Video: TOC Boys Soccer - Boulder (CO)
Boulder comes in a state favorite after winning the 5A title last season.
Given that five of the eight quarterfinalists in the Class 5A state boys soccer playoffs came from the Front Range League last fall, it wouldn't be a stretch to say the league would be a challenge in 2017.
That goes without saying — every year, the FRL isn't for the faint of heart.
But a little more than two weeks into this season, the Front Range may have found a way to raise the bar a little higher. The most recent CHSAANow.com rankings had five of the top six spots in 5A going to FRL squads, and that didn't include a Monarch team that is off to a 3-0-1 start, knotting up 2016 semifinalist Fossil Ridge in a Sept. 7 scoreless tie.
Defending champion Boulder, along with Broomfield, Fort Collins, Fossil Ridge and Fairview each were in the top six. The only non-Front Range team was No. 2 Denver East.
Rankings obviously don't account for much, and those numbers change as teams delve deeper into the league season. Broomfield alone has consecutive games against Fairview, Fossil Ridge and Monarch to close the month.
But the 5A classification is far from just about the Front Range. East is off to a 5-0 start, and Grandview moved to 4-1 after upending the Far Northeast Warriors 2-0 on Monday. Douglas County and Gateway were a combined 10-0 headed into Tuesday's games.
Eight teams in 4A had unblemished records going into this week. Air Academy and Durango are ranked in the top two spots, though Windsor, Kennedy and Denver North also sported 5-0 records.
In 3A, the 2016 finalists — Kent Denver and Jefferson Academy — are a combined 7-0 and play each other Thursday night.
With that in mind, here is a quick glance at each of the state's three classifications through the early portion of the non-league schedule headed into the second half of September:
Defending Champion: BoulderEarly look:
Five players share the goal-scoring lead at seven each. Dillon O'Connor
of Castle View (Castle Rock)
has done it in two games. … Douglas County (Castle Rock)
is perhaps the state's best story early in September. The Huskies were 0-14-1 in 2016, but have outscored opponents 18-3 through six games. Senior Bradley Van Egeren
has seven of those goals. … Eight players have scored goals for Denver East
, led by six from senior Sam Carson
. Goalkeeper Victor Yague Izquierdo
has allowed one goal through five games. … Boulder's Omar Castruita
has six goals and two assists in five games. The Panthers have already defeated Broomfield and Fairview and played Fort Collins to a 1-1 tie.Returning All-State Players:
Sam Carson, Sr., Denver East (1st team); Omar Castruita, Jr., Boulder (1st team); Mathew Rhoads
, Sr., Fort Collins
(2nd team); Eric Thompson
, Sr., Fort Collins (2nd team).Upcoming games to watch:
Hinkley at Gateway, 4:30 p.m., Sept. 14; Douglas County at Castle View, 6:45 p.m., Sept. 14; Fossil Ridge at Broomfield, 6 p.m., Sept. 26; Fort Collins at Fairview, 6 p.m., Sept. 26; Arapahoe at Grandview, 4 p.m., Sept. 28.Class 4A
Defending Champion: The Classical Academy (Colorado Springs)Early look: Garrett Kramer
of Sand Creek (Colorado Springs)
leads the state with 11 goals and has three assists to go along with that. Sophomore teammate Alan Bautista
has eight goals and five assists. … Windsor
was the No. 30 seed in the 4A state playoffs last fall, but the Wizards have been tough early. Senior Waseem Jimenez
has seven goals and four assists to pace the team headed into Tri-Valley League play. … Kristian Hooker
of Air Academy (US Air Force Academy)
leads the Kadets with seven goals. Air Academy opened with a victory over defending state champion The Classical Academy, and has handed both Montrose and Grand Junction their only losses thus far. … Durango
has back-to-back road trip to face Grand Junction and Montrose next week. Five players have scored at least two goals, paced by Eli Fenton's
five goals. … The Denver Prep League boasts four undefeated teams, including 5A's East. Kennedy, North and Thomas Jefferson are a combined 14-0, meaning October should be a fun time to catch some DPL action.Returning All-State Players:
Eli Fenton, Sr., Durango (2nd team); Juan Macias
, Sr., Battle Mountain (Edwards)
(1st team); Ryan Pierce, Jr., Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch)
(2nd team); Dylan Stanley, Sr., Pueblo West
(2nd team); Brandon Staple
, Sr., Longmont
(2nd team).Upcoming games to watch:
Kennedy at Sand Creek, 6 p.m., Sept. 12; Niwot at Peak to Peak (3A), 4:30 p.m., Sept. 12; D'Evelyn at Cheyenne Mountain, 6:30 p.m., Sept. 12; Battle Mountain at The Classical Academy, 7 p.m., Sept. 15; Durango at Montrose, 5 p.m., Sept. 20.Class 3A
Defending Champion: Kent Denver (Englewood)Early look: Bryan Ascencio
of Jefferson (Edgewater)
leads 3A with 10 goals in five games, though Jeremy Arriola
of Lotus School For Excellence (Aurora)
isn't far behind with nine. Fountain Valley (Colorado Springs)
freshman Riki Fujimoto
has 11 assists. … Second-ranked Jefferson Academy (Broomfield)
is entering a tough stretch. The Jaguars play three top-10 teams the rest of the month, including No. 6 Colorado Springs Christian and No. 1 Peak to Peak this week. The Jags haven't allowed a goal through four games. … Kent Denver needed two overtimes to get past CSCS on Sept. 7 in a rematch of last year's semifinals. Sophomore Max Hewitt
had the game-winning goal. … Eagle Ridge Academy is off to a 5-0 start, shutting out 2016 semifinalist KIPP Denver Collegiate 3-0 on Monday.Returning All-State Players: AJ Arroyo
, Sr., Jefferson Academy (1st team); Larson Baker
, Sr., Colorado Academy (Denver)
(1st team); Jorge Gurrola, Sr., KIPP Denver Collegiate
(2nd team); Galen Kelly
, Sr., Fountain Valley (2nd team); Brendan Lefkowicz
, Sr., Peak to Peak (Lafayette)
(1st team); Victor Ponce De Leon
, Sr., Arrupe Jesuit (Denver)
(2nd team); Lookens Smith
, Jr., Colorado Springs Christian
(2nd team).Upcoming games to watch:
Kent Denver at Jefferson Academy, 7 p.m., Sept. 14; Manitou Springs at Colorado Springs Christian, 4 p.m., Sept. 21; DSST-Stapleton at The Pinnacle, 4 p.m., Sept. 27; The Academy at KIPP Denver Collegiate, 11 a.m., Sept. 30.