League and team outlook
Longs Peak League
Teams and trends: Fort Collins, Greeley Central, Loveland, Monarch, Silver Creek, Skyline. Teams from the conference that have won a league title in recent history include Loveland (2018), Windsor (2017), Monarch (2016) and Fort Collins (2015, 2014).
2018 league leaders: Passing yards: Chase Silva, Skyline, 2,829*; Rushing yards: Zach Weinmaster, Loveland, 2,004; Receiving yards: Kyle West, Skyline, 1,285; TD’s: Weinmaster, Loveland, 32; Tackles: Michael Deschene, Loveland, 141; Sacks: Collin Morrison, Loveland, 8; Interceptions: Cody Rakowsky, Loveland, 6.
Numbers game: Loveland’s offense got plenty of attention on the way to a state title, but the defense was perhaps the even better part of the team. The Indians gave up 83 points (5.92 points per game) and forced 38 turnovers … If Skyline is to make it back to the state championship game, it may be on the arm of quarterback Chase Silva, who stepped in and threw for 2,829 yards, the fifth most in the entire state. The Falcons averaged 32.5 points per game … Fort Collins showed balance on offense averaging 137 rushing yards and 131 passing yards per game. Hayden Iverson led the team in passing yards (1,298) and rushing yards (650), but the Lambkins are without their top three receivers from last year.
*Eligible to return in 2019
Coach: Phil Bravo
The Scorecard: The Coyotes are coming off a 5-5 season but hope that experience will help them win a few more games this year. The team is looking at returning 16 starters. Austin Fiala, Ryan Shaughnessy and Max Fredricksmeyer give them depth and experience in the backfield on offense to build on. As for defense, Monarch returns leading tackler Jack Ewig (103 tackles), but they will try to generate more turnovers after only creating 12 during the season. With many league teams re-tooling in general, Monarch hopes its youth from last year will pay dividends. Still, Bravo believes the league is stacked with talent and will challenge his team again.
Silver Creek Raptors
Coach: Brian McGee
The Scorecard: McGee is back for his second season at the helm of Silver Creek and is looking to get the Raptors back to their contending ways. He is looking at his senior class as good leaders to help that process and returns many contributors on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Carter Clossen will anchor the offensive side and have another classmate as the returning leading rusher in Michael Tomaszewski. The defense will include Cole Riters and Zach Hirman as the senior leaders from last year. McGee and his coaches also worked this offseason, attending clinics and camps so they can get on the same page in order to help Silver Creek improve from its two-win total.
Coach: Mike Silva
The Scorecard: The Falcons made a push to the state championship game before falling to league rival Loveland at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. The run to the championship game is one that Skyline will use as motivation for everyone coming back. Chase Silva led the league in passing yards and gives the offensive attack a steady presence at a key position. Look for Grayden Bridwell to emerge as a go-to target and Michael McKrola, a 220-pound running back, to give the offense some balance. Silva is also excited about four returning offensive linemen with playoff experience. If the offensive numbers stay consistent to what they were last year, the Falcons feel they’ll have what it takes to make another postseason run, but Loveland will still be the team to beat for them. Those two battle against each other Nov. 9 at Everly-Montgomery Field.
Teams and trends: Brighton, Broomfield, Greeley West, Longmont, Mountain View, Windsor. Broomfield has finished either first or second in their conference in each of the last pine seasons.
2018 league leaders: Passing yards: Robbie Coffin, Brighton, 2,153; Rushing yards: Drake Engelking, Longmont, 1,429; Receiving yards: Drake Cortez, Brighton, 1,003 ; TD’s: Engelking, Longmont, 21; Tackles: Beau Little, Windsor, 109; Sacks: Ryan Capasso, Broomfield, 9; Interceptions: Darren Peeples, Windsor, 5.
Numbers game: Brighton’s dynamic passing game could take a hit with quarterback Robbie Coffin and leading receiver Drake Cortez gone, but Eli Bowman (23 receptions, 320 yards, 5 touchdowns) will look to keep it going. The Bulldogs may also lean on the run game with leading rusher Vershon Brooks (616 yards) returning … Greeley West won the league title but will be without its starting quarterback and leading rusher, receiver and tackler, so the team’s depth from last year will be tested … Keep an eye on Windsor’s rushing attack. Three rushers who combined for 1,352 of the team’s 2,521 yards return, including leading rusher Wyett Ekeler (707 yards).
Coach: Blair Hubbard
The Scorecard: The Eagles were second in the Northern League standings and put up some impressive numbers during the regular season, but the year came to a halt with a first-round upset loss to Chatfield 10-7. Caden Peters had the most explosive plays on offense and should be a dynamic playmaker again, and Hubbard also believes that Zachary Kapushion can step in at quarterback after leading the freshman and JV teams the past two seasons. Numbers are high and the team hopes they can platoon and keep everyone fresh and healthy for the season. If they do, the Eagles should be able to have similar success from last year while trying to avoid another early playoff exit.
Coach: Doug Johnson
The Scorecard: Head coach Doug Johnson returns for his 20th season with Longmont and is focused on improving in all areas to build on a 7-4 record and first-round playoff exit. Keep a close eye on Brayden Engelking, a leader on the defensive end that Johnson feels can improve even more this season. Sage Yazzie will get the chance to step in at quarterback and should fill in nicely this year. Bryce Rhode, Aiden Tank and Aiden Gaddis are also back and should step up for the Trojans as well. Johnson feels that with the talent in the league, you have to be able to win in a variety of ways and compete at the highest level. Before facing their Northern League foes, Longmont will open the season yet again with powerhouse Pueblo East on Sept. 5.
Teams and trends: Centaurus, Fruita Monument, Hinkley, Standley Lake, Thornton, Vista PEAK Prep. Fruita Monument, the league champion last year, has reached the playoffs in each of the past four seasons and won its past two league titles (won 4A’s Mountain League in 2017).
2018 league leaders: Passing yards: Nick Faraca, Centaurus, 2,436*; Rushing yards: Treyton Queen, Fruita Monument, 1,506; Receiving yards: Andres Mendoza, Centaurus, 897; TD’s: Queen, Fruita Monument, 18; Tackles: Harlan Potts, Hinkley, 109; Sacks: Jeremiah Blackwood, Vista PEAK, 18.5; Interceptions: Alex France, Standley Lake, 3.
Numbers game: Fruita Monument had the highest-scoring offense in the league and averaged 31.4 points per game, but most of that came from Treyton Queen, the graduate who led the league in rushing yards and touchdowns… The most prolific rushing attack returning belongs to Vista PEAK with Gene Sledge Jr. (944 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Ja’derris Carr-Kersh (719 yards, 7 touchdowns). All the players who combined for 2,377 yards and 28 touchdowns return for the Bison … Standley Lake had the second-highest scoring offense in the league but also allowed just over 23 points per game. If the defense is to bounce back, Kevin Starnes will need to lead the way as they do not return their top three tacklers.
*Eligible to return in 2019
Coach: Andy Hampton
The Scorecard: The Warriors will be young again this year and are hoping to see a deep sophomore class catch up on how to play at the varsity level. One bright spot and leader for the team will be quarterback Nick Faraca as he threw for 2,436 yards and 18 touchdowns. His go-to receivers are expected to be Davian Lujan and Titis Gebhardt, and Hampton is also looking for big seasons from Eddy Zygowicz, Talor Herbstreit, Parker Heslin and Freddy Perez on both sides of the ball. There has been a harder work ethic in the weight room this offseason that the team feels will help them challenge more of their league opponents, but all will be determined by how fast some of the younger players catch on.