League and team outlook
FRONT RANGE LEAGUE
Teams and trends: Boulder, Broomfield, Fairview, Fort Collins, Fossil Ridge, Horizon, Legacy, Monarch, Mountain Range, Poudre and Rocky Mountain. Last season, Legacy won its first league title since 2007, going 10-1 in the FRL. Broomfield, though, went on to claim the 5A crown. FRL teams have now won six of the last eight 5A title games with the Eagles winning four and the Panthers two.
2019 league leaders: Broomfield grad Mawolo Easton led the way with 19 goals. Legacy grad Blake Hansen had 49 points with 18 goals and thirteen assists. The Eagles’ Gustavo Gutierrez, also graduated, had 46 points with 16 goals and 14 assists. He also scored the game-winner in the 2019 title game. … Monarch’s Carter Watson was credited with 116 saves. Broomfield grad Jack Stoecker had a goals-against average of .517 with just seven allowed goals in 1,084 minutes.
Numbers game: FRL teams are responsible for 14 of the last 24 semifinals teams in 5A. Broomfield has reached the semifinals in every season since moving up to 5A in 2014.
Coach: Hardy Kalisher
The Scorecard: Senior forward Arroll Taekla has garnered plenty of attention despite the months-long shutdown on sports. The senior committed to Coastal Carolina in December and earned himself a spot on the All-American watch list, per Kalisher. Now, Taekla — who had nine goals and 10 assists last season — could frontline another deep run for the Panthers. He’s among six starters that returned from last season’s team, which reached the semifinals before falling in overtime to Broomfield. Others to watch include senior midfielder Ben Ray, senior forward Luke Kreidl, junior mid Eduardo Castillo, senior mid Oliver English, senior forward Brady Kreuer, senior forward Matteo Caccia, junior defender Calvin Pielke and sophomore mid Cameron Gerber, who is the first sophomore co-captain in program history, per Kalisher.
Coach: Jim Davidson
The Scorecard: The Eagles will look to retool — or maybe by now, it’s safe to say reload — after winning their state-most eighth boys’ soccer title 16 months ago. Coming in, Davidson said his team has a nice balance in the attack and backline. But, of course, the Eagles will need goal producers to step up after the Eagles lost FRL-leading goal scorer Mawolo Easton and BoCoPreps.com player of the year Gustavo “Goose” Gutierrez, who will forever be remembered for his rebound goal off the PK last season to beat Regis in the finals. Seniors to know this season include forward Isaiah Sorge along with midfielders John-Luc Harbour, Cesar Gaytan and Zane Jacobson. Harbour led that group with three goals and five assists last season. Connor Nolan, meanwhile, will look to replace last year’s senior keeper duo of Jack Stoecker, who is now at Santa Clara, and Greg Squire. Broomfield is ranked first in the preseason polls on CHSAANow.com.
Coach: Eric Schuler
The Scorecard: Another part of the juggernaut that is the FRL, the Knights reached the second round of the 5A state postseason before drawing Broomfield. Under first-year coach Eric Shuler, they finished 13-4 overall and 8-3 in league, good for fourth in the FRL. This year, they bring back talented center mids in Sebastien Mazur and Tristan Hird, as well as a high-class talent in forward Mason Sunderland. Other key returners include center mid Job Meuleman as well as defenders Justus Carter and Louis Kehoe. Said Shuler, “The quality of players at Fairview high school, and the rest of the FRL, is always exceptional, (and) this year is no different. The games that determine the best teams in our conference often determine who is the best team in Colorado. Our goal every year is to have exciting competitions with the top teams, build relationships and enjoy the game.”
Coach: Tony Romano
The Scorecard: Romano is five wins away from 100 as Legacy comes into the season looking to defend its league crown. The Lightning, however, will need to adjust after graduating 13 seniors — 10 of which started in their loss to Broomfield in the quarterfinals. “We almost literally have an entirely new team,” Romano said. Returning seniors will include Andrew Sanchez, Max Reder, Jorden Wehrly, Kevin Aguirre, Gavin Bhan, and Ben Hempelmann. The new seniors, Romano said, are Jose Bucio, who previously attended Aurora Central, as well as Jack Marin, who played for Legacy as a freshman before going the developmental academy route the past two seasons. Others to watch include Gael Hernandez and Ulises Rodriguez.
Coach: Ryan Brady
The Scorecard: Ryan Brady takes over for Kyle Reddy, making him the Coyotes’ third coach in three seasons. Last year, the Coyotes started 4-2, but largely struggled in the FRL, going 2-9 while getting outscored 13-38. But this year, they return a strong senior center back in Noah Hubbard and a talented attacking mid in Will Barnocky. Others to know include senior forward/midfielder Eric Egaas, senior keeper Carter Watson, forward Samuel Lee and junior defender Domenic Decaro, among others. As far as underclassmen, look out for sophomore defenders/mids Sean Kendall and Patrick Bell as well as freshman Leif Anderson.
Teams and trends: Centaurus, Erie, Greeley Central, Greeley West, Holy Family, Longmont, Loveland, Mead, Silver Creek, Skyline, Windsor. This is the first year of the league.
Numbers game: Six of the 11 teams made the Class 4A postseason field a season ago. Centaurus and Silver Creek each advanced to the 4A quarterfinals.
Coach: Lee Stanley
The Scorecard: Gone are some of the most dangerous players in the state in Fernando Ruiz and Christian Nunez. Without them, the program is looking to take a more team-oriented approach without the backstop of those superstars. Leading the way will be Jimmy Plampin, who is one of the few players with any varsity experience coming into the season. He had four goals and three assists last year. Stanley is also excited about Alejandro Arellano, one of four sophomore starters, as well as the scoring potential of Griffin Meere, who was a big producer at the JV level. The Warriors advanced to the 4A quarterfinals last season despite being the bracket’s 26th seed. They beat seventh-seed Holy Family 5-0 in the first round, then No. 10 Discovery Canyon 2-1 before falling to No. 2 Golden.
Coach: Jeff Vigil
The Scorecard: Vigil heads into his fourth year at the helm at Erie as he looks to build off his team’s second-round appearance in the 4A tournament last season. Junior Zach Crooks is back after leading the Tigers with 13 goals, as is fellow-classmate Evan Hutson, who had 11 goals and five assists. Other players to know include Cole Manuel, Grady Wolver, senior Blake Nemeth, senior Evan Harbaugh, junior Xander Fernandez, senior Trey Hollis and junior Zach Higgins. Notable freshmen include Gavin Stanesa, Grant Lund and Joey Knoll. Said Vigil: “The seniors were freshmen my first year at Erie, so we have four years of continuity. They have worked hard in the high school season and have committed to playing on high-level club teams to get where they are now. They have set the standard for the younger guys and we hope to build on the success we had last year.” The Tigers outscored opponents 57-29 last year.
Holy Family Tigers
Coach: David Martinez
The Scorecard: The Tigers won the Tri-Valley League the past two seasons, but seem to have even more competition in this new league. Dylan McIntosh is back after he was named second-team, all-state and the Tri-Valley League’s player of the year. He had 15 goals and 16 assists in 15 games. Garrett Havens will play in the attack, as will Jackson Ward. Jacob Heinis is a center defender, while his brother Zac will be in goal. Kiernan Opp, meanwhile, is up from the backline and is expected to join McIntosh at midfield, while Alex Kusek is turning into a dynamic threat in his second year on varsity. Last season, the Tigers won 13 games before getting upended by Centaurus in the opening round. Said Martinez: “Our teams in the past lacked experience in the playoffs and that played a major role in how we showed up. After three years together and playing better than ever, I see this team really making a strong run in the playoffs and being a contender for the championship.”
Coach: Andy Callaway
The Scorecard: The Trojans won four games last season, but that doesn’t mean that the postseason is far from thought. “This is Year 3 for this core group playing together at the varsity level,” Callaway said. “With seven returning starters and a few new faces to the program, (we) are out on a mission to get back to the playoffs after missing out the last two years. The new conference will be no walk in the park, but we are up to the challenge.” Key contributors should include seniors Connor Taylor, Bryan Saenz, Cesar Martinez, Josh Lock and Jordan Wheaton, among others. Juniors Teagan Fregosi, Gavin O’Brien and Bryan Miranda are also expected to fill large rolls, as is freshman Cole Gaddis.
Coach: Shane Adler
The Scorecard: The Mavericks were one of the better soccer stories in the state a season ago, going from just seven wins in the program’s first five years to 10 in 2019 alone. Now, they must take the leap into 4A and into a conference that looks stacked with talent. Diego Cordero had six goals and two assists and Fernando Contreras had six and one, and both are back for their senior seasons. Also returning is Sawyer Parker, who had five goals and two assists, and Josh Kurtz, who had four and one. Other players to know include Adyn Rusk, Winston Sears and Erik Torrez, among others.
Silver Creek Raptors
Coach: Rob Johnson
The Scorecard: The Raptors scored 67 times and allowed just 17 goals a season ago as they won the 4A Northern League and advanced all the way to the state quarterfinals. Now in Johnson’s fifth season at the helm, they’re moving up to 5A. Alex Sands is back in goal after allowing just 13 goals on 115 attempts across 1,427 minutes in net last year. EJ Davis, meanwhile, returns after scoring 10 goals and having four assists. On the backline, Carter Nicolaus should help the Raptors’ stingy defense and midfielders Andrew Van Ens and Brandon Larner should be a nice tandem in the midfield. Silver Creek graduated Dylan Weiss, who was among the most heralded players in 4A last year. He had 14 goals and nine assists in 2019.
Coach: Luis Chavez
The Scorecard: The Falcons graduated only three players from last year’s team, which bowed out to eventual 4A champ Skyview 2-1 in the opening round of the state playoffs. This year, they’ll go up to 5A. Alex Meza is back after scoring seven goals and four assists as a sophomore. His 18 points were only behind team-leader Gabriel Sosa, who had 14 goals and eight assists in his final season of high school. Back in goal is Riley Primeau, who made 88 saves in 1,100 minutes in net. Said Chavez: “Our goal and our hope during this unprecedented season is to work as hard as we can, to maintain a good, strong, and positive mindset as we work collaboratively, and to stay as calmed, composed, and positive as possible to not lose focus to face and overcome the upcoming challenges presented to us this year in a 4A/5A new cycle combination one game at the time.”
Class 4A/3A Longs Peak
Teams and trends: Berthoud, Fort Morgan, Frederick, Mountain View, Niwot, Northridge, Riverdale Ridge, Roosevelt, Severance, Thompson Valley. Niwot finished second in the 4A Northern League last season. Frederick was sixth in the 5A/4A/3A Tri-Valley League.
Numbers game: Niwot had seven players score multiple goals for them last season and finished with 37 in an 11-6 campaign. The Warriors had just four multi-goal guys, led by Zane Doehring’s 20, and they finished 6-9.
Coach: J Doehring
The Scorecard: Zane Doehring heads into his junior season after scoring 33 goals and totaling 18 assists in his first two years at Frederick. More of that will be needed. Alongside him are returners Wyatt Schroth, who’s a solid defender, as well as center midfielders Chris Serrano and Tony Garcia. Then there’s the multi-faceted Justin Livingston, whose coach says can play at every position. Last year, the Warriors were 5-4 before losing five of their last six. Said coach Doehring: “We hope to have some success this year as we have been building over the past few years. We have a great group of seniors providing the leadership we need. As a team we always seem to start out strong and then grades become an issue. If we can keep everyone eligible, we should have a good season.”
Coach: Stephen Dimit
The Scorecard: The Cougars, who finished second to Silver Creek in the 4A Northern League a season ago, hope to contend for a title in their new league, where they’ll play plenty of unfamiliar foes. Their attack of Keegan Stobbe, Aidan Martin and Ismael Dominguez combined for 29 goals and 28 assists in their past two seasons together. Stobbe was second in points on the team to the now-graduated Jared Osteen, who had 22 points on six goals and 10 assists. Martin, meanwhile, had eight goals and three assists, and Dominguez had three and four. Other players to know include senior midfielder Connor Grant and senior defender Carter Kruse. Last year, Niwot won 11 games and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs before falling to Golden.
3A METRO LEAGUE
Teams and trends: Bishop Machebeuf, Colorado Academy, Faith Christian, Jefferson Academy, Kent Denver, Lutheran, Manual, Peak to Peak, Prospect Ridge Academy, SkyView Academy, Stargate School. In the past six seasons Kent Denver has won five league titles, while Jefferson Academy won it in 2017.
2019 league leaders: Kent Denver’s Rawson Welch scored a league-high 18 goals and 18 assists, leading the way with 54 points. Teammate Pace Billings had 16 goals, while Max Hewitt had 11 assists. … Peak to Peak’s Michael Crotty, who returns, had a league-best 109 saves. Lutheran’s Gabriel Johnson was second with 95.
Numbers game: Kent Denver had 214 points off its 79 season goals thanks to 56 assists. Second in the league was Colorado Academy with 48 goals on 45 assists. Jefferson Academy led all area teams in the league with 100 points, totaling 35 goals on 30 assists.
Jefferson Academy Jaguars
Coach: Matt Cassell
The Scorecard: The Jaguars started last season with a juggernaut of a schedule as their first four games came against teams from bigger classifications. They included 5A Legacy and 4A strongarms Centaurus and Holy Family. They lost those, but eventually reached the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs after upsetting higher-ranked Middle Park in the opening round. They finished the season 9-8 and 7-3 in league, which put them fourth. This year, they return senior midfielder James Spitz, who had two goals and two assists in 2019. They also bring back junior forward Drew Smith, who had nine goals and six assists, as well as keeper Andrew Bauer.
Peak to Peak Pumas
Coach: James Wagenschutz
The Scorecard: Wagenschutz takes over a program that went 6-10 last year and 5-5 in the Metro League, good for sixth. He gains an experienced front with senior forwards Garrett Jackson, Trey Klinger and sophomore Ian Faussett. Midefielder Luke Crotty will help head the midfield, and at goalie, Michael Crotty returns after nabbing 109 saves in 1,280 minutes in 2019. Speaking of Crotty, the keeper, Wagenschutz said, “he’s exceptional in saving penalties and provides a solid emotional punch to the Pumas attack.” Added the coach: “With some new faces this year, including several freshmen, the Pumas are poised for years to come but have their eyes set on challenging for the Metro League title this spring.” Two of the freshmen expected to contribute are midfielder Jorden Gyaltsen and defender Eddie Castilleja.
Prospect Ridge Miners
Coach: Todd Schoeder
The Scorecard: The Miners have 10 returners who are multi-year varsity players. Junior Caleb Perruzza had six goals and three assists in his second season with varsity minutes. Seniors Andrew Cuss and Aaron Donohoe are also back after each scored a pair of goals in 2019. Griffin Hill is also back, but the coach said he is out with an injury. Others to watch include Justin Huffman, Jack Lucas, Matt Poshusta, Mikey Ungacta, Logan Webster and Tristen Zeidman. The strength of the team should revolve around their explosive attack led by sophomore Jack Haynes, who led the team with seven goals in 2019, and Perruzza. The midfield should do well in support with returners Donohoe and Ungacta heading the way. The Miners went 5-9-1 last season and finished 4-6 in league, good for seventh.
2A MILE HIGH WEST LEAGUE
Teams and trends: Campion Academy, Dawson School, Heritage Christian, Loveland Classical, Nederland, Union Colony Prep. This is a new league as Dawson and Nederland come out of the 2A Mile High League.
Numbers game: 56. That’s Dawson’s score differential from a season ago, when it won the Mile High League crown and reached the 2A state final, eventually falling to Ridgway.
Dawson School Mustangs
Coach: David Criswell
The Scorecard: The Mustangs graduated seven players from their 2019 2A runner-up squad, which included the talented midfield of Jesse Isenhart and Rio Sueyoshi. This year, senior Sam Freedman will lead the midfield and junior Nick Knobel will front the attack after he led the team with 20 goals a season ago. Third-year coach Criswell said the Mustangs must find a way to rebuild their backline and midfield after losing multiple starters at each position. So far, the coach said his senior class has helped keep a competitive and supportive culture alive at Dawson, which also has 10 new players to the program. Its new league will introduce it to 2019 conference foes in Heritage Christian, Nederland, and Union Colony Prep. New teams to face in league are Campion Academy and Loveland Classical.
Coach: Luis Gonzalez
The Scorecard: The Panthers are still building back after returning a soccer program in 2018, going without a team for three seasons. In 2018, their first year back, they won three games. Last year, they largely struggled, dropping all 13 on schedule. In 2021, they are expected to start with two non-league matchups in Front Range Christian and Rocky Mountain Lutheran, per MaxPreps, before diving into league play. They played each of those teams twice last year.
Cream of the crop: 2019 BoCoPreps.com All-region team
First Team (Name, 2020 class, school)
Mawolo Easton, Sr., Broomfield; Gustavo Gutierrez, Sr., Broomfield; Blake Hansen, Sr., Legacy; Christian Nunez, Sr., Centaurus; Fernando Ruiz, Sr., Centaurus; Arroll Taekla, Jr., Boulder; Jesse Isenhart, Sr., Dawson; Joey Joiner, Sr., Legacy; Jake Maurek, Sr., Legacy; Dylan McIntosh, Jr., Holy Family; Sebastien Mazur, Jr., Fairview; Sam Phillips, Sr., Boulder; Bishal Ellison, Sr., Boulder; Jake Ketchner, Sr., Fairview; Jacob Van Ens, Sr., Silver Creek; Carter Melton, Sr., Fairview; Jack Stoecker, Sr., Broomfield.
Colten Armstrong, Sr., Legacy; Ryan Bennett, Sr., Legacy; Micah Blackburn, Sr., Boulder; Ross Bosley, Sr., Silver Creek; Zach Crooks, So., Erie; Zane Doehring, So., Frederick; Jeff Fitzjohn, Sr., Erie; Sam Freedman, Jr., Dawson School; Patrick Grady, Jr., Peak to Peak; Cole Greany, Sr., Holy Family; Brandon Hansen, Sr., Legacy; Jack Haynes, Fr., Prospect Ridge Academy; Evan Hutson, So., Erie; Aidan James, Sr., Legacy; Andrew Kehmeier, Sr., Legacy; Carter Kruse, Jr., Niwot; Josh Kurtz, So., Mead; Raudel Manjarrez, Sr., Centaurus; Cole Manuel, Jr., Erie; Sebastien Mazur, Jr., Fairview; Salvador Medrano, Sr., Skyline; Alex Mercier, Sr., Fairview; Blake Nemeth, Jr., Erie; Jackson Osborn, Sr., Centaurus; Jared Osteen, Sr., Niwot; Kyle Pardoe, Jr., Holy Family; Ander Poitras-Lazcano, Sr., Silver Creek; Anthony Quidachay, Sr., Legacy; Jonas Ricke, Jr., Dawson School; Dhani Russell, Sr., Silver Creek; Alex Sands, Jr., Silver Creek; Wyatt Schroth, Jr., Frederick; Andrew Smith, So., Jefferson Academy; Gabriel Sosa, Sr., Skyline; Manuel Soto, Sr., Niwot; Keegan Stobbe, Jr., Niwot; Rio Sueyoshi, Sr., Dawson School; Connor Taylor, Jr., Longmont; Alex Troso, Sr., Holy Family; Andrew Van Ens, So., Silver Creek; Dylan Weiss, Sr., Silver Creek.