a 7 p.m. Friday showdown at Everly-Montgomery Field.
For two programs that have struggled mightily in recent seasons, the good vibes from a rivalry victory in Week 1 could go a long way in shaping either team’s mentality in the attempt to turn things around.
First-year Niwot coach Josh Brewer might be new to the local scene, but he knows how important a good start is to changing attitudes in a down program.
“To give them the feel of a win is huge,” Brewer said Wednesday. “For both programs trying to turn things around, the benefit will go to the team that gets that first win and hopefully a second win and gets used to winning.”
Skyline went 1-9 a year ago, while Niwot was 2-8.
But there’s reason for optimism at both programs as both return experienced quarterbacks in Garret Angstead (Skyline) and Nate Merriman (Niwot) to lead talented sets of skill-position players.
So no doubt both teams will enter the game believing they can win.
The only question is which one will walk away with a nice early dose of affirmation for the building process ahead.
Follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshLindenstein
Fairview (0-0) at Poudre (0-0)
Kickoff: 6 p.m., French Field.
Last year: Fairview 6-5, reached 5A playoffs second round; Poudre 2-8.
Quick hits: This is the first look at new-look Fairview after the Knights graduated 32 seniors. … FHS quarterback Anders Hill will miss at least the first game with a broken ankle, but the Knights feature lots of speed that they’re banking on to keep the chains moving. … Poudre is a proud program that has fallen on tough times in recent years, but is being led by new head coach Dan Reardon, who coached a successful Ursuline program in Youngstown, Ohio.
Lindenstein’s line: Fairview by 8.
Ralston Valley (1-0) at Longmont (0-0)
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m., Everly-Montgomery Field.
Last year: Longmont 11-1, reached 4A quarterfinals; Ralston Valley 10-2, reached 5A quarterfinals.
Quick hits: Longmont has reached at least the quarterfinals three years in a row now and appears to have a title-contending team again. … Both lines return intact, and Forrest Wetterstrom is a three-year starter at quarterback. … Ralston Valley is a tough, physical bunch led by monstrous offensive tackle Dan Skipper (6-10, 280), who is committed to Tennessee. … The Mustangs opened last week with a win over Timber Creek (Fla.).
Lindenstein’s line: Ralston Valley by 3.
George Washington (0-0) at Boulder (0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., Recht Field.
Last year: Boulder 4-6; George Washington 3-7
Quick hits: Boulder tries to make it three straight in season openers vs. GW. The Panthers beat the Patriots 40-16 two years ago and 33-12 last season. … The Panthers plan to open up their offense with new quarterback T.J. Patterson — a transfer from Fairview — at the helm. … BHS needs a strong start to the season with another nasty league slate looming.
Lindenstein’s line: Boulder by 18.
Legacy (0-0) at Bear Creek (0-0)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., Jefferson County Stadium.
Last year: Legacy 4-6, reached first round of 5A playoffs; Bear Creek 7-4, reached second round of 5A playoffs.
Quick hits: Running back Phydell Paris returns for Legacy after an injury midseason cost the Lightning one of their top playmakers. How he performs will likely be key in LHS’ attempt to climb the North Metro League ladder. … Bear Creek begins the season without former longtime coach Tom Thenell, who took the job at Mullen in the offseason.
Lindenstein’s line: Legacy by 2.
Broomfield (0-0) at Pomona (0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., North Area Athletic Complex.
Last year: Broomfield 9-3, reached 4A quarterfinals; Pomona 11-2, reached 5A semifinals.
Quick hits: Gary Davies begins his 25th season as Broomfield head coach with a marquee matchup against one of Class 5A’s perennial powers. … Pomona boasts a high-powered attack led by quarterback Alec Feland, who threw for more than 2,200 yards last season. … The Eagles figure to contend for the 4A title but their schedule is nasty to start, with 5A foe Legacy and former Northern League rival Loveland up next.
Lindenstein’s line: Pomona by 5.
Greeley West (0-0) at Monarch (0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., Warrior Stadium.
Last year: Monarch 12-1, reached 4A semifinals; Greeley West 8-4, reached 4A quarterfinals.
Quick hits: Two of 4A’s perennial contenders collide once again, with Monarch having rolled over Greeley West in each of the past two seasons. … An experienced Monarch squad begins year ranked first in the Denver Post media and coaches poll. … But Greeley West returns plenty itself and will no doubt be smarting from the last two years’ losses to the Coyotes.
Lindenstein’s line: Monarch by 9.
Skyline (0-0) vs. Niwot (0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., Everly-Montgomery Field.
Last year: Skyline 1-9; Niwot 2-8.
Quick hits: See related story.
Lindenstein’s line: Skyline by 3.
Elizabeth (0-0) at Frederick (0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: Frederick 9-4, reached 3A semifinals; Elizabeth 5-5.
Quick hits: Frederick shocked the state last year in Class 3A, knocking off No. 1 Canon City in the first round of the playoffs and then reaching the semis. The Warriors will sneak up on no one this year as they begin the fall ranked No. 1 in the Denver Post media and coaches poll. … Elizabeth is trying to bounce back from a tough 2011 season after winning state in 2010.
Lindenstein’s line: Frederick by 10.
Holy Family (0-0) at Faith Christian (0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: Holy Family 8-3, reached first round of 3A playoffs; Faith Christian 9-3, reached 2A quarterfinals.
Quick hits: One of the state’s fiercer small-school rivalries resumes after a two-year hiatus. … Holy Family believes it has the tools to make some noise in 3A in its third year in the classification. … Speed will be key for the undersized Tigers.
Lindenstein’s line: Holy Family by 4.
Mead (0-0) at Valley (0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: Mead 2-8; Valley 6-4.
Quick hits: After being drubbed by Valley in its varsity competition debut in 2010, Mead opened the season with a tough 7-0 loss to Valley. So the Mavericks will no doubt be looking for some revenge to get new coach Jason Klatt’s career off to a solid start. … Mead moves up to 3A this season, while Valley remains in 2A.
Lindenstein’s line: Mead by 1.
Mitchell (0-0) at Erie (0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: Erie 4-6; Mitchell 2-8.
Quick hits: After a playoff run two years ago in their 3A debut season, the Erie Tigers are looking to return to the postseason despite playing in a tough 3A Northern League with the likes of Frederick, Holy Family, Centaurus and Thomas Jefferson. A quick start is possible and necessary for EHS.
Lindenstein’s line: Erie by 14.
Ellicott (0-0) at Lyons (0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., Jet Johnson Field.
Last year: Lyons 10-2, reached 1A semifinals; Ellicott 2-7.
Quick hits: New Lyons coach Brandon Wilkes makes his debut and will try to keep alive the winning tradition left by longtime former coach John Nichols. … The Lions face some question marks after losing some key graduated seniors, but are still a 1A Metro favorite.
Lindenstein’s line: Lyons by 19.
Longmont Christian (0-0) at Haxtun (0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: Longmont Christian 2-6; Haxtun 7-3, reached first round of 8-man playoffs.
Quick hits: Longmont Christian leaves the nasty 8-man North Conference Plains Division, but begins the season with a familiar former foe. … Haxtun topped LCHS 40-12 last fall on its way to the postseason. … After canceling last week’s opener due to a lack of eligible players, Longmont Christian should be ready to go this week with a solid class of eight seniors leading the way.
Lindenstein’s line: Haxtun by 13.
Conifer (1-0) at Centaurus (0-0)
Kickoff: Noon, Warrior Stadium.
Last year: Centaurus 4-6; Conifer 6-4.
Quick hits: Rare has been a missed playoffs season at Centaurus under coach Chad Senseney, so don’t expect the Warriors to be down long. … Returning quarterback David Shald took his lumps last season but should have the Warriors holding their own in a tough 3A Northern League. … Conifer opened with a 42-19 victory over Glenwood Springs last week.
Lindenstein’s line: Centaurus by 3.
KIPP (0-0) at Nederland (0-1)
Kickoff: 4 p.m.
Last year: Nederland 2-7; KIPP Denver Collegiate playing its first varsity season.
Quick hits: Nederland suffered a tough loss in its opener last week at Cornerstone Christian after playing a close game early. … The Panthers have a great chance to bounce back here against a fledgling program they beat 41-6 last season. … Win and the Panthers carry some nice momentum into a bye week, where they can get prepped for league play.
Lindenstein’s line: Nederland by 26.