League and team outlook
Northern 1 League
Teams and trends: Brighton, Broomfield, Erie, Greeley West, Silver Creek, Windsor. The league replaces 2020 league team Heritage with Greeley West. Broomfield, which won the league in 2020, was the lone Northern League team to reach the condensed 4A postseason field. The Eagles clinched their spot, beating Windsor in the regular-season finale as Mathew Eich hit a game-winning, 27-yard field goal in overtime.
2021 league leaders: Passing yards: Logan Veeder, Silver Creek (1,259); Passing TDs: Cole LaCrue*, Broomfield (10); Receiving yards: Eli Bowman, Brighton (529); Receiving TDs: Josh Dunn*, Broomfield (7); Rushing yards: Mason Veve, Erie (775); Rushing TDs: Dax Polka*, Windsor (13); Tackles: Jared Meltzner, Heritage (87); Sacks: Zaine Hood, Brighton (4); Interceptions: Bowman (5).
Numbers game: Erie had the most rushing yards per game with 275.6 and ran for 7.8 yards per carry a season ago, scoring 19 times on 213 attempts. Broomfield had the highest overall passing rating (103.5) as starter Cole LaCrue led the way with 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions.
*Eligible to return in 2021
Coach: Blair Hubbard
The Scorecard: The Eagles went 5-1 and won the league last fall with their lone loss coming to eventual 4A state champ Loveland in the opening round of the postseason. From it, they return a rising talent in junior QB Cole LaCrue, who threw for 1,017 yards and 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions in six games. His favorite target from 2020 is back, too, in senior WR Josh Dunn. The son of the school’s basketball coach Terrence Dunn had 452 receiving yards and caught seven TDs. Elsewhere, the Eagles have other solid returnees in senior S Miles Dondelinger and senior OLB Blake Naranjo, who helped the defense stymie league opponents to just 13.7 points per game. Senior OL Morgen Watt, who is also a three-time state qualifier in wrestling, returns as well. Others to watch include junior defender Holden Potter and senior TE/WR Tristan Caudill.
Coach: Jeff Giger
The Scorecard: There should be plenty of excitement surrounding the Tigers this fall. Following former headman Chad Cooper’s promotion within the school, they landed Giger as their next football coach. Giger’s impressive resumè includes a long and successful tenure at Strasburg before going to Brighton, where he helped rebuild the program while leading the Bulldogs to back-to-back winning seasons. Returning for Erie is senior T/DE John Pastore, who recently committed to Kansas State. The Tigers also bring back senior RB/DB Caleb Theisen, senior LB/OL Ryan McConnell, senior WR/LB Aidan Achtziger and senior LB Gavin Malek. Others to watch include senior WB/DB Gauge Nichols, junior DB/RB Trey Khanna, junior OL Logan Gilmore, sophomore QB Blake Barnett, sophomore DL Jackson Cowgill and junior QB Evan Rearick.
Silver Creek Raptors
Coach: Brian McGee
The Scorecard: Silver Creek, although unable to win a game last season, has a lot of nice talent back in hopes of improving this fall. Among them, senior WR/S Eli Hubert averaged a luxurious 15.6 yards per reception in 2020 and had 468 receiving and 860 all-purpose yards. Senior ILBs/slot receivers Rodrigo Ordonez and Tanner Stevens had 67 and 44 tackles, respectively. Other returners are seniors OT/ILB Pepi Dostal, OL/DL Braden Tanner, WR/S Bridger Sutherland, OL/DL Jordan Dezell, as well as juniors OL/DL Wyatt Kling, OL/DL Patrick Fay and OL/DL Maddax Schafer. Among those to keep an eye out for is 6-foot senior QB Bryce Gorr.
Northern 2 League
Teams and trends: Grand Junction Central, Greeley Central, Longmont, Loveland, Monarch, Skyline. Loveland won the league last year en route to winning the 4A state title. Longmont was second at 3-1 in league and 3-3 overall. Skyline (3-2, 4-2) and Monarch (1-3, 2-4) finished ahead of Greeley Central and former league team Greeley West. Grand Junction Central was not in the league a season ago.
2020 league leaders: Passing yards and TDs: Keegan Patterson*, Longmont (1,968, 14); Receiving yards: Caleb Johnson*, Longmont (832); Receiving TDs: Johnson, Logan Miller (Skyline) and Nick Peterson (Skyline) each had 4. Rushing yards and TDs: Zack Rakowsky, Loveland (1,393, 19); Tackles and sacks: Ian Loomis*, Loveland (105, four); Interceptions: Tyson Williams*, Loveland (5).
Numbers game: Longmont had the fourth-highest passing yards per game in the state last season with 332.7, just behind Vista Ridge (365.8), Smoky Hill (362.9) and Fairview (336.4). Patterson led the way with a 68% completion percentage, tossing for nearly 2,000 yards with 14 passing touchdowns.
*Eligible to return in 2021
Coach: Doug Johnson
The Scorecard: QB/S Keegan Patterson leads the returning players for Johnson’s squad after he threw for nearly 2,000 yards and rushed for another 282 with a total of 26 TDs in six games. Joining him is slot/CB Caleb Johnson, who led the team with 77 catches, 832 yards and four TDs last fall. Fellow slot/CB Justice Lillie is back too after he had 33 catches for 314 yards and a score. He also had a team-leading three interceptions. Elsewhere, the Trojans bring back WR/S Jack Moll, who had two picks and 33 tackles, LB/TE/FB Kale Derksen, sophomore LB/TE/FB Cole Gaddis, senior OL/DL Sam Adams, junior OL/DL Noah Atherton, senior OL Emi Gonzalez, sophomore DL Grant Cummins, senior OL Kinnick Manley, junior DB Gael Garcia and sophomore OL/DL Hunter Knight. “We expect to get in the playoffs and win in the playoffs,” coach Johnson said.
Coach: Phil Bravo
The Scorecard: Bravo, in his 24th year at Monarch, has solid depth at the running back position, including senior speedster Keiran Singh (TB/DB), who the coach said is looking at Wake Forest, Rice and Vanderbilt for football. Other returning starters include junior DT Jimmy Grace, senior TE/DE Charlie Williams, senior FB/NG Zach Ferrera, senior TB/LB Cole Carlucci, junior TB/LB Griffyn Weber and senior DE Brian Waugh. Among newcomers to look for include a trio of junior linemen in OG Stone Deborski, OT Max Ray and OT Jack Macias. Bravo said his team is “young but solid up front”— a good thing for any team, but that’s especially true for the Coyotes who have long relied on their 300-plus win coach’s double-wing running attack.
Coach: Mike Silva
The Scorebook: From a team that went 4-2 a season ago, Silva loses star QB Chase Silva, as well as RB Grayden Bridwell, who was the league’s player of the year alongside Loveland’s Zach Rakowsky. But the Falcons do bring back four all-conference players in OG Adrian Rabun, OT Anthony Renick, slot WR Logan Miller, and DT Jose Ibarra, who was the league’s defensive player of the year alongside Loveland’s Ian Loomis. Other returners include OLB Wynn Drewes, MLB Tony Muniz and MLB Maddox Legget. There’s also C Evan King, G/DE Francisco Aranday, NT/OT Kaleb Allen, TE/Y Chuck Harris and WR Dilan Bridwell. “We just have to really step up in the areas where we graduated some really key players,” coach Silva said. “If we do that, we have a chance to be really tough to beat.”
Metro 2 League
Teams and trends: Aurora Central, Centaurus, Denver South, Gateway, Grand Junction, Vista PEAK Prep. Centaurus is joining an entirely new league after it played last spring with the 4A North League, which included Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Kennedy, Denver North and Lincoln. It is rejoined with 2019 4A Pioneer League foe Vista PEAK Prep.
Numbers game: Centaurus rushed for more than 190 yards in three of its six regular-season games in the spring. All three were wins. With a closer look, the Warriors had 258 against Sierra, 229 against Denver North, and 191 versus Lincoln. In their three losses, meanwhile, they ran for less than 100 yards.
Coach: Andy Hampton
The Scorecard: The Warriors find themselves back on the gridiron less than four months after they fell to Harrison in the first round of the spring postseason. Returning from that group is senior QB Coleman Teasdale. As a junior, Teasdale led the team in passing and rushing in their six regular-season games. He threw for 643 yards with two touchdowns and ran for 392 with six more scores. He’ll be joined by senior OL/P Harian Aldama, senior DL Egan Rausch, senior S Bryan Serrano, senior CB Logan Mutz, senior TE Angus Reichert, senior WR Nathen Rodriguez, senior DL Alex Robles and senior 2020 all-North League selection C/OL Spencer Mickelberry. Others to watch for include seniors in WR Jack Downing and RB Anthony Medina.