Football: Erie won’t let surprising seed hinder goals

Brad Cochi/
The Erie Tigers (EHS’ Ethan Johnson pictured at center) finished the regular season 10-0 and earned the No. 3 seed in the Class 3A playoffs, which begin Friday night at stadiums around the state. Erie will host No. 14 Durango on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Erie football team had a pretty good idea that there was a good chance the Tigers wouldn’t be selected as the top overall seed when the Class 3A postseason brackets were released on Sunday.

But there was still a chance for the Tigers, whose resume included an undefeated record, a North Valley League title and the No. 1 ranking in the poll. So when the brackets came out and the Tigers found themselves listed not even as the No. 2 seed but as the No. 3 seed, they were quite surprised.

Palisade was awarded the No. 1 spot and the difference between the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds is relatively minimal. However, it does mean that were the bracket to play out according to seed, the Tigers would have to travel to play No. 2 Pueblo East in the semifinals instead of hosting the game at their own stadium.

“Things don’t always work out with the top seeds always winning,” Tigers head coach Chad Cooper said. “Were we disappointed not to get the two seed? A little bit. But we are still excited to have the three seed and to host Durango. Did we think we were deserving of the two seed? Sure. But things don’t always play out according to seed. Look at last season. Mead was number one and Longmont beat them in the quarterfinals, so a lot can change between now and then.

“I don’t want to harp on it and I don’t want my kids harping on it. We get to host in the first round and let’s just see how things turn out before we assume anything about where games are going to be played in a few weeks.”

The Tigers finished the season one spot ahead of Pueblo East in the 3A RPI standings but were 17th in terms of strength of schedule while Pueblo East was third, which may have been the differentiating criteria in which the football seeding committee decided to seed Erie behind Pueblo East. Whatever happens in the next several weeks, Cooper understandably isn’t overvaluing any seeding decisions since his team reached the state title game as the No. 5 seed last fall.

With this year’s 3A state championship game being held at CSU-Pueblo on Dec. 1, the Tigers may end up making two trips to Pueblo if they can play their way by back to the big game. They will open the playoffs at home against Durango, in a rematch of a 2017 quarterfinals game that Erie won 35-28 with a late touchdown.

Elsewhere in the 3A bracket, No. 9 Mead will host No. 8 Evergreen despite being the lower seed because the Mavericks won their league and Evergreen did not. Frederick is back in the postseason for the first time since 2012 as the No. 10 seed after narrowly missing out on the playoffs last year. Holy Family enters the playoffs as the No. 12 seed.

In Class 4A, Broomfield claimed the No. 4 seed after finishing the regular season with a 72-50 win over Longmont. That same Longmont team is the No. 12 seed after moving back up to 4A following a 2017 season in which the Trojans lost to Erie in the 3A semifinals.

At No. 9, Skyline is back in the 4A playoffs as well. The Falcons reached the playoffs last season for the first time since 1999.

Local first-round matchups

Class 3A

(8) Evergreen at (9) Mead, Saturday, 1 p.m.

(12) Holy Family at (5) Harrison, Friday, 7 p.m.

(14) Durango at (3) Erie, Saturday, 1 p.m.

(10) Frederick at (7) Discovery Canyon, Saturday, 1 p.m.

Class 4A

(9) Skyline at (8) Pueblo West, Saturday, 1 p.m.

(13) Chatfield at (4) Broomfield, Saturday, 1 p.m.

(12) Longmont at (5) Ponderosa, Saturday, 1 p.m.

Brad Cochi: or