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Football: 2020 Season A small school preview capsules

Class 3A/A/8-man capsules as several teams shift gears in new season

Daily Camera file photo
Mead’s Brayden Keys (with football) scored 11 offensive touchdowns in 2019.
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Class 3A
Frederick Warriors
Coach: Travis Peeples
The Scorecard: The Warriors are coming off a state semifinals appearance, led by the dynamic Jake Green, who was named BoCoPreps.com offensive player of the year at fall’s end. With Green and a good amount of the starters from that 2019 team now gone, this year’s group is tremendously young with just six seniors among the 100 players on roster. Even so, Peeples said expectations are high, with hopes of contending for league and a postseason spot on the radar. The offensive and defensive lines will be key. Calling the fronts “the best I have had since arriving four years ago”, Peeples’ big men include talented seniors Chris Cinocco and Reese Lehman. It also features 6-foot-3, 290-pound junior Trevin McClain, tight end/defensive end Alex Sturn and defensive end Chris Baum. At quarterback will be Bryce Conover, who Peeples calls “big and athletic”. Linebackers will include Mikey Espindola, Caleb Robinson and Tyler Weston.
Numbers game: Parker Ayres looks to be one of the featured backs for the Warriors this season. In limited attempts last year, he rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns on just 22 carries. … Frederick will need to find production elsewhere after Green accounted for more than 50 percent of the offense’s total yardage with 3,490. … Baum is the team’s returning leader in tackles after totaling 67 last fall. It was six seniors who had more than him in 2019.

FREDERICK, CO - Nov. 30, 2019: ...
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Frederick head football coach Travis Peeples guided the Warriors to the Class 3A state semifinals last season.

Holy Family Tigers
Coach: Mike Gabriel
The Scorecard: The Tigers’ strength should be in the trenches, led by Boise State commit Cord Kringlen, the team’s left tackle/defensive tackle. Up on the line with him will be seniors Thomas Pittenger (center/defensive tackle), Brody Welch (offensive line/defensive tackle) and Benton Daniels (tight end/defensive tackle). At running back, the team’s 2019 rushing leader returns in Trevin Johnson, who had 877 yards and seven touchdowns on 167 carries. He also had 21 receptions for 293 yards and two scores as well as a kick return TD. Also returning is linebacker Benito Hernandez, who had 75 tackles and two fumble recoveries a year ago. As is Liam Gray — the kicker/punter who also flashes at receiver. Gray caught five touchdowns in 2019, while also drilling five field goals with a long of 51 yards. “The expectations for the 2020 Tigers are very high,” Gabriel said. “With seven returning starters on both sides of the ball, the team has goals of a league championship. The new conference will pose challenges as most of the teams are unknowns, but we have the talent in place to win the league and make a run at the state title.”
Numbers game: Michael White looks to be the starting quarterback for the Tigers, replacing Calahan Carter, who threw for 2,622 yards and 25 touchdowns last year. … Holy Family had only two games decided by a score or less last season. The other nine were all blowout wins or losses, with an average margin of separation of 34.2 points. … Justin Trostel (linebacker/running back) returns after leading the team with 88 tackles in 2019.

Holy Family's Justin Trostel wraps up ...
Daily Camera file photo
Holy Family’s Justin Trostel, bottom right, led the Tigers in 2019 with 88 tackles.

Mead Mavericks
Coach: Jason Klatt
The Scoreboard: Mead went undefeated in the regular season in 2019 and was unbeaten in league play for a third straight season. A strong reason for it was its ground-and-pound run game. Averaging 288.2 yards per game and 8.5 yards per touch in 2019, the Mavericks said farewell to Jake Wachter, who led the team with 1,119 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. But they will get back two key cogs in senior backs Brayden Keys and Nathan Bailey. Among other seniors across an otherwise young, young lineup are linebackers Brandon Groth and Brady Borger; defensive ends Jacob Adams and Jason Pelzel; and wide receiver Hayden Sock. At quarterback, Porter Eastin looks to be the heir apparent to Brady Veltien, who threw for more than 1,000 yards in 2019.
Numbers game: Mead had the third-most interceptions (16) in Class 3A in 2019, led by BoCoPreps.com defensive player of the year Trey Ward’s seven. The team returned three of them for scores with returnee Keys having one of them. … Quarterback Eastin saw limited playing time as a sophomore but flashed his wheels with 114 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He also had one completion for 14 yards. … Mead went 10-0 in the past two years in the 3A Northern Metro League and won the 3A Tri-Valley the year before that. This year, touting a 17-game league winning streak headed into the fall, the Mavericks will play in the 3A Northern League.

Niwot High School quarterback Ayden Bartko ...
Daily Camera file photo
Niwot’s Ayden Bartko returns as one of the area’s most improved quarterbacks.

Niwot Cougars
Coach: Nikolas Blume
The Scorecard: Blume takes over the Niwot program after three seasons under Jeremy Lanter, who went a combined 6-24. Hoping to take another step forward, Blume and the Cougars look to the growth and leadership of senior quarterback Ayden Bartko, who, all in all, had a pretty nice 2019 throwing for 1,538 yards and 13 touchdowns to nine interceptions. Beside him is a rushing attack driven by senior center James Cummins, navigated by feature backs Cooper Ackerman and Easten Leatherwood. Also look out for some new names at the wide receiver/defensive back positions in junior Craig Wright and sophomore Ben Classen.
Numbers game: In Niwot’s three wins in 2019, Bartko threw for six touchdowns and no interceptions. He had at least one interception in six of the team’s seven losses. … Along with their rushing duties, Ackerman and Leatherwood return as the team’s most productive playmakers on defense. Each had 49 tackles in 2019, the most among returnees. … This year’s formed-on-the-fly league has Lutheran, Holy Family, Discovery Canyon, Mitchell, Lewis-Palmer and Riverdale Ridge.

Class A 11-man
Prospect Ridge Academy Miners
Coach: Michael Storer
The Scorecard: Traditionally a team that has had a hard time coming out of the gates, the Miners are hoping 2020 is different and that a shortened season also means a little bit of help with keeping kids healthy toward a successful run in a smaller classification. Senior Dylan Meredith gained some valuable experience last year while the Miners’ ground game proved successful, and now it appears he will be shouldering the load along with senior Alex Rodriguez — they combined for 38 carries and 289 yards in a win against Pinnacle on Thursday night. Junior Marcus Martinez, senior Luke Thiret and host of others will get their touches as the Miners seek a dynamic attack. Defensively, there are a good mix of upperclassmen and younger athletes eager to change the fortunes of their program in 1A 11-man ball. Juniors David Castro, Caleb Perruzza and Hunter Love could have big years, as could seniors Ryan Carroll and Bryson Kenyon.
Numbers game: Kenyon racked up almost 1,000 all-purpose yards last year, and he already has a 90-yard kickoff return for a score in 2020. … Bennett joins PRA as teams dropping from 2A to 1A and helping form a league that includes Strasburg, Platte Canyon, Highland, Banning Lewis (first-year program) and Pinnacle.

Class A 8-man
Lyons Lions
Coach: Jason Yantzer
The Scorecard: Lyons gets an opportunity to compete in the 8-man realm of the gridiron game this season after having a rough go if it the past few years in 11-man (1-17 the past two seasons). There’s hope that a deeper roster of players and less positions on the field can result in more athletes getting the proper development and a slowing down of the game overall. The Lions do retain a mix of athletic players on both sides of the football, including but not limited to seniors Sean Stevelinck, David Gardner, Camden Adams and Monte Pickering; juniors Frank Percarpio, Wyatt Bashor and Anthony Thomlison; and sophomore Dequlyn Keller.
Numbers game: Lyons has nowhere to go but up after registering just seven touchdowns last year. Placekicker Alexa Karsel, now graduated, was second on the team with 17 points, just one behind Percarpio.