Clearly the Fairview Knights already are battle-tested, having reached the 2013 Class 5A title game and then putting together a second consecutive undefeated regular season in 2014 — a first in school history.
Nonetheless, the past two weeks have proven the Knights are more than ready for the pressure of the playoffs.
On the heels of two wild wins secured by a total of just three points, undefeated Fairview received a No. 2 seed when the 5A state tournament bracket was released Sunday. The Knights will begin their drive toward a second consecutive title game berth by hosting Castle View in the first round (date and time pending).
Monarch also squeaked into the field in its first season as a 5A program, earning the No. 7 seed in Quadrant 4 and a date at Regis Jesuit. Like Fairview, Legacy was assigned to Quadrant 3, receiving the No. 4 seed and a home game against Eaglecrest.
“We’re big on dealing with adversity and looking at what we need to overcome,” Fairview coach Tom McCartney said. “We knew it was going to be a challenge to have to go on the road the last two weeks of the season, and both times we watched leads disappear, unfortunately.
“But I’m so proud of these guys. We feel we’ve had a target on our back all year, as we figured we would, and we took everyone’s best shot and still managed to go undefeated.”
Fairview has won 21 of 22 games over the past two seasons, and while there certainly were a few nail-biters in the mix, few have caused the frayed nerves of the Knights’ past two games.
At Fossil Ridge on Oct. 17, the Knights withstood a furious rally by the hosts to escape with a 42-40 win. Those fireworks were trumped by an epic tilt this past Thursday, as a late Jason Harvey touchdown, followed by a gutsy Johnny Feauto-to-Steve D’Epagnier two-point conversion, kept Fairview undefeated with an epic 50-49 win.
If Fairview and Legacy each win their first two tournament games the teams would face each other in a quarterfinal round rematch, though Legacy likely would have to go through Quadrant 3 top seed Ralston Valley to get there.
Castle View enters the first round with a 4-5 mark but the Sabercats finished strong with three consecutive wins, including an impressive victory at Fountain-Fort Carson.
“We know Castle View has had a tremendous season,” McCartney said. “To beat Fountain-Fort Carson and then Chaparral to end the season, we know they think they are playing their best at the end of the season.”
Despite ending the regular season with losses to tournament entrants Legacy and Rocky Mountain, Monarch still finished at No. 32 in the final Wild Card rankings.
“The seeding committee made us a seven seed, which means were seeded from 25 to 28 — that’s not the story we want to write every year, but in the same breath I’m glad the committee acknowledged the schedule we played and the reputation of our program,” Monarch coach Phil Bravo said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to go down and play a great Regis program.”
In non-playoff action in 5A this week, Boulder will host Rock Canyon for its regular season finale.
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