David R. Jennings
Silver Creek’s Todd Millard, seen here in action in August, is one of several state title contenders for the Raptors.

LONGMONT — When the level of competition ramps up, sometimes veterans of the big stage like the Silver Creek boys golf players do their best to slow things down.

The Raptors have been legitimate title contenders, even favorites, at the past few state tournaments. They are again in 2013, and the Raptors are sticking to the routine the earned them third-place in 2012 and the Class 4A team title in 2011.

“We’re just trying to go into the state tournament loose,” senior Todd Millard said. “We’ve been preparing for it and working hard practicing the last couple weeks. We’ve just got to not think about too many things, go up there and just play.”

Helping to loosen them up, their season blueprint has the Raptors peaking at the end of the season as planned. They also boast a lineup full of veteran experience and young talent.

Millard won the 4A Northern Regional last week at The Olde Course at Loveland. Fellow senior Andrew Rademacher-Howe won a regional title a year ago and took 11th-place in last year’s state tournament at The Links at Cobble Creek in Montrose. Raptors freshman Jackson Solem won the overall Northern Conference title for the 2013 season and senior Dalton Haase has been right with them all along.

The Raptors ended the regular season ranked fourth in the weekly CHSAA poll. Their top competition for the team title will be Valor Christian, which ended the regular season ranked No. 1. Defending champion Pueblo South (No. 2) and third-ranked Cheyenne Mountain should be just as tough to beat.

Defending individual champion Jacob Allenback from Pueblo Centennial graduated, so the Raptors won’t have to compete with him. But Raptors head coach Mike Maydew said a deeper field has filled the void left by last year’s champ.

“There’s probably a little bit more depth in competition as far as the teams go this year,” Maydew said. “But we’re really not doing anything different than what we’ve done in the past as far as preparation. We’re just working on the things that the golf course is going to demand this year.”

On top of a deep field, Maydew said the Raptors face a tough challenge in the course at Hiwan Golf Club in Evergreen. Though Hiwan is not a particularly long course, Maydew said the fairways are tight and their primary concern is the greens and placing shots below the pin. Maydew said scores likely will come down to putting and navigating and undulations on the severely-sloped greens.

The Raptors got their first look at Hiwan Golf Club last week. They will get to play another practice round when they go up Sunday morning before the two-day tournament begins Monday.

Maydew said the Raptors feel they have at minimum three players who could compete for the individual title. But, he added, the team goal remains prominent.

“We’ve got as good a chance as everybody,” Maydew said. “We’ve got to focus on ourselves and not the other teams. If we can do that, we’re as good as anyone who will be playing.”

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