4A League 1
Teams and trends: Grand Junction Central, Greeley Central, Loveland, Skyline and Windsor. Four teams north of Denver and one on the western slope comprise this league and many didn’t record a winning record in 2021. Skyline barely ended its season above .500 at 6-5 with a trip to the Class 4A state playoffs as Loveland took its campaign all the way to the quarterfinals, finishing with a 10-2 record.
Coach: Mike Silva
The Scorecard: The Falcons look forward to a season that they hope won’t be riddled with adversity a year after losing their quarterback to injury early in the season and after the death of a teammate. Senior quarterback Kaiden Box returns to the pocket after a broken collarbone sidelined him. Despite missing four games, he still led the Falcons with 1,041 passing yards on 78 completions. He’ll have help from seniors slot WR Logan Miller (477 yards on 82 carries), MLB Maddox Legget (92 tackles), DE Cisco Aranday (six pancake blocks), CB Evan King (66 tackles) and Giancarlo Barron (55 interception yards), all of whom earned all-conference nods as juniors.
4A League 2
Teams and trends: Erie, Greeley West, Longmont, Monarch, Silver Creek. The class of the division as of now appears to be Erie, which is fresh off a 4A title game appearance from 2021. Last season, Longmont reached the second round while Monarch, Silver Creek and Greeley West did not reach the playoffs.
Coach: Jeff Giger
The Scorecard: Erie quarterback Blake Barnett, already a three-star recruit as a junior per 247Sports, returns with two more years of high school remaining. The dual-threat QB threw for 2,560 yards, ran for 1,049 and totaled 51 touchdowns last fall while leading the Tigers to the 4A title game. The team lost to Chatfield on a last-second TD throw. He will be accompanied by senior RB Trey Khanna, who backed up Caleb Theisen a season ago, as well as wide receiver Caden Lettis, who caught 25 passes for eight touchdowns, and juniors TE/OLB Mason Cowgill and DE/OT/TE Jackson Cowgill. Their offensive line will be headed by Logan Gilmore and Jackson Clancy.
Coach: Doug Johnson
The Scorecard: The Trojans will look a bit different this year after the exit of three-year starting quarterback Keegan Patterson. Sophomore Kolby Holmes, who played junior varsity last season, will replace him at the helm. He’ll have plenty of seasoned varsity players to help guide him, thanks to guys like junior Cole Gaddis, senior defensive end Griffin Taylor, senior tackle Noah Atherton, junior Grant Cummins, junior defensive tackle Hunter Knight and senior strong safety Gael Garcia. Gaddis led the returners with 75 total tackles as Garcia and Cummins followed his lead with 58 and 45 tackles, respectively.
Coach: Aaron Paddock
The Scorecard: The Coyotes have a new coach in Aaron Paddock, the longtime assistant to coach Phil Bravo, who retired last fall. The team has 26 seniors and return 20 players who started at least one game during the 2021 season. Among them are linemen in senior standout Jimmy Grace, senior Max Ray and junior Riley Hall. Their quarterback Asher Ewing is back, as are all-conference players in seniors RB/OLB Tres McMahon, RB/DB Aidan Murray, slot/LB Griffyn Weber and junior WR/DB Owen Mellish. “We are hopeful that we can compete for a league championship and qualify for the playoffs,” Paddock said.
Silver Creek Raptors
Coach: Brian McGee
The Scorecard: The Raptors believe they can be a postseason team just two seasons after going 0-7 during the pandemic 2020 year. From last fall’s 4-6 team, they return junior QB/FS Elijah Mires, senior FS/QB Luke Riters and senior lineman Maddax Schaefer, who has been a two-way lineman the past two seasons. Defensively, Schaefer had 35 tackles, four for loss, and 4.5 sacks last fall. They also have a nice running back talent in junior Cole Rogers, who McGee described as the kind of player that can “make your offense look good even when things don’t go exactly to plan.”
4A League 7
Teams and trends: Adams City, Aurora Central, Broomfield, Fruita Monument and Heritage. Aurora Central, Broomfield and Fruita Monument all reached the postseason last fall. Fruita Monument won its first-round game over Brighton before falling to Erie. Aurora Central lost to Ponderosa and the Eagles fell to Longmont. Adams City and Heritage combined to go 6-14.
Coach: Blair Hubbard
The Scorecard: Broomfield is fresh off its sixth straight appearance to the postseason, where it fell to Longmont in a first-round thriller. From that team, the Eagles return senior quarterback Cole LaCrue, who has gained Division-I interest over the past year. He threw for 2,365 yards and 21 touchdowns to just five interceptions as a junior. He’ll be accompanied by Kadin Quintana, who rushed for 775 yards on 148 carries last fall. Helping lead the defense, meanwhile, will be senior linemen Garrett Keeler and Devin Furuiye, both off years in which they each had 54 tackles.
4A League 8
Teams and trends: Centaurus, Gateway, Hinkley, Liberty, Palmer, Thornton and Widefield. The league is made up of a pair of Denver and Colorado Springs teams, as well as Thornton and Centaurus. None of the teams had a winning record last season. Gateway, Hinkley and Liberty were all winless. Widefield, Thornton and Centaurus each had four wins, while Palmer had two.
Coach: Andy Hampton
The Scorecard: The Warriors, who are looking for their first winning season since 2015, have a nice young quarterback talent in junior Chance Wood, who split duties under center last season and threw for 946 yards with a 68% completion rate. He’ll have wide receiver Ethan Roeder at his disposal. The senior caught 20 balls for 246 yards and two touchdowns last season. Back at running back is Ben Mischke, the three-sport athlete who had six yards per carry last fall and ran for 688 yards and four TDs. Their secret weapon, though, may be senior Zack Wojtalik, who the coach said could play up to eight positions in 2022, including defensive end, tight end, linebacker and long snapper.