Colorado Prep Football Preview: Top first-round playoff games to watch

Colorado Prep Football Preview: Top first-round playoff games to watch

Denver Post preps editor Kyle Newman breaks down the biggest games to watch in the first round of the Class 5A and Class 4A playoffs this week. The season culminates with the state championship games at Sports Authority Field on Dec. 2.

Class 5A

Highlands Ranch (6-4) at Columbine (9-1), Friday 7 p.m., Jeffco Stadium: In a rematch of last season’s first-round showdown, when Columbine rallied in the fourth quarter to thwart an upset by Highlands Ranch, the No. 3 Rebels and No. 14 Falcons stack their rushing attacks against each other. Columbine’s tailback committee is led by a ginormous offensive line as well as senior running back Conner Snow, while Highlands Ranch, which closed the regular season with three straight losses, must quickly regain its early-season form.

Mullen (5-5) at Regis Jesuit (9-1), Friday 7 p.m., Lou Kellogg Stadium: The No. 11 Mustangs handed the No. 6 Raiders their lone regular-season loss when they stormed back with a 26-point fourth quarter Sept. 8 in Aurora. Regis Jesuit likely won’t forget that loss as they take to the scene of the crime when senior defensive end Jake Heimlicher and the Raiders’ defense looks to continue their stingy play against a Mullen offense that needs a big night from senior wideout/running back A’Jon Vivens. Listen to this game live on Post Preps Radio.

Lakewood (8-2) at Grandview (8-2), Saturday 12 p.m., Legacy Stadium: With three tone-setting wins to close the regular season, coach Jeff Braun’s No. 9 Tigers have every right to be confident heading into a physical showdown against perennial 5A heavyweight Grandview. The Tigers’ hopes of pulling off their first playoff win in three years ride on the shoulders of dual-threat senior quarterback Ezekiel Sundberg, while No. 8 Grandview is guided by senior captains Julius Carter Jr. and Gunner Gentry. Listen to this game live on Post Preps Radio.

Class 4A

Skyline (8-2) at Chatfield (9-1), Friday 6 p.m., Trailblazer Stadium: Each program’s reward for stellar regular seasons comes in the form of a championship-caliber first-round opponent. In the program’s first playoff showing since 1999, the No. 12 Falcons are led by Colorado’s leading rusher, junior Jeremy Hollingsworth, as well as dynamic junior wideout Kyle West on 4A’s third-ranked offense that averaged 45 points during the regular season. But the No. 5 Chargers, who boast the classification’s top offense at 46.4 points per game, have proved it will take a special showing by any 4A team to bring them down. Watch our Gameday show live on Friday at 11:55 a.m. at Chatfield.

Ponderosa (9-1) at Loveland (10-0), Friday 7 p.m., Ray Patterson Stadium: After a decisive loss at Pueblo South to close the regular season last week, coach Jaron Cohen and the No. 10 Mustangs must immediately regroup for another stiff road test facing the No. 7 Indians. The leadership of Ponderosa senior twin captains Sterling Ostdahl (quarterback) and Quinton Ostdahl (linebacker) is going to be crucial against the Zach Weinmaster-led Indians, who are quite possibly playing with a bigger chip on their shoulder than any squad in the entire state.

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Broomfield (6-4) at Windsor (9-1), Saturday 1 p.m., H.J. Dudley Field: The No. 2 Wizards thrashed the No. 15 Eagles 40-14 in Broomfield on Sept. 15, but longtime coach Chris Jones has put far too many pieces of tape on his whistle to overlook any opponent — especially in a high-stakes playoff rematch. Broomfield needs to hold its ground in the trenches to give junior quarterback Steven Croell time to make plays in order to pull off the upset, while the Wizards and senior quarterback Connor Apodaca — winners of eight straight — are playing with the moxie necessary to capture a fifth state title.

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