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Lindenstein: Last six football squads standing have overcome plenty of obstacles

Call them the Survivor Six.

Of the 18 prep football teams, six are all that remain standing as we enter Week 11. And all have one major attribute in common.

While none of the six owns world-beater 10-0 credentials, all have overcome bumps in the road with the kind of success that should make each plenty dangerous as postseason action heats up.

Below is a quick glance at each as they get ready for the first round of the Class 3A and 4A playoffs this week, and what they’ve overcome to get to this point.

FREDERICK — Life was good for the Warriors entering the season. They were coming off of their best season ever and were ranked first in the state in Class 3A. Then they lost two of their first five games, including a 24-0 defeat to Silver Creek. To make matters worse, they lost their best all-around player, linebacker KC Rivera, to injury against SCHS and haven’t had him back since.

But all the Warriors (8-2) have done since is win five games in a row and allow fewer than seven points per game during that stretch. The gritty squad has climbed back up to the No. 3 seed entering the playoffs and is looking like the title contender we thought they were when the season began.

ERIE — Did someone say something about losing their best player? The Tigers were 4-0 and leading a tough Northridge squad at halftime when leading rusher Ryne Atkins saw his season end in the third quarter due to an ankle injury. EHS lost that game and then the next two after that to Frederick and Holy Family, putting their playoff hopes in serious question.

But the Tigers (7-3) pulled it together and reeled off three straight wins in a row to finish the regular season, all blowouts. Now the Tigers will have to see if their grit and intestinal fortitude will be enough to put a chink in the armor of 3A No. 1 Rifle this weekend.

HOLY FAMILY — Win three, lose one, win three, lose one. The Tigers have now won two in a row, so their pattern suggests that they should be sticking around for Week 12. The Tigers have fallen against their two toughest foes this season, but both times have bounced back. They’ve also shown plenty of guts in crunch time.

They topped Faith Christian on a late field goal in Week 1. A late touchdown drive thwarted an upset attempt by Thomas Jefferson. And a stuffed two-point conversion in overtime preserved a 43-42 victory over Erie. If you’re going to beat HFHS (8-2), better do it early in the game.

SILVER CREEK — Few thought the Raptors would be able to duplicate last year’s run to the 3A title game. Then SCHS blasted out of the gates to a 6-0 start. But an upset loss to Skyline followed by a loss to Roosevelt left the Raptors re-evaluating their approach to games. Could they find their swagger again?

The (8-2) Raptors rebounded from the two losses to rout Mead and Berthoud by a combined 83-13. And they enter the playoffs with a balanced attack that has won games both by passing and running the football, a nice trait to have in the postseason against tough defenses and fickle weather.

MONARCH — The Coyotes haven’t suffered any of the crippling injuries some of their peers here have. Nor have they found themselves mired in a losing streak. But they did suffer the kind of loss that will make a team’s stomach turn for the rest of the year. Three fumbles inside Wheat Ridge’s 20-yard line cost them in an early-season 1 vs. 2 showdown.

MHS (9-1) has been on a mission ever since, using that loss as motivation. The Coyotes might be just the fifth seed in 4A. But it says here that they’re one of the top two title contenders along with No. 2 Ponderosa.

BROOMFIELD — Injuries have plagued the Eagles all season. Star lineman and Army recruit Andrew McLean was lost for the season. Multiple running backs and quarterbacks have been in and out of the lineup. Add to that the one-week administrative leave for coach Gary Davies for unknown reasons, and it all added up to an embarrassing blowout loss to Monarch for the then top-ranked Eagles.

The Eagles (8-2), though, got back on track a week ago with a 56-0 thrashing of Golden, and they’ll no doubt be licking their chops to knock off 2011 3A champ Windsor in the first round of the 4A playoffs.

Follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshLindenstein

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