• Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Holy Family senior Kyle Helbig.

  • Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer

    Frederick quarterback Jacob Green.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Erie's Dion Lucero.




The race for the crown here is wide open, as there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the teams in the league. Mead enters the year ranked 7th, but the Mavericks have to reload after losing a tremendous senior class. Last year’s losing season doesn’t sit well at Holy Family, and the Tigers are anxious to return to the form that made them one of the top programs in the state. Skyview believes it has the talent to make a return trip to the postseason after recording nine wins in 2017. And don’t sleep on Frederick, either, as the Warriors just missed out on the playoffs last season.



COACH: Travis Peeples (second year, 6-4 record).

LAST YEAR: 6-4 overall, 2-3 Class 3A Tri-Valley League.

RETURNING STARTERS: Riley Buffington (Sr., TE, 6-5, 210); Dante Chiarvola (Sr., RB/DB, 6-0, 180); Michael Clementson (Jr., OL, 5-10, 225); Luke Dunker (Jr., P/K, 5-11, 210); Jacob Green (Jr., QB, 5-11, 180); Sean Holbrook (Jr., LB, 5-10, 185); Brandon Hornby (Jr., RB/DC, 5-10, 170); Joey Notaro (Jr., LB, 5-11, 200); Jackson Ramer (Jr., OL, 6-0, 210); Logan Robinson (Sr., DE, 6-1, 190); Dylan Sindilar (Jr., TE/DE, 6-3, 210).

OTHERS TO WATCH: Chris Cinocco (So., OL, 6-3, 230); Trey Odell (Jr., RB/DB, 5-9, 180).


MUST-SEE GAMES: Sept. 7 at Erie; Oct. 25 vs. Skyview; Nov. 2 vs. Mead.

STRENGTHS: With 125 kids in the program and higher-than-ever summer attendance, the Warriors expect to have a strong team in the weight room and plenty of speed and skill on the field.

WEAKNESSES: Though they figure to be strong and fast, the Warriors lack size at all positions and only have five total seniors on the roster this fall.

OUTLOOK: The Warriors had a breakthrough in 2017 and won six games, which was way more than they had won in any of the previous several seasons. Head coach Travis Peeples appears to have the program headed in the right direction and the Warriors’ ability to keep things headed in that direction will be tested in 2018. Frederick will be a young team and will have to replace last year’s top three rushing leaders but junior quarterback Jacob Green returns with another year of experience.


* indicates league contest

Aug. 24 Kennedy 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at Erie 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Weld Central 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 at Lincoln 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 Littleton 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Northfield* TBA

Oct. 12 at Holy Family* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Denver North* 7 p.m.

Oct. 25 Skyview* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Mead* 7 p.m.

Home games at Frederick High School



COACH: Mike Gabriel (11th year, 75-33 at Holy Family)

LAST YEAR: 4-6 overall, 0-5 3A Tri-Valley

RETURNING STARTERS: Kyle Helbig (Sr., WR/DE, 6-4, 225), Devin Doroff (Sr., WR, 6-2, 175), Davis Martinek (Sr., WR, 5-10, 142), Josh Baker (Sr., WR, 6-0, 150), Ben Nappe (Jr., WR/DB, 5-10, 140), Braedon Peters (Jr., WR, 5-10, 165), Trevin Johnson (So., RB, 5-8, 145), Hayden Strange (Jr., RB, 5-10, 165), Gavin Orbus (Sr., OL, 5-11, 180), Shawn Dean (Jr., OL, 6-3, 230), Matt Delgado (Sr., DL, 5-7), Sebastian Dalton (Sr., DL/DE, 6-0, 190), Johnny Russo (Sr., LB, 5-7, 145), Jake Alderman (Sr., DB, 5-10, 155).


MUST-SEE GAMES: Aug. 24 vs. Pueblo South; Sept. 28 vs. Skyline; Oct. 19 vs. Mead.

STRENGTHS: The Tigers have 15 returning starters and a “motivated young group of players,” Gabriel said.

WEAKNESSES: The uncertainty of coming off the program’s worst season under Gabriel.

OUTLOOK: Gabriel hopes his team can get back on track after he suffered his first losing season as the coach of Holy Family. “Our team goals are to win our league and make the state playoffs,” he said. Last year, the Tigers won four straight to open the year before sputtering to six straight losses. The season ended roughly as they lost their quarterback, Stone Samaras, to a season-ending injury on Sept. 28, finished 0-5 in league and missed the playoffs. The 15 returning starters should lead a motivated group in 2018. Helbig, listed at 6-4, 225 pounds, is a must-watch on both sides of the ball.


* indicates league contest

Aug. 24 Pueblo South 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Glenwood Springs 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Discovery Canyon 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Roosevelt* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Skyline 7 p.m.

Oct. 6 at Denver North* 2 p.m.

Oct. 12 Frederick* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Mead* 7 p.m.

Oct. 27 Northfield* 4 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Skyview* 7 p.m.

Home games at Mike G. Gabriel Stadium on Holy Family campus



COACH: Jason Klatt (seventh year, 42-23 record).

LAST YEAR: 11-1 overall, 5-0 3 Tri-Valley League. Lost 30-26 to Longmont in quarterfinals of the Class 3A state playoffs.

RETURNING STARTERS: Brennen Dibella Sr., OL, 6-7, 300); Preston Hall (Sr., OL, 6-1, 285); Nick Jacobs (Jr., WR/DB, 6-4, 185); Taylor Kamigaki (Sr., K, 5-10, 165); Tanner Leise (Sr., DE, 6-3, 215); Jay Olson (Sr., DE, 6-4, 220); Brady Veltien ( Jr., QB, 6-2, 200); Jake Wachter (Jr., RB, 5-10, 180); Eastin Willyard ( Sr., LB, 5-11, 190).

OTHERS TO WATCH: Ryan Bullock (Sr., RB, 5-9, 175); Hunter Payne (Sr., DB/WR, 5-11, 175).

COLLEGE PROSPECTS: Olson, Dibella, Hall, Leise.

MUST-SEE GAMES: Aug. 31 at Skyline; Sept. 28 vs. Erie.

STRENGTHS: With a pair of solid starters back to anchor the offensive and defensive lines, the Mavericks have some solid pieces up front as they attempt to fill holes left by graduation.

WEAKNESSES: The Mavericks graduated 27 seniors after last year so they will be young and inexperienced at many positions.

OUTLOOK: Last season was a wild ride for the Mavericks, who reached the Class 3A state quarterfinals. They did, however, graduate a ton of talent from last year’s team so it will take a lot of new faces stepping into bigger roles for this Mead program to continue the upward trajectory it has been on over the past several seasons. The loss of key offensive contributors like Tyler Keys, Nathan Mackey and Derek Edwards from last season will be difficult to overcome, but coach Klatt and the Mavericks seem to have become adept at reloading and retooling with each new season.


* indicates league contest

Aug. 24 Lewis-Palmer 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Skyline 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at Evergreen 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Roosevelt 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Erie 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Skyview* 7 p.m.

Oct. 13 at Northfield* 2 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Holy Family* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Denver North* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Frederick* 7 p.m.

Home games at Mead High


Heading into the season, this conference appears top heavy as No. 2 Erie and No. 6 Roosevelt are clear favorites. The Tigers are hungry after reaching the state title game last season, and are geared up for another run. The Roughriders will push Erie, and Fort Morgan can be a darkhorse. Northridge, Niwot and Thompson Valley combined for two wins last season, with Northridge picking up both victories.



COACH: Chad Cooper (third year, 17-8 record).

LAST YEAR: 11-3 overall, 3-2 Class 3A Tri-Valley League. Lost 46-21 to Palmer Ridge in the Class 3A state title game.

RETURNING STARTERS: Colby Arlington (Jr., OL, 6-0, 225); Spencer Brooks (Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 235); Julian Custine (Sr., K/P, 5-9, 160); Tyler Gardner., RB/WR/OLB, 5-9, 180); Nate Hackney (Sr., OL/DL, 6-1, 245); Isaac Khanna (Sr., WR, 5-10, 155); Dion Lucero (Jr., QB, 5-10, 165); Ian McDonald (Sr., FB/LB, 5-11, 185); Jaymeson Nelms (Sr., TE/DL, 6-4, 215); Eddie Pena (Sr. WR/CB, 5-9, 165); Noah Roper (Sr., RB/OLB, 6-1, 185); Auguson Saless (Sr., WR/DB, 5-11, 170); Ian Vera (Jr., LB., 6-0, 180).

OTHERS TO WATCH: Josh Bradford (Jr., TE/OLB, 6-1, 195); Tab Cire (Jr., (OL/OLB, 5-11, 185); David Grassi (Jr., OL/DL, 5-9, 215).

COLLEGE PROSPECTS: Roper, Custine, Hackney, Brooks, Nelms.

MUST-SEE GAMES: Sept. 28 at Mead; Oct. 19 vs. Roosevelt; Nov. 2 at Fort Morgan.

STRENGTHS: Roper and the offensive rushing attack. Relied heavily on a talented offensive line and rushing attack to make it to the state championship and should have a talented, deep group up front on defense.

WEAKNESSES: Need to develop a passing game to take the load off Roper and the run game and becoming more balanced will be key in order to return to a state title game.

OUTLOOK: The Tigers made it all the way to the Class 3A state championship game and don’t plan to settle for anything less than returning to the title game. In the program’s third season under Chad Cooper, the Tigers have all the momentum in their favor and plan to ride it as far as it will take them. Two-way standout Noah Roper returns to lead the team at both tailback and safety, but building a deeper and more balanced team around him will be a primary focus this season.

* indicates league contest

Aug. 24 at Evergreen 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Pueblo South 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Frederick 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Canon City 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Mead 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 at Northridge* 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 Niwot* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Roosevelt* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Thompson Valley* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Fort Morgan* 7 p.m.

Home games at Tigers Stadium on the Erie campus



COACH: Jeremy Lanter (second year, 0-10 at Niwot)

LAST YEAR: 0-10 overall, 0-5 4A Longs Peak League

RETURNING STARTERS: Jonathan Colon (Sr., WR, 6-0, 170); Matt Bitterman (Jr., WR/DB, 5-8, 135); Blake Bair (Jr., WR/LB, 6-3, 185); Zachary Coblentz (Jr., OL/DL, 5-10, 180); Liam Flanagan (Jr., RB/DB, 5-8, 140); Jovani Lopez (Jr., OL, 6-1, 239); Eric Ruiz (Jr., LB/RB, 5-11, 210).

OTHERS TO WATCH: Ayden Bartko (So., QB, 6-4, 180); Daemonte Terry (Sr., RB/LB, 5-10, 155).

MUST-SEE GAMES: Aug. 30 vs. Greeley Central.

STRENGTHS: The Cougars should be more competitive as they drop down to the 3A classification.

WEAKNESSES: The Cougars have a long way to go as a program after nine consecutive losing seasons.

OUTLOOK: Lanter goes into his second year looking to turn around a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2008. He’s optimistic: “We have had a great summer turnout and have come a long way as a program. We hope to be competitive in a very tough conference.” The Cougars begin the year with George Washington and Greeley Central, two teams that went 2-8 in 2017. It could be as good of a chance as any to break their winless streak.


* indicates league contest

Aug. 24 at George Washington 4 p.m.

Aug. 30 Greeley Central 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at Fort Lupton 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Littleton 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Eagle Valley 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 Thompson Valley* 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 at Erie* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Northridge* 7 p.m.

Oct. 25 Fort Morgan* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Roosevelt* 7 p.m.

Home games at Everly-Montgomery Field