Coach: Tom McCartney
The Scorecard: The Knights, with the strength of 21 seniors on roster, will look to build off an impressive 10-2 record a season ago, which included a trip to the Class 5A quarterfinals. Kansas State defensive end commit Brayden Wood leads the team’s returnees — three on offense, eight on defense — as he looks to build upon a 2019 in which he had 116 tackles and 18 tackles for loss. Grant Page, meanwhile, figures to be a top target in the offense after accumulating 1,250 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore. Throwing to him will be new starting quarterback Liam O’Brien, who has thrown for eight touchdowns to just three interceptions as a backup over the past two seasons. O’Brien, with Division-I lacrosse offers coming in, should see his QB stock rise in McCartney’s pass-friendly offense. His success will be paramount in how far the Knights go in 2020.
Numbers game: Dillon Tarves is one of three returning starters on offense alongside Wood and Page. Last year, he made up for more than half of the team’s rushing production with 666 yards and four touchdowns on 82 carries. … Senior linebacker Liam Huber was a playmaker in 2019 with 4 1/2 sacks and three fumble recoveries. … O’Brien threw for 285 yards and four touchdowns in Fairview’s 42-28 loss to Cherry Creek in the 5A quarterfinals. The Bruins went on to win the state title. … McCartney has a 190-109 record at Fairview.
Coach: Corey Heinz
The Scorecard: The 2019 season was kind of a strange one for the Lightning as they started 0-6, finished the regular season with three wins over their last four games, then came within a hair of delivering an upset win over Eaglecrest in the first round of the postseason. In 2020 … it’s anybody’s guess. “We will be young but athletic,” Heinz said. “It is hard to know what to expect from this season, but we are hoping to start much better than last year and compete for conference.” For one thing, their run game should go through the hands of junior Braelon Tate. A secondary punch to longtime starting RB Dakota Key a season ago, Tate ran for 512 yards and four touchdowns on 93 carries. He should highlight an offense that also poses some nice talent in linemen Austin Stallan and Noah Williams and wide receivers Jaiden Peterson and Cole Walker. The defense should be led by its playmaking safety Mason Dickerson. That unit also includes junior linebacker Michael McCarty, junior cornerback Braden Keith and senior lineman Zane Carlson.
Numbers game: The Lightning had four games decided by three points last season and lost three of them. … Peterson led the team in receptions as a junior with 64. He caught four touchdowns and also threw for one on his only passing attempt of the year. … McCarty and Dickerson are the top two returners in defensive production. Dickerson had 48 tackles and two interceptions. McCarty had 55 tackles, four of them for loss.
Coach: Blair Hubbard
The Scorecard: Broomfield has been a playoff team for the past four seasons and that run of strong showings has also included Class 4A state championship game appearances in 2016 and 2019. Linebacker Hall Edmonds, defensive lineman Kevin Allen and defensive back Jade Solano return to lead the Eagles defense in 2020. The Eagles will likely lean heavily on that defense while they build cohesiveness between an offensive unit that is replacing starting quarterback Zachary Kapushion, who transferred to play his senior season at South Paulding High School in Georgia. Broomfield also has one of the best kickers in the state in Matthew Eich and Hubbard said he feels good about the unity he has seen throughout a summer and early fall as the Eagles prepared for a season they weren’t sure would ever come.
Numbers game: The Eagles offense will have to replace Kapushion’s 1,409 passing yards and graduated running back Caden Peters’ 2,625 rushing yards from 2019… They will likely look to senior Trent Finnegan, who is the team’s top returning rusher and receiver… In just nine games last season, Edmonds racked up 95 total tackles and is the Eagles’ lead returning tackler.
Coach: Chad Cooper
The Scorecard: After going 30-8 over the past three seasons in Class 3A, Erie is moving up to 4A this season. With plenty of new elements and the same uncertainty every team is facing this fall, the Tigers are simply focused on controlling what’s controllable and playing smart, fast and physical football. One source of comfort the Tigers have is senior running back Mason Veve, who led the team with 1,273 yards and 15 touchdowns last fall. Another will be stout offensive and defensive lines that feature impact players like 6-5 John Pastore and 6-4 Drake Rhodes. The Tigers have become accustomed to success since playing the 3A championship game in 2017 and they’re ready to face the challenges that accompany a jump in classification during an unprecedented time.
Numbers game: Aidan Achtziger, who caught a touchdown as a sophomore, will be a player to watch who could make an impact at either linebacker or tight end, or both… After Veve, the returning players with the most rushing yards in 2019 are Caleb Theisen and Andrew Piper, who rushed for 221 and 174 yards, respectively.
Coach: Doug Johnson
The Scorecard: Longmont is focusing on handling the changes and variations on what the Trojans consider to be normal while looking to remain the perennial playoff team they have been for years. A key advantage the Trojans have in that regard is returning quarterback Keegan Patterson, who gained some experience after taking over the starting role midway through the 2019 season. Around Patterson, the Trojans have a solid core of offensive skill position players that includes Jack Moll, Caleb Johnson and Eddie Kurjak. Seniors Aiden Gaddis and Richard Mayeda will help anchor the offensive and defensive lines, and Sam Ruffing and Kale Derksen should also be impact two-way players. Junior running back Justice Lillie will be an up-and-coming player to watch.
Numbers game: As a sophomore in 2019, Patterson threw for 1,323 yards and 10 touchdowns in seven games after taking over as the full-time starting quarterback in Week 5… Gaddis led the Trojans with four sacks last season… Ruffing had a team-high 81 tackles in 2019… Johnson is the team’s top returning player in terms of total yards after putting up 598 in 2019.
Coach: Phil Bravo
The Scorecard: The Coyotes posted a 5-5 record in 2019 and will be looking to get over the .500 hump this fall. One reason Bravo believes they can do that is a solid returning core of interior linemen that includes Sam Grace, Zack Malcomson, Alex Tapia, Jim Grace and Charlie Williams. Behind that veteran line, the Coyotes also return senior quarterback Kyle Gordon, who could be poised for a breakout season. The Coyotes’ tandem of wing backs Keiran Singh and Ryan Shaughnessy should give the offense a dynamic element, as well. Developing depth quickly will be a key for the Coyotes but Bravo has confidence in his returning players after many of them went through a trial by fire playing as underclassmen last season.
Numbers game: Singh (1,303 yards) and Shaughnessy (300) combined for 1,603 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns last fall… Gordon threw the ball 69 times as a junior in Monarch’s run-heavy offense last fall but could see an increase in attempts as a senior… Safety Jackson Petitte is the team’s top returning tackler after finishing the 2019 season with 73 total tackles. He also had four passes defensed.
Silver Creek Raptors
Coach: Brian McGee
The Scorecard: How fast their young players can get used to the speed and physicality of varsity football will be a key for Silver Creek, but McGee also said he is excited about the Raptors’ mix of returning players and multi-sport athletes who simply love to compete. Coming off a 5-5 season, the Raptors will have to replace graduated quarterback Carter Closson and several of their leading ball carriers and receivers from 2019. Much of that responsibility will likely be assumed by two-way standouts like Mason Goss, Eli Hubert, Dylan Johnson, Bryan Silver and Nathan Churchich. Despite being .500 several times, the Silver Creek football team has not had a winning season since 2016 and the Raptors are looking to break through under unusual circumstances in 2020.
Numbers game: The team’s top returning receiver, senior Goss caught 24 passes for 396 yards and five touchdowns in 2019… Senior Silver was third on the team with 69 total tackles last fall… Just a sophomore in 2019, Hubert led the Raptors with five interceptions and seven passes defensed.
Coach: Mike Silva
The Scorecard: The Falcons have gone 18-7 over the past two seasons, including an appearance in the Class 4A state title game in 2018. With the shortened season, the Falcons know there’s little margin for error this fall and Silva believes the veteran nature of his group might give it a bit of an advantage with Colorado’s teams having less time to prepare for the season. The Falcons offense should be a strength, led by premier two-year starting quarterback Chase Silva and an offensive line that includes seasoned players like Joel Hesse, Oscar Arranday and Alejandro Gutierrez. Defensively, they’ll lean on hybrid secondary players like Grayden Bridwell, Nick Peterson and Hayden Robison behind a big defensive front led by 6-5, 325-pound defensive tackle Kaleb Allen.
Numbers game: After a slow start in 2019, Silva threw for 1,702 yards and 21 touchdowns with just four interceptions over the Falcons’ last seven games last fall… Nine of Silva’s touchdowns passes went to Bridwell, who shined on defense but also caught 51 passes for 738 yards on offense… Finn Torello had an auspicious debut season in 2019, finishing his freshman campaign with 526 all-purpose yards.