Class 5 A
4A No. 5 Loveland (10-2) vs. Fossil Ridge (5-6)*
when whereThursday at 7pm at Timnath Stadium
last meeting: Loveland 28, 10 at Fossil Ridge, October 30, 2009
After a promising finish last season (4-2 in last six games), the SaberCats enter the 2022 season looking to produce their first winning campaign since 2016. Quarterback Tyler Kubat (3,116 yards, 27 TDs in ’21) returns taking snaps. Lots of weapons at his disposal, including colorful receiver Mack Busteed (1,154 yards, 11 TDs). A Week 1 date with Loveland, consistently one of Class 4A’s top defensive teams, provides the perfect barometer.
No. 4 Regis Jesuit (8-4) vs. No. 2 Valor Christian (13-1)
when where: Friday at Valor Stadium at 7 p.m
last meeting: Valor 24, at Regis Jesuit 6, August 27, 2021
The state’s top private school football powers meet in Week 1 for the second straight year, providing an early glimpse at the 5A pecking order. Valor lost a large amount of production from last year’s 5A runner-up team and has a new leader — former Chatfield coach Brett McGatlin. On the other hand, Regis brings back dual-threat QB Alexander Carroll, CU-bound tight end Andrew Metzger and Nebraska linebacker Hayden Moore as it looks to replace Valor as Cherry Creek’s leading threat to 5A supremacy.
5A No. 8 Legends (11-2) vs. 4A No. 6 Vista Ridge (7-4)
when where: Friday at Vista Ridge at 7 p.m
last meeting: Vista Ridge 46, vs. Legend 0, October 3, 2008
Legend coach Monte Thelen’s methodical rebuilding has produced four consecutive playoff campaigns at Parker, including back-to-back 5A state semifinal trips the past two years. Now comes the hard part: maintaining that success, the Titans must now replace all but two. The first is a matchup with perhaps the best passing tandem in the state: Arizona-bound quarterback Brayden Dorman and Washington State wide receiving play Brandon Hills.
No. 1 Cherry Creek (12-2) vs. No. 6 Ralston Valley (9-3)
when where: Friday at 7:30 PM at NAAC Stadium
last meeting: Cherry Creek 24, vs. Ralston Valley 16, Nov. 16, 2018
For the first time in program history, Ralston Valley will take the field without Matt Lloyd as coach. Now, it’s former Golden owner Jared Yanacito’s team, and he gets the most challenging introduction 5A football can imagine: the three-time defending 5A champion Bruins. Creek begins the season as the consensus No. 1 team in the CHSAANow.com rankings, its roster loaded with FBS talent as head coach Dave Logan enters his 11th season at Greenwood Village.
Class 4 a
No. 4 Palmer Ridge (10-2) vs. No. 2 Montrose (12-1)
when where: Friday at Montrose 6 p.m
last meeting: Montrose 28, Palmer Ridge 21, on October 1, 2021
Months after seeing their bid for perfection end in the state semifinals, the Red Hawks host Palmer Ridge in a season-opening showdown of expected 4A contenders. The Red Hawks spent most of last season rushing everything in their path, but with four of their top five rushers lost to graduation, new impact players must emerge. Palmer Ridge also has some reloading to do, but behind QB Derek Hester (2,345 yards, 25 TDs passing), big things are expected.
No. 7 Ponderosa (7-5) vs. No. 1 Erie (13-1)
when where: Friday at Erie 7 p.m
last meeting: N/A
Erie begins its quest to return to the 4A state championship with a home matchup against one of the most consistent contenders in the classification. The Mustangs have reached the playoffs eight straight seasons, but are coming off a 7-5 season that saw them lose four of their last six games. The Tigers, meanwhile, fell a Hail Mary short of the 4A crown, but quarterback Blake Barnett, one of three QBs in the state with 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing, returns last fall.
No. 3 Dakota Ridge (11-1) vs. No. 9 Pueblo West (1-0 in 2022)
when where: Friday at Pueblo West 7 p.m
last meeting: Pueblo West 31, Dakota Ridge 7, Sept. 22, 2017
No, that is not a false impression. The Cyclones are one of four teams that have already played a regular season game this year — a 42-22 demolition of Grand Junction that saw them churn out 382 yards of offense. Now they get a Dakota Ridge team that hasn’t lost in the regular season since Week 10 of the 2019 season. Keep an eye on senior running back Noah Triplett, who rushed for 1,551 yards and 28 touchdowns last fall.
Class 3 a
No. 7 Palisade (9-3) vs. No. 2 Roosevelt (12-1)
when where: Friday at Roosevelt 6 p.m
last meeting: Palisade 17, vs. Roosevelt 14, Nov. 11, 2017
A hazy 3A picture will gain some clarity with this matchup of title contenders. Roosevelt has reached the 3A finals and semifinals in consecutive seasons, thanks in large part to a stout defense that has allowed just 10.4 points per game since 2020. That unit will get a tough test out of the gate against Palisade, which brings back a pair. 1,000-yard rushers in quarterback Malachi Espinosa and running back Fallen Salvati.
No. 6 Holy Family (6-6) vs. No. 8 Frederick (9-2)
when where: Friday at Frederick 7 p.m
last meeting: Holy Family 42, vs. Frederick 35 (OT), October 14, 2021
The Matt Lloyd era began in Frederick, with the former Ralston Valley head coach taking over a Golden Eagles program that built on last year’s 9-2 performance. His first game will be a rematch of last year’s overtime thriller, which produced a career game with 326 yards and six touchdowns on 13-of-18 passing from then-sophomore quarterback Rylan Cooney.
* All records for the 2021 season unless otherwise noted.