Football: Class 4A/3A playoff capsules

Mead, Frederick, Holy Family begin respective postseason journeys

Holy Family High Rylan Cooney School's ...
Daily Camera file photo
Holy Family High School’s Rylan Cooney (No. 8) throws under pressure from Frederick High School on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.

No. 18 Longmont at No. 2 Dakota Ridge
Details: Friday, 7 p.m., Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood
Forecast: After defeating Broomfield for a second time this season last week, Longmont goes on the road to face a tremendously talented DRHS coming off a bye. The Trojans were efficient on offense and defense in allowing the BHS Eagles just 22 points, but the discipline will have to be amplified against Dakota Ridge, which relies on the speed of Noah Triplett (24 rushing touchdowns) and a stable of effective receivers. The teams have not met since 2010, according to MaxPreps’ game records.
Difference-maker: Caleb Johnson. No matter how you slice it, Johnson has been effective within the LHS offensive scheme and he surpassed 100 receptions for the season in last week’s game.

No. 12 Fruita Monument at No. 5 Erie 
Details: Friday, 7 p.m., Erie High School
Forecast: After earning a bye week, Erie’s offense gets a chance to display its explosiveness against a Fruita Monument team that allows 23 points a game on average. However, the Wildcats also posted an impressive 63 points against Brighton in their playoff opener, a number that certainly put EHS on notice ahead of game week preparations. The Tigers are looking for their first playoff win at the 4A level, and first since the 2018 season.
Difference-maker: Blake Barnett. Erie has not had a quarterback like Barnett — a true gunslinger who can make reads and utilize every single option he has. He’s approaching 2,000 passing yards and has accounted for 39 TDs.

No. 12 Northridge at No. 5 Mead 
Details: Friday, 7 p.m., Mead High School
Forecast: The Mavericks were humbled by Frederick last week in their regular season finale, but this team is ready for playoff football after missing out in 2020 because of COVID-19 protocols. They surely have a bit of confidence entering a rematch game against Northridge, as Mead earned a 42-0 shutout of the Grizzlies back on Sept. 17. In that game, Evan Morris logged 2 1/2 sacks, 100 yards of offense and two TDs.
Difference-maker: Corby Tecu. The lacrosse star plays hard in football, too, and Tecu has had a couple of huge games back-to-back, going for 141 and 208 yards of offense along with three total TDs.

No. 11 Pueblo County at No. 6 Frederick 
Details: Friday, 7 p.m., Frederick High School
Forecast: The Warriors posted at least 35 points in eight games this season, but FHS also didn’t have the strongest schedule (opponent winning percentage of just .354). In Pueblo County, the Warriors face a team that likes to keep the ball on the ground and control possession — which has been effective in carrying the Hornets to a 7-3 record. Despite FHS’ penchant for being run-heavy, they’re arguably a much more explosive team.
Difference-maker(s): The trifecta of River Lakey, Cruz Zamudio and Parker Ayres. Each rushed for more than 100 yards last week against Mead, together averaging a ridiculous eight yards a touch.

No. 9 Pueblo South at No. 8 Holy Family 
Details: Friday, 6 p.m., Holy Family High School
Forecast: Another rematch in the playoffs despite the Tigers and Colts being distant foes. Holy Family carried some swagger down to Pueblo way back on Aug. 27 and handed PSHS a 34-27 loss. It’s been a roller coaster for the Tigers since in going 6-4 overall, but they’ll have a fire in their bellies after being handled pretty good last week at Fort Morgan.
Difference-maker: Dominic Mazzulla. The senior has had a crazy-good season at tight end, snagging 43 catches for 800 yards and 9 TDs after entering 2021 with two career grabs. He’s also contributed defensively with 32 tackles.