Football: State playoff capsules

5A resumes in second round, while 4A and 3A get started this weekend


A period of exquisite felicity, or perhaps drowned in woe, a bit of the former, and plenty of the other will have its place with postseason football underway. Speeches rah-rah and sentimental in nature, mind you, won’t be far behind.

Win-or-go-home football has already begun in the Class 5A and small school brackets, while 4A and 3A start Friday.

The coverage area has eight teams left in the mix after upset-minded Legacy fell just short of stunning Eaglecrest in the opening round of 5A.

Now, only Fairview along with its top-of-the-charts quarterback, Aidan Atkinson, is left in the biggest classification.

Mead High School's No. 2, not ...
Daily Camera file photo
The Mead football team kicks off its 3A championship quest Saturday afternoon at home against Harrison.

In 3A, Mead is in the top spot thanks to an undefeated regular season that concluded in last Friday’s sweat-it-out win over rival Frederick, which is just down from that at sixth. Broomfield, also unbeaten, is second in 4A, while 2018 runner-up Skyline is in a familiar spot with Ponderosa up first in a rematch of last year’s semifinal.

Erie, Holy Family and Longmont, meanwhile, all begin on the road.

Here’s a brief look at each matchup:

Class 5A second round

No. 8 Fairview hosts No. 9 Cherokee Trail

Details: At Christian Recht Field, Friday, 7 p.m.

What to know: The Knights have been dominant this season outside of a rickety 50-7 loss to Ralston Valley in Week 2. Grant Page is having a breakout sophomore season while catching passes from Atkinson, and Henry Blackburn’s return to the field five games ago has completely solidified the pass attack thanks to his 52 receptions and 19 touchdowns. They match up against the Cougars, who appear to be playing their best football of the season. Led by the football mind of Joe Johnson, a three-time state champion coach who built ThunderRidge into Highlands Ranch’s football power prior to Valor Christian, Cherokee Trail rallied to beat 5A No. 10 Eaglecrest to end the regular season. It then handled Fountain-Fort Carson in a 35-17 opening round win.

Who to watch: Fairview defensive end Brayden Wood — and all the guys who will make it their mission to block him. Averaging nearly 10 tackles per game, the junior has a whopping 16 wrap-ups for loss this season.

Class 4A first round

No. 2 Broomfield hosts No. 15 Grand Junction

Details: At Elizabeth Kennedy Stadium, Saturday, 2 p.m.

What to know: Don’t need to know much about Grand Junction’s preparation for Broomfield to infer that Caden Peters was probably high on the list of things to study. The speedy senior has rushed for more than 100 yards in all 10 games this season, totaling 2,089 on a 9.3 clip. What’s more is the Eagles have dazzled on defense, too. Surrendering only 9.5 points per game, it hasn’t given up more than 17 in any game this year.

Who to watch: Broomfield quarterback Zachary Kapushion. The junior doesn’t air it out as much as some of the gunslingers around the state, but he has shown how dangerous he can be with his arm when needed.

No. 8 Skyline hosts No. 9 Ponderosa

Details: At Everly-Montgomery Field, Saturday, 1 p.m.

What to know: The Falcons ran all the way to the state title game as the No. 9 seed last year, punching their championship game ticket by way of a 32-0 win at Ponderosa. The rematch features some of the faces that led the way.  Quarterback Chase Silva has followed a strong sophomore season with 29 touchdowns so far as a junior. With multiple TD throws in all but one game, he’s helped the team recover from a 1-2 start to win their last seven. He faces a defense that has allowed seven or fewer points in four of its last six games.

Who to watch: Skyline senior linebacker/guard Will Drewes. With the ability to change the complexion of a game in a hurry, Drewes has 121 tackles, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception this year.

No. 16 Longmont travels to No. 1 Pine Creek

Details: At District 20 Stadium, Friday, 7 p.m.

What to know: This time, it’s Longmont and its dual-threat quarterback, Keegan Patterson, looking to spoil the party for No. 1 Pine Creek. Last year, Skyline ended the top-ranked Eagles’ run in the second round. A double take per chance? We’ll see. Patterson has three games this year where’s he’s thrown and rushed for more than 100 yards. He’ll likely need to be strong to counter an Eagles offense led by David Moore III, or DM3, who has 1,826 yards and 25 touchdowns with an average carry of 13.4.

Who to watch: Longmont’s ‘I’m everywhere man’, Sage Yazzie. You won’t miss him. The senior has thrown six touchdowns, rushed for five scores and caught two. He also punts — with a season-long boot of 50 yards.

Class 3A first round

No. 1 Mead hosts No. 16 Harrison

Details: At Mead, Saturday, 1 p.m.

What to know: Following a 27-20 win over Frederick last week, Mead coach Jason Klatt said “nobody believed” that the Mavericks could throw it at a high efficiency, too. Warm-bodied skeptics or not, the Mavs showed them. With the run attack that averages over 300 yards per game not at full capacity, Brady Veltien aired it out for 213 yards in the win, leading Mead to its third straight league title. The No. 1 seed gets Harrison, which went 9-1 and won the 3A Southern League in sneaking into the last spot in the field.

Who to watch: Mead senior Trey Ward. He has four TD receptions, four interceptions and has blocked two field goals.

No. 6 Frederick hosts No. 11 Thomas Jefferson

Details: At Frederick, Friday, 7 p.m.

What to know: Frederick quarterback Jake Green deserves our attention. His play seemingly demands it every week. The senior has thrown for 1,287 yards with 22 touchdowns to just one interception. He’s rushed for 1,295 and 15 more. With every touch, he has the ability to dial up a long pass or scribble through a defense with his legs. He and the Warriors won nine straight before falling to Mead last week.  Thomas Jefferson averages just 20 yards more per game than Green by himself.

Who to watch: Frederick kicker Luke Dunker. There’s nothing more exciting — or maybe excruciating — than watching the kicking team stroll into a high school game. There’s no telling when the next muffed punt or shanked field goal may change the tide of the game. For Dunker, though, he’s shown what a weapon he can be. With a surefire handle on punting and kicking duties, the senior also has a 52-yard field goal to his name this season.

No. 9 Erie travels to No. 8 Green Mountain

Details: At Jefferson County Stadium, Saturday, 1 p.m.

Holy Family wide receiver Ben Nappe, ...
Brandon Boles/
Holy Family has a tough road in the Class 3A playoffs, first facing two-time defending champ Palmer Ridge in round one.

What to know: Mason Veve gave a reworked offensive line the credit for his career rushing day in a win over Niwot last month. The run attack has been churning for a while now for the Tigers — i.e. a victory over Thompson Valley two weeks ago, when four different players ran to a score with Veve having three of them. It’s among things that have gone right for Chad Cooper’s team, which has ended the year swimmingly. The Tigers won the 3A Northern Valley League title for a second straight year and head into the postseason on a five-game winning streak. Up next, Green Mountain, which has shut out three of its last four opponents. Erie beat the Rams last year in the second round.

Who to watch: Erie quarterback Gavin Mendoza. The senior has been sharp with the football over the past seven games. Yes, Erie may like to rely on the run, but Mendoza always seems to leave a mark with his arm, too. He’s thrown a touchdown in every game this season.

No. 13 Holy Family travels to No. 4 Palmer Ridge

Details: At Don Breese Stadium, Friday, 7 p.m.

What to know: The Tigers are well-tested — just in time for defending champ Palmer Ridge. Despite going 5-5, Mike Gabriel’s team can boast a regular-season schedule that had six playoff teams, including the top three in the 3A field. And while the Bears don’t have the statewide pomp like they did a year ago with touted QB Ty Evans, their 2019 resume looks steadfast with just two losses (4A No. 1 Pine Creek and 3A No. 3 Discovery Canyon). The Tigers will have to overcome all that, plus this: They’re 0-5 on the road this year.

Who to watch: Holy Family quarterback Calahan Carter. The senior has 24 touchdowns to nine interceptions this year. When he hasn’t thrown an interception in a game, the Tigers are 4-1.