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10 things to look out for in high school sports in 2019-2020

Super talents and saavy teams top the list

Kyle Christiansen of Lyons celebrates a ...
Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer
Volleyball is one of nine fall sports that will get going before the end of August, commencing the 2019-20 high school sports season.

Arms will get loose and the blocking sleds will come out of the shed. Turn your head and you’ll see a little razzle dazzle with the soccer ball. A little more, and you’ll catch that perfect ace. And, ‘quick, look over there!’ … a group of runners in the distance.

Yes, it’s the fall sports scene, the official start of the high school sports calendar. And it’s back in one week.

Below, we wonder if the 2019-2020 school year will compare to last year when area teams won 11 championships and had 13 runner-up finishes. Not to mention all the coaching shakeups, the athlete milestones and drama-filled rivalry games.

Here’s 10 things we’re eagerly awaiting to see this school year.

Fairview throwing it far and wide

Senior receiver Henry Blackburn was complimentary of the team’s offensive line over the summer, going as far to say the Knights might even run the ball more this season.

A thought. More than likely a resounding “pass”, though, from all the fans of high-flying, record-breaking offenses.

With Northwestern-commit Aidan Atkinson in the pocket and Blackburn leading the receiving corps, it’s hard to imagine the two not getting plenty of airtime this fall.

Last season, Atkinson set the state’s single-season mark for most touchdown passes in a year with 55 and was fourth all-time in season passing yards per CHSAA records at 3,952. And if not for dislocating his thumb in the regular-season finale, the most passing-yards-in-a-season title would have been his, too.

Year two of Chase Silva

Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer
Skyline’s Chase Silva

The Skyline quarterback was so good filling in for injured-starter Nate McGregor last year that he retained the lead job even after McGregor returned.

By the time the year ended, he’d thrown for 2,829 yards and 30 touchdowns, leading the Falcons to an improbable run to the Class 4A state title game. He’ll return as perhaps the most exciting quarterback prospect in the area not named Atkinson.

Holy Family’s encore to softball title

Erin Caviness’ farewell to high school softball ended with a Class 4A championship, capping off a season in which she dominated on the mound with a 1.98 ERA and 177 strikeouts.

The Tigers won’t have her, which will hurt, but the team also showed plenty of younger talent that could come up big this fall.

Running with the Culpeppers  

Cruz Culpepper, the Niwot runner, dazzled during his junior season and even won the Class 4A state cross country title while dealing with a sinus infection. He’ll be back.

His dad and Olympian Alan Culpepper will also be around the high school running scene after taking over the Fairview cross country program. He inherits a team that finished fifth in boys and seventh in girls at last year’s state cross country meet.

Koonce and Centaurus basketball

Owen Koonce averaged 18.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game during his junior campaign, a production line that landed him player of the year honors. With the 6-foot-4 junior leading the way, the Warriors won more conference games than they had in the previous three years combined and pushed all the way into the state quarterfinals.

He’ll be on the short list of best players in the state this year.

Area teams looking to knock Lewis-Palmer off its volleyball throne

The volleyball scene was littered with talent last year, especially in Class 4A where Niwot got all the way to the state title game before bowing out to the Rangers.

In the 2018 tournament, L-P took down Longmont, although the Trojans stole a rare set from the Rangers, and then the Monument program went on to beat Holy Family and the Cougars. Mead and Silver Creek were also in the mix.

The Rangers have won the past three state titles, while dropping just one match in that span.

More Mallory Mooney magic

Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer
Broomfield’s Mallory Mooney

There wasn’t a more explosive girls soccer player in the area than the Broomfield star, who finished last spring with 22 goals and five assists.

Just a junior then, the wonders of her senior season awaits. In a teaser, Eagles coach Jim Davidson was interviewed for a story on Mooney claiming the player of the year and said he’ll likely push Mooney to be a little more selfish next year and score more.

Sophomore campaigns for Codevilla and Weber/senior campaigns for Irwin and Lewicki …

If Niwot’s Mary Codevilla and Fairview’s Emma Weber return to their respective teams this spring, and the next two springs after that, there will likely be a lot of gold at stake. One more round of Monarch’s Katey Lewicki and Erie’s Payten Irwin should will have plenty of championship implications, too.

All four swimmers claimed gold in individual events at the state meet last year. Best guess … there’s more to come.

A chance at history for Schalk

The Holy Family golfer won her third state title on her third attempt last spring, becoming only the third girls golfer to take three. Winning four has never been done in the sport.

Maybe history for Cornella, too

The Monarch wrestler won his second straight state title last year, finishing a season in which he didn’t lose to a wrestler from Colorado. Only halfway there, but Vince Cornella has the stuff to put his name on the 4-for-4 champions’ list.

Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Monarch’s Vince Cornella

What are we missing from this list? Another Boulder basketball-like turnaround in the works? Another Centaurus championship cross country team in training? A lot, probably. Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.