League and team outlook
FRONT RANGE LEAGUE
Teams and trends: Boulder, Broomfield, Fairview, Fort Collins, Fossil Ridge, Greeley West, Horizon, Legacy, Monarch, Mountain Range, Poudre and Rocky Mountain. Fairview won last year’s league title, going 11-0, which is no small feat in perhaps the deepest and most talented league in the state. Teams in the FRL won four straight state titles before Arapahoe snapped the streak last season. FRL teams are responsible for 12 of the last 20 semifinalists.
2018 league leaders: Boulder’s Jesse Bacardi (graduated), Rocky Mountain’s Aaron Biggerstaff (graduated) and Fairview’s Cooper Harmon (graduated) each had 15 goals; Fort Collins’ Anthony Priest (graduated) had 40 points; Fort Collins’ Alec Fronapfel (graduated), Boulder’s Sam Phillips and Priest each had 14 assists; Horizon’s Wesley Gowdy had 194 saves, while Fairview’s Carter Melton had a .086 goals against average.
Numbers game: Boulder scored a league-best 63 goals over the year, while Fairview held opponents to just five goals.
Coach: Hardy Kalisher
The Scorecard: It seems like every year the Panthers come into the fall season with some national recognition bestowed upon them. Not this year, though … kidding. Kalisher’s team saw its run last year come to an against Grandview in a cold and wet state semifinal game in Parker, and yet the Panthers still finished the year ranked as the 25th best team in the nation per MaxPreps. They come into 2019 nationally ranked by TopDrawerSoccer.com, seeding No. 2 in the Far West region. At first glance, Omar Castruita, the All-American, is gone. He graduated after putting together one of the best soccer careers the area has ever seen. But the Panthers have a strong returning core that includes Sam Phillips, 5A’s assist leader among projected returning players, and all-region defender Micah Blackburn. Other players to keep on eye on include Issac Sherman, Bishal Ellison, Curran English, Brian Ordaz and Arrol Taekla.
Coach: Jim Davidson
The Scorecard: “Optimistic and unknown”: The two words the longtime Eagles coach used to characterize his team’s 2019 outlook. Looking back, the Eagles struggled at times during the regular season last fall — i.e., losing four times in five games late in September to October — but, per usual, they turned it on during another postseason run. As the 13 seed, Davidson’s group rattled off three straight wins before bowing out to eventual-state champ Arapahoe in semifinals PKs. Now, the Eagles will be led by what Davidson calls a “small but capable” senior class. The group will have to fill the shoes of last year’s upper-class, a group that included all-state defender Andres Ocampo and all-region player Tanner Smith. One player who could help lead the way will be midfielder and captain Andrew Boettcher, but Davidson said he’s coming off knee surgery and will be out for a while. In goal, Jack Stoecker, a Santa Clara commit who split time with Kaden Carson last year, should help the back end.
Coach: Eric Schuler
The Scorecard: Fairview won 17 straight last fall before getting clipped by Arapahoe in the state quarterfinals. Under Jeff Frykholm, the Knights were deep and talented at a number of positions, including at forward where they had all-region player Cooper Harmon, and at midfield where they were led by BoCoPreps.com player of the year Sajji Singh. At goalie they had a number of quality keepers as well, led by then-junior Carter Melton, who allowed one goal and had 43 saves in 951 minutes in goal. The Knights will be tested early with Holy Family, Southern Colorado power Pine Creek and Legacy on the schedule early. Schuler could not be reached but is listed as the successor to Frykholm, per the school’s site.
Coach: Tony Romano
The Scorecard: Legacy is coming off a record-setting 2018 season, which included winning its most games in program history, reaching its first state quarterfinal and beating rival Broomfield for the first time. The encore should be exciting. Romano’s crew graduated eight seniors from its varsity group, including all-region players Noah Stover and Ben Tuka. On the plus side, though, it’s bringing back a core that includes 10 returning seniors and 13 overall, including its 2018 leading scorer in Blake Hansen and 2017 leading scorer in Joey Joiner. Romano said his team is optimistic, and although they hadn’t yet spoken about team goals as of early last week, he was sure the bar would be set high.
Coach: Kyle Reddy
The Scorecard: Reddy comes over from Broomfield, where he was an assistant coach under Jim Davidson and the team’s JV coach since 2016. Taking over for Balen Arenas, whose team went 5-10 in 2018 and 2-9 in league, the new coach is taking his new gig in stride. The “transition process this summer has been a challenge, but we have made numerous steps to bounce back and turn this program around,” he said. “We look to be a top soccer program to be reckoned with in this tough and quality Front Range League, as well as the state. Though this is a rebuilding process, spirits are high, intensity is high, and commitment is high.” Players to keep an eye out for include midfielder/forward Sullivan Adams, attacking mid Nate Bricker, keeper Carter Watson and defender Noah Hubbard.
5A/4A/3A TRI-VALLEY LEAGUE
Teams and trends: Berthoud, Erie, Fort Morgan, Frederick, Holy Family, Loveland, Roosevelt, Skyline and Windsor. Skyline has won the league title in five of the past six years.
2018 league leaders: Skyline’s Nathan Wanninger (graduated) led in the top three offensive categories with 25 goals, nine assists and 59 points; Berthoud’s Kade Dorsey (graduated) had 152 saves.
Numbers game: Skyline and Holy Family were ranked in the top 10 in Class 4A in goals allowed with the Falcons giving up 14 in 18 games and the Tigers allowing 17 in 17.
Coach: Jeff Vigil
The Scorecard: The Tigers gave up the third fewest goals over the 2018 season among teams in the Tri-Valley League, allowing only 24 in 15 games. On the other hand, though, they also had the third fewest goals scored in the league with just 26, a key factor to their 5-8-2 record. Patrick Cummings, who led the team with five goals in 2018, graduated. Grady Wolver and Samuel Fulk after each had three goals last season, will return, as will Evan Huston, who showed some nice flashes as a freshman with two goals and three assists. “We had a number of players have strong club seasons in the spring and we just completed our best summer workouts in the three years I’ve been at Erie,” Vigil said. “I’m hoping this helps us bounce back from a tough season last fall. Spirits are high amongst the boys and I’m excited to see how this team comes together.”
Coach: J Doehring
The Scorecard: Zane Doehring will return as the team’s 2018 points leader after he had 13 goals and five assists in his freshman debut. If the Warriors can improve on their 5-8-2 record from a year ago, they will need Doehring to take another step forward, as well as others. The sixth-year coach pointed to the improvements he’s seen from goalie Calvin Vang, who in 2018 had 56 saves and allowed 18 goals. He also noted defender Wyatt Schroth, who returns as the second-leading points getter from last season when he had five goals and an assist. “We are hoping to improve from last season,” the coach said. “We felt like we were in all of the games last year but struggled to come out with victories.”
Holy Family Tigers
Coach: David Martinez
The Scorecard: Goalie Liam Burns marveled last fall, showing off his range in net to go along with his big-play ability in crunch time. He helped the Tigers dominate in league where they finished an identical 7-0-1 with Skyline, but Burns missed the second round of the state playoffs — a shootout loss to The Classical Academy — due to injury. Martinez said Burns is back and “ready to make an impact immediately this season.” Joining Burns is Dylan McIntosh, who scored the team’s overtime winner in the opening round state game against Evergreen. Alex Troso, the starting center back for the team last year, should lead a strong backline. Isaac Rupprecht will be transitioning from forward to midfield to help with balance and Cole Greany is expected to have a bigger scoring role.
Coach: Luis Chavez
The Scorecard: The ninth-year coach said his team will be practically new this fall, only returning six varsity players from 2018. Of them are seniors Gabriel Sosa and Salvador Medrano, as well as juniors Riley Primeau, Joe Murtagh, JT Higgins and Nick Pratt. “Our goal and our hope this season is to stay calm and positive at all cost, and focus on our athletes’ development and growth, aspiring to reach a higher level one day at a time and see the progression from the beginning to the end,” Chavez said. “It is a very talented group of athletes with a great attitude and willingness to listen and work hard.” One of the biggest holes needing filled will be the scoring void left by graduated-senior Nathan Wanninger, who scored 25 goals in 2018 while leading the Falcons to the state quarterfinals.
Teams and trends: Centaurus, Greeley Central, Longmont, Mountain View, Niwot, Northridge, Silver Creek and Thompson Valley. The Raptors have won the league title two of the past three years, and Centaurus, Longmont and Niwot have each won the title once since 2014.
2018 league leaders: Centaurus’ Fernando Ruiz had 22 goals and 50 points, while teammate Christian Nunez had 13 assists; Northridge’s Ethan Harkless (graduated) had a goals-against average of .933 and Longmont’s Connor Taylor had 159 saves.
Numbers game: No team has won the league title in consecutive years since Broomfield departed the league after the 2013 season.
Coach: Lee Stanley
The Scorecard: My, my … will Centaurus be fun to watch. Scoring will be plenty. The Warriors return two of the most dangerous players in the state in seniors Fernando Ruiz and Christian Nunez. Pretty soon, both may cross the 50-goal plateau as Ruiz currently has 44 goals over his career and Nunez 43. Last fall, Ruiz and Nunez were named all-state and all-region players. Nunez, meanwhile, was selected as an Allstate Insurance All-American, the only player from Colorado to be chosen for the honor. Joining their attack will be juniors Jesus Garcia (10 goals and 12 assists over his career) and Raudel Manjarrez (4 and 15). Last year, the Warriors finished second in league and pushed their way into the second round of the state playoffs, where they lost to Air Academy, the state champs.
Coach: Andy Callaway
The Scorecard: Callaway said he is excited for the progress shown by his team since it went 3-11-1 last fall. The Trojans will have to stay healthy to compete in a talented Northern League — contrary to last year when Callaway said various ailments plagued the team. Senior Jaime Rivas is back after he led the team with four goals in 2018. Other contributors to look out for include Aidan Wegner, Ethan Campbell, Bryan Saenz, Connor Taylor and Teagan Fregosi. “As long as we can stay healthy, I believe we will make some noise in the Northern Conference this season,” Callaway said.
Coach: Stephen Dimit
The Scorecard: The Cougars put the No. 2 team in last year’s postseason, Skyview, on the brink of elimination before the Wolverines rattled off three consecutive goals, including two in the final 15 minutes to advance. Dimit’s team hasn’t forgotten about it. The fourth-year coach hopes it can fuel his young group in 2019. “All year, players have pushed themselves to grow as athletes and closer together as a team,” he said. The Cougars return a dynamic frontline that features Keegan Stobbe, Aidan Martin and Ismael Dominguez. Dimit thinks they could be “one of the best trios in the state”. In the back, Andy Worrell, Daniel Cho, Carter Kruse and Manny Soto all return, as does three-year starting midfielder Jared Osteen.
Silver Creek Raptors
Coach: Rob Johnson
The Scorecard: Led by the league’s player of the year Dylan Weiss, the Raptors won the league title while out-scoring their conference foes 29-5 over the seven games. They won eight of nine down the stretch, including a dramatic double-overtime win over George Washington in the opening round of the postseason. Then, they were eliminated by Denver North in the second round. This fall, Johnson hopes his team can make a deep run in the postseason and “hopefully stay healthy” after injuries plagued his team a year ago. Weiss returns as one of the best midfielders in the area. He scored seven goals and had 13 assists in 2018. Other players to keep an eye out for include Jacob Van Ens, Ander Poitras-Lazcano, Ross Bosley, Simon Gerlach and Jace Carson.
Teams and trends: Bishop Machebeuf, Colorado Academy, Faith Christian, Jefferson Academy, Kent Denver, Lutheran, Manual, Peak to Peak, Prospect Ridge, SkyView Academy and Stargate School. In the past five seasons Kent Denver has won four league titles, while Jefferson Academy won it in 2017.
2018 league leaders: Faith Christian’s Jon Randall had 18 goals and 42 points; Kent Denver’s Rawson Welch had nine assists; SkyView Academy’s Daniel Orbidan (graduated) had 95 saves.
Numbers game: Eight of the 11 teams in the league finished with positive goal differential over the 2018 season.
Jefferson Academy Jaguars
Coach: Matt Cassell
The Scorecard: The Jaguars have won at least one game in the postseason every year since 2014, which includes last fall when it upended Vail Mountain before falling to Liberty Common. Now, they must flip the page, said Cassell, after graduating seven seniors. “It is the first year I can recall that I entered training camp without a single starter listed in a specific position in ink,” Cassell said. “It is truly a turn of a cycle.” Juniors James Spitz and Ford Krout will be a couple players to know on Cassell’s squad in 2019. The ninth-year coach also said his team features an exciting freshman class and three solid keepers. Three of their first four games on the schedule include Legacy, Centaurus and Holy Family.
Peak to Peak Pumas
Coach: James Davies
The Scorecard: The Pumas had a very solid senior class in 2018, one that included all-region player Reid Dimond and honorable mention selections Michael Chewning, Jon Gruener, and Omar Lemus. Luke Crotty, a freshman last year, led all non-seniors on the team with three goals. Underclassmen Vikas Muralidharan, Ander De Onaindia, Caden Gundrum, Patrick Grady and Garrett Jackson, meanwhile, each had just one goal to account for the rest of the non-graduated scoring. The young guys will have to step up if the Pumas hope to get off to a strong start this fall with Valor Christian and Kent Denver slated for the end of this month.
Prospect Ridge Academy Miners
Coach: Todd Schoeder
The Scorecard: The Miners graduated eight seniors, which leaves only one senior and two juniors on Schoeder’s young team. “This will be a rebuilding season for the squad, but we are entering the season injury-free with hopes of earning a season-end playoff berth,” the fifth-year coach said. “Our team strength is through the midfield with solid support from key defensive players. Couple this with our speedy forwards, we’re sure to provide an attacking threat in games. Our only weakness is inexperience, but we’re sure to get stronger with each game.” Impact players for his team should include senior Michael Mote, junior Michael Ungacta, sophomores Griffin Hill and Andrew Cuss, as well as freshman Jack Haynes.
Teams and trends: Estes Park, Frontier Academy, Liberty Common, Mead, Sterling and Valley. The Mavericks moved to the league last season and finished 2-7-1 inside of it. Liberty Common has dominated the league, losing just once inside the conference since 2015.
2018 league leaders: Liberty Common’s Evan Walter (graduated) had 16 goals; Liberty Common’s Zach Harker and Michael Yeh (both graduated) each had 40 points and Harker led the league in assists with 14; Liberty Common’s Michael Bradley (graduated) had a goals against-average of .359.
Numbers game: Liberty Common scored 72 goals in league play. The other five teams combined for 73.
Coach: Shane Adler
The Scorecard: The Mavericks have struggled for quite a while to find wins but finished last fall strong with two victories in their final three games. It was their first win in three seasons, per MaxPreps. In 2019, Hector Contreras, a senior defender, will help the backline, and Fernando Contreras should be a playmaker out front. Liberty Common should again be the power in the conference, but Mead proved it belonged late last season. Perhaps, momentum can carry into 2019.
MILE HIGH LEAGUE
Teams and trends: Dawson, Denver Academy, Denver Christian, Front Range Christian, Heritage Christian, Nederland, Union Colony. Outside of Nederland, which joined in 2018, these group of teams have made up at least part of this conference with Dawson and Denver Christian each winning twice over the past six years while splitting the honors as part of a three-way tie in 2013.
2018 league leaders: Union Colony’s Ricardo Guzman (graduated) and Heritage Christian’s Nagi Williams each had 22 goals; Guzman had 56 points and Union Colony’s Isaac Perez had 21 assists; Union Colony’s Oscar Castaneda had 135 saves and Denver Christian’s Max Attwood had a 1.064 goals-against average.
Numbers game: More than half of Dawson’s goals last season were assisted (50 goals, 27 assists).
Dawson School Mustangs
Coach: David Criswell
The Scorecard: The Mustangs only lost two players from their 2018 team, which went a perfect 6-0 in league before getting bounced in the state quarterfinals by six seed and eventual runner-up Telluride. Criswell returns two of the more talented players in the classification in Jesse Isenhart and Rio Sueyoshi. Isenhart scored 15 goals and had three assists, while Sueyoshi added seven goals and five assists. They’ll also get back goalie Tony Aieta, who made 67 saves in 1,156 minutes last fall. “The team didn’t feel last year’s playoff results represented what we’re capable of,” the second-year coach said. “They’re showing great motivation to work towards our potential and make a deep playoff run.”
Coach: Alberto Gonzalez
The Scorecard: Nederland dropped 8-man football in 2018 due to dwindling enrollment and participation and instead offered boys soccer. In their first year in varsity, the Panthers won three games and were outscored 75-16. They beat Front Range Christian twice and Denver Jewish Day in the first few weeks of the season before losing seven in a row.
Bringing it home: recent state champions
2018 — Arapahoe (5A), Air Academy (4A), Kent Denver (3A), Crested Butte (2A).
2017 — Broomfield (5A), Air Academy (4A), Liberty Common (3A)
2016 — Boulder (5A), The Classical Academy (4A), Kent Denver (3A)
2015 — Broomfield (5A), Evergreen (4A), Kent Denver (3A)
2014 — Broomfield (5A), Air Academy (4A), Kent Denver (3A)
2013 — Pine Creek (5A), Cheyenne Mountain (4A), Colorado Academy (3A)
2012 — Boulder (5A), Battle Mountain (4A), Colorado Academy (3A)
Point me to the postseason
Regular season games for all classifications must be completed by Oct. 26. In each Class 2A, one automatic qualifier comes out of each of the four regions with eight at-large bids based on RPI rankings. In 3A, there is 13 automatic qualifiers determined by each league with 19 at-large bids selected by RPI rankings. In 4A, there are 16 automatic qualifiers based on league results and 16 at-large bids off of RPI. And in 5A, there is 13 automatic bids based on league results and 19 by RPI. All state championship games will be played at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with 5A on Nov. 15 and the rest of the classes Nov. 16.