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Lindenstein: Silver Creek, Holy Family football meeting with plenty to prove

One team is aiming to show that it wasn’t a one-year wonder as one of Class 3A’s elite football teams last fall.

The other is a proud program looking to show that it is ready to once again be a big dog after moving up from Class 2A two seasons ago.

Both Silver Creek and Holy Family have plenty they’re trying to prove this season, and Friday night’s clash between the two — ranked third and fourth, respectively, in the Denver Post media and coaches poll — should offer a hint at least as to which team’s aspirations are within reach.

Holy Family and Silver Creek square off at 7 p.m. Friday at Everly-Montgomery Field in Longmont. Both teams have rolled to 3-0 records so far.

After graduating a large senior class full of playmakers that carried the team to a state runner-up finish last season, Silver Creek was tasked this fall with revamping. And all offseason the players’ motivation grew each time they heard the question from classmates, opponents and townsfolk: Will you still be any good in 2012?

“This team’s expectation has been about leaving their own mark,” SCHS coach Mike Apodaca said this week.

A season-opening helter-skelter trip to Nevada for a 19-13 overtime win over Fernley High helped galvanize the squad from the start, Apodaca said. And while much of the early going for the Raptors has been about finding the right roles for new contributors, they’ve managed blowout wins over Centaurus and Summit in the weeks since Fernley despite some growing pains and mistakes.

Quarterback Ben Sjobakken has filled in for Austin Apodaca — Mike’s son, who is now a freshman for Mike Leach-led Washington State — by throwing for 692 yards over the first three games, completing 69 percent of his passes. Josh Quiroz, meanwhile, has rushed for 265 yards, and Trey Fleming — a starter on defense a year ago — has helped keep the Raptors’ high-powered offensive attack rolling with a team-best 18 receptions and three scores.

The Raptors have allowed just 25 points.

“Now we’ve got to really challenge ourselves,” said Mike Apodaca, who knows his team will have to clean up some of the mistakes this week that it’s so far been able to get away with. “This is the right weekend to have it. We need to really find out where we’re at.

“I’m happy that they’ve developed the way they have.”

Holy Family should provide the test the Raptors are looking for.

The Tigers already own a come-from-behind win over rival Faith Christian in Week 1, a solid win over a talented D’Evelyn squad and a big win last week over Mead. Dual-threat quarterback David Sommers has thrown for 473 yards and rushed for 387 more, while running back Jarred Deherrera has sped his way to 580 yards and six scores rushing.

“Last year we got used to the speed (of Class 3A) a little bit and we just weren’t big enough to compete with a team like Windsor,” Holy Family coach Mike D. Gabriel said. “This year I think we got bigger, stronger and faster. So I think we’re on the verge of big things.”

Holy Family made the 2A playoffs every year from 2001-09, reaching the semifinals or better six times during the stretch and logging state titles in 2002 and 2005.

So missing the playoffs in 2010 in their first year of 3A competition left the Tigers with a bitter taste in their mouths. They went 8-3 last season and made the playoffs but were dispatched in the first round by Windsor, which went on to beat Silver Creek in the title game.

To a coaching staff that has had many of the same faces for a decade or more, Gabriel added a couple of positions to bring in new ideas and spread the workload around. He also made a point of reminding the Tigers of the program’s expectations, regardless of the level of play.

The players, many of whom saw older brothers or acquaintances win the 2005 title, have responded well, Gabriel said, once again putting their eyes on a title run.

“We’ve talked about finding our swagger again,” Gabriel said. “I think we’re getting there. We’re getting there.”

Follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshLindenstein