VIDEO: Skyline's Jeremy Hollingsworth this season against Loveland. The Falcons meet Pine Creek in the top Class 4A game this week.
It's often said that familiarity breeds contempt.
While the word contempt may be on the strong side, there's no denying that teams get up just a little bit more for rivalries. Which is why this weekend's quarterfinal round of the Class 5A state playoffs is that much more interesting.
Three of the four games feature rematches between league opponents. In some cases, that includes teams that have been going toe-to-toe for years, whether it's for bragging rights, a league title, or in some cases, even bigger stakes.
Take Jeffco rivals Columbine (Littleton)
and Pomona (Arvada)
, which face off at 7 p.m. Friday at Jeffco Stadium. The two teams have ended each other's season in seven of the previous 12 seasons, soon to be eight out of 13. The Rebels knocked out Pomona from 2006-08, with the Panthers returning the favor in 2012 and 2014-16.
"When we play Columbine it normally doesn't come down to tricks. It comes down to dudes. It's a been a lot of fun over the years," Pomona coach Jay Madden told Dennis Pleuss, Jeffco Public Schools' Communications Specialist. "I think they are as good as anybody in the state of Colorado. It's going to be a tough challenge, but we are looking forward to it."
and Grandview (Aurora)
are only 2.5 miles apart, and in late September engaged in one of the season's best games, a 36-35 Raptors victory. Eaglecrest was the state runner-up last fall, while the Wolves reached the state semifinals.
Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch)
and ThunderRidge (Highlands Ranch)
don't have a big history, but the two Highlands Ranch-area schools found themselves together in the South Metro League this fall. The Eagles handed ThunderRidge its only league loss, 38-17, back on Sept. 18. Third-seeded Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village)
and sixth-seeded Ralston Valley (Arvada)
square off in the other semifinal.
While 5A, 4A and 3A are down to the final eight, the semifinal round awaits the state's four smallest classifications.
In 1A, top-seeded Limon
is seeking its state-leading 17th state championship as it awaits Colorado Springs Christian
. The other semifinal is a rematch of the 2017 title game between two-time defending champion Strasburg
and Centauri (La Jara)
, which eliminated previously undefeated and second-ranked Peyton
Finally, in 6-Man action, Peetz
meet in one semifinal, which is a rematch of the 2017 title game, won by Peetz. Undefeated Kit Carson
in a rematch of a game earlier this season won handily by the Wildcats.
Headed into Friday night's slate of games, here is a schedule for the state's seven classifications, along with a game to watch for each class:
* No. 8 ThunderRidge (9-2) at No. 1 Valor Christian (11-0), 7 p.m. Friday
* No. 5 Eaglecrest (10-1) vs. No. 4 Grandview (10-1), 1 p.m. Saturday, Legacy Stadium
* No. 7 Pomona (7-4) at No. 2 Columbine (11-0), 7 p.m. Friday, Jeffco Stadium
* No. 6 Ralston Valley (9-2) at No. 3 Cherry Creek (10-1), 7 p.m. Friday, Stutler BowlGame to watch: Eaglecrest vs. Grandview
Back on Sept. 28, Eaglecrest rallied to defeat the Wolves 36-35 on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Dylan James
to Ty Robinson
in the final 30 seconds. James finished with 291 rushing yards and three touchdowns, along with the winning touchdown pass. On the other side, Jordan Billingsley
and Noah Schmidt
combined for five rushing scores. So, it's easy to understand the hype surrounding Saturday's game. The two teams, along with Cherry Creek, finished 4-1 in the Metro East League. James has rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 26 touchdowns, and Billingsley is just shy of 1,700 yards and 21 scores. Eaglecrest hasn't allowed more than two TDs in a game since the victory over Grandview, and the Wolves are the only team to defeat Cherry Creek this fall.
* No. 1 Pine Creek (10-1) at No. 9 Skyline (8-3), 1 p.m. Saturday
* No. 5 Ponderosa (9-2) at No. 13 Chatfield (8-3), 1 p.m. Saturday, Jeffco Stadium
* No. 6 Montrose (10-1) at No. 3 Greeley West (9-2), 6:30 p.m. Friday, District 6 Stadium
* No. 7 Fruita Monument (9-2) at No. 2 Loveland (11-0), 1 p.m. Saturday, Ray Patterson StadiumGame to watch: Pine Creek (Colorado Springs) vs. Skyline (Longmont)
Two of the state's most prolific offenses – Skyline averages 35 points a game, while Pine Creek goes for 34 – meet up Saturday in Longmont. Pine Creek has been to the 4A title game in four of the previous five seasons, with a powerful running game complemented by a defense that allows only 11.5 points a game. Junior running back David Moore III
has rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and scored 17 touchdowns, and the defense has 21 sacks. … That defense will be tested by Skyline senior Jeremy Hollingsworth
, who sits at 1,475 yards and 20 touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Chase Silva
has tossed 26 touchdown passes, and receiver Kyle West
has 79 catches for 1,217 yards and nine scores. Skyline has won 23 games in three years after three consecutive two-win seasons.
* No. 9 Mead (7-3) at No. 1 Palisade (10-1), 1 p.m. Saturday, Stocker Stadium
* No. 5 Harrison (11-0) at No. 4 Palmer Ridge (9-2), 1 p.m. Saturday, Don Breese Stadium
* No. 6 Green Mountain (9-2) at No. 3 Erie (11-0), 7 p.m. Friday
* No. 7 Discovery Canyon (9-2) at No. 2 Pueblo East (9-2), 1 p.m. Saturday, Dutch Clark StadiumGame to watch: Discovery Canyon (Colorado Springs) vs. Pueblo East
If Columbine and Pomona share a storied 5A playoff history, then Pueblo East and Discovery Canyon own that feat in the 3A ranks. Discovery Canyon has had its season end at the hands of the Eagles in four of the previous five seasons, including the state championship game two years ago. The Thunder handled East 52-24 back on Sept. 20, but the team lost two of its final three regular-season games and needed two overtimes to defeat Frederick in the first round. Junior
has rushed for nearly 1,300 yards and 17 scores – Discovery Canyon has 3,356 yards on the ground as a team with 49 touchdowns. … East, which won three consecutive 3A titles from 2014-16, has won six games in a row. Senior Luc Andrada
has thrown for nearly 2,500 yards and has 27 touchdowns, 16 of which have gone to Kain Medrano
. Medrano also leads the team with six interceptions.
* No. 4 La Junta (11-0) at No. 9 Faith Christian (9-2), 1 p.m. Saturday
* No. 2 Resurrection Christian (11-0) at No. 6 Platte Valley (11-0), 1 p.m. SaturdayGame to watch: Resurrection Christian vs. Platte Valley
Last fall the playoff fortunes of these two teams went very different directions. Platte Valley was the No. 1 overall seed, only to lose to area rival Eaton in the quarterfinals. Resurrection Christian was the 15th seed, but upset Kent Denver and Faith Christian before losing to Bayfield in the semifinals. The two teams found themselves on opposite sides of the Patriot League spectrum this season – Platte Valley in the Patriot East, Resurrection Christian in the Patriot West – and both went undefeated. Resurrection Christian allows just more than seven points a game, and has a balanced offense that was led by Kyle Lueck
's 849 yards and 11 touchdowns this fall. The defense has 27 sacks and 23 turnovers, with Peter Kuppinger
getting 10 sacks and Zane Zuhlke 10 interceptions. … On the other side, Platte Valley scored at least 40 points in six games. Senior Ernesto Rios
topped the 1,000-yard mark and scored nine touchdowns, and Trevon Wehrman
had 10 rushing scores.
* No. 4 Colorado Springs Christian (10-1) at No. 1 Limon (11-0), 1 p.m. Saturday
* No. 3 Strasburg (10-1) at No. 7 Centauri (9-2), 1 p.m. SaturdayGame to watch: CSCS vs. Limon
Class A 8-Man
Limon is one victory away from reaching its first 1A state championship game since 2007. The Badgers haven't won a title since 2005, but are undefeated with an offense that averages 37 points a game and a defense that gives up 6.7 points a contest. Sophomore Kory Tacha
has 17 rushing touchdowns and Cannan Bennett
has tossed 12 touchdown passes. Three players share the team lead with four interceptions. … Colorado Springs Christian's only loss came to Peyton in the second game of the season. Junior Peyton Brones
leads a ground game that racked up more than 3,000 yards on the season, as Brones has gone for more than 1,700 of those yards and 24 touchdowns. Sophomore Joe Dunn
has 15 more scores, and the defense has 26 sacks.
* No. 5 Hoehne (10-1) at No. 8 Pikes Peak Christian (10-1), 1 p.m. Saturday
* No. 3 Sedgwick County (9-1) at No. 15 Merino (7-4), 1 p.m. SaturdayGame to watch: Sedgwick County vs. Merino
Merino has been living large since its upset of Sedgwick County. The Rams followed that victory up with a 40-0 rout of No. 2 Mancos in the first round of the 8-Man playoffs, and then put 36 points in a victory over No. 10 Holly to reach the semifinals. Merino hasn't played for a state title since 2009. … Sedgwick County has claimed the past three 8-Man titles, and can go for a fourth with a victory Saturday. The Cougars had to claw out a 28-16 victory over Caliche in the quarterfinals in a game that saw only one score in the second half.Class A 6-Man
* No. 1 Stratton/Liberty (10-1) at No. 5 Peetz (8-2), 1 p.m. Saturday
* No. 3 Arickaree/Woodlin (8-2) at No. 2 Kit Carson (10-0), 1 p.m. SaturdayGame to watch: Stratton/Liberty vs. Peetz
One of two championship rematches from last fall, this semifinal pits the two highest-scoring teams in the classification against each other. Stratton/Liberty easily handled Peetz 60-21 earlier in the season. Senior Ethan Richmond
and sophomore Jaret Lichty
have each rushed for more than 1,000 yards and scored 18 touchdowns, and Tyson Lichty
has 18 touchdown passes. The Knighted Eagles, who last won a title in 2013, have scored 92 touchdowns this fall. … Peetz scored 101 points in a game earlier this season (though the Bulldogs gave up 85) and last week combined with Otis to score 162 points in an 84-78 Peetz victory. Senior Bryson Long
has 1,904 rushing yards and an incredible 45 rushing touchdowns. Long also leads the team in tackles.