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Niwot High School junior receiver Craig ...
Daily Camera file photo
Niwot’s Craig Wright is coming off a 2020 season where he caught 20 passes for 465 yards and six touchdowns.

League and team outlook

North Central 2 League
Teams and trends: Frederick, Holy Family, Mead, Skyview and Thompson Valley. Holy Family and Mead were the only two teams in the league to qualify for the 3A state playoffs last year. The Tigers won one game in the postseason before being eliminated whereas Mead never got to play a playoff game due to a COVID quarantine. Frederick, Holy Family and Mead all made the postseason in 2019 as well.
Numbers game: Holy Family’s offense soared high and above much of the 3A competition across the state as the Tigers 321 points, just two points behind the 3A leader in The Classical Academy and nearly 50 points ahead of state champion Durango. They scored a second-best 44 touchdowns en route to those marks, also behind only TCA. Special teams led the entire state of 3A with 51 points and 3,599 kickoff yards.

Frederick Warriors
Coach: Travis Peeples
The Scorecard: The Warriors return a strong core of stats leaders from last year, including senior DE Chris Baum, seniors QB Bryce Conover, OL/DL Trevin McClain, DE Andru Sonntag, LB John Pankoff, RB Parker Ayres, DE/TE Alex Sturn, LB Mikey Espindola, and juniors OL Hunter Kenney,  OL Gabriel Maes, RB Cruz Zamudio, RB River Lakey and FS Kooper Andersen. “It’s a very solid group that we expect can compete for a conference championship and beyond with the biggest OL and DL players in size in a long time,” Peeples said. “The kids have committed to the weight room and we have a very strong team overall.”

Holy Family Tigers
Coach: Mike Gabriel
The Scorecard: The Tigers dominated their 2020 slate as they went undefeated in regular-season play and decimated No. 7 seed Evergreen in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs as the No. 2 seed. They ultimately fell to eventual state champion Durango in the semifinals, however. They’ll boast a lot of that offensive and defensive firepower with seniors TE/DE Dominic Mazzulla, RB/DB Jacob Lawver, WR/DB Blake Neece, RB/LB Pierce Kunz, LB Brady Samaras, LB Jared Delgado, LB Dominic Neely, OL/DL John Hulquest and OL/DL Jacob Barry. “Excitement doesn’t really explain the feeling I have about this team,” Gabriel said. “I’ve known most of these boys since they were in grade school, playing sports with my children, so the opportunity to now see them as seniors and be a part of their lives and football journey gives me great pride.”

Mead Mavericks
Coach: Jason Klatt
The Scorecard: The Mavericks finished their regular season 2020 slate strong as a 5-1 league record earned them a bid to the Class 3A state playoffs. They did not play that playoff game, however, having to forfeit their postseason opener to Pueblo South due to COVID protocols. They’ll welcome back plenty of talented players in seniors QB Gavin Garrettson, LB/RB Corby Tecu, DE/RB Evan Morris, OL Dante Gavito, OL Dalton Brown, TE Will Tenore, LB Jeremiah Strizki, DL Tommy Tatham, DB Lane Beumer, and junior OLs Zach Dibella and Kannon Garrettson. “We’re trying to reach our full potential,” Klatt said.

North Central 3 League
Teams and trends: Fort Morgan, Mountain View, Niwot, Northridge and Roosevelt. Fort Morgan and Roosevelt, the only two teams from the league to qualify for the playoffs last year, faced off in the first round. Roosevelt narrowly knocked off Fort Morgan by a 17-16 final. Fort Morgan and Roosevelt were also the only two league teams to qualify for the playoffs in 2019.
Numbers game: Roosevelt’s offense stood out among the Class 3A competition as the Roughriders put up a classification-best 1,403 passing yards; fourth-best 285 points and 40 touchdowns; and second-best 3,063 total yards. They led all of 3A in PATs with 39 made and scored a second-best 45 points on special teams.

Niwot Cougars
Coach: Nik Blume
The Scorecard: The Cougars will rely on a solid senior core this year with WR/DB Craig Wright, RB/DB Easten Leatherwood, RB/LB Thomas Carnegie, OL/DL Bryce Nemec, QB/LB Ben Classen, OL/DL Brad Bair and WR/DB Jackson Ackerman. “We return many starters on both sides of the ball and with all the extra time for offseason preparation compared to the (COVID) season, we are very confident headed into week one,” Blume said. “Depth will be a concern again this season as the roster has roughly 33 players right now. The excitement level has been high and was tangible at the Northfield Scrimmage (last week).”

Daily Camera file photo
Frederick’s Cruz Zamudio, bottom, takes out Mead’s Will Tenore during a game Nov. 13, 2020. Both players return for their respective teams in 2021.