Football season is around the corner, and as teams prepare for the season, Gazette Preps is preparing to keep an eye on these 50 players from around the Pikes Peak region.
Note: Players listed below are among the classes of 2020-2022. Have a freshman worthy of player to watch? Send nominations to email@example.com.
CLASS of 2020
Devin Antoine, Vista Ridge, DB — Antoine had 62 tackles as a junior for Vista Ridge and earned an invite to the Blue-Grey football super combine, in which he stood out among the defensive backs, and ran a 4.63 second 40-yard dash, 4.49 shuttle and tallied 15 reps on the bench press.
Peyton Brones, Colorado Springs Christian, RB/LB — With 1,724 rushing yards as a junior Brones was 10th in the state regardless of classification. He averaged 8.7 yards per carry and had 24 touchdowns. On defense he had 115 tackles including 12 for a loss.
Cody Bruce, Palmer Ridge, G — Bruce anchored one of the state’s top offensive lines last year, helping the Bears to a second-straight 3A title. The 6-foot-3, 280-pound guard helped Palmer Ridge’s offense put up 5,198 total yards and averaged 340 rushing per game.
Gage Clawson, Discovery Canyon, G/LB — Clawson, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound linebacker had 58 tackles as a junior including 11 for a loss. He also had five sacks for a total of 32 yards lost. On the offensive line he helped DCC rack up 3,511 rushing yards and 49 rushing touchdowns.
Damon Darling, Pine Creek, DE/OL — As a junior Darling, 6-2, 240-pounds, aided the offensive line which gained for 235.4 rushing yards per game and 4,053 total yards. His efforts on the D-line helped hold opponents to just over 12 points on average.
Aidan Diller, Air Academy, DL — Diller finished his junior year with 36 total tackles and eight sacks to help the Kadets to a six-game winning streak. He was among the top 35 defenders in sacks and finished in the top 10 in Class 4A.
David Garcia, Mesa Ridge, DL — At 6-foot-2, 165 pounds Garcia returns after his first varsity season in which he had 63 total tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and three passes defended. He also had a team-leading 17.5 tackles for a loss, and is the team’s top returning defender.
Kyle Gaster, Mesa Ridge, QB — In his first full season as a varsity starter Gaster threw for 924 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 104 yards and ran into the end zone twice. Gaster had the best overall performance among quarterbacks in the Blue-Grey super combine in June.
Gavin Herberg, Pine Creek, QB — Last year Herberg’s arm balanced Pine Creek’s attack. The 6-foot, 190-pound pro-style quarterback threw for 105.8 yards per game and 14 touchdowns. He finished his junior season with 1,164 passing yards and three interceptions.
Max Lofy, Pine Creek, CB — Lofy officially announced his commitment to Wisconsin in July after a junior season in which he had 1,030 all-purpose yards and 16 touchdowns. He also had 32 tackles, and an interception. Don’t expect Lofy to look the same on the field - he has gained 20 pounds in the offseason.
Jake Martin, Lewis-Palmer, WR/SS — With 429 receiving yards and seven touchdowns Martin is the Rangers’ top returner on the outside, averaging 23.8 yards per catch. The 6-2, 190-pound athlete also had 135 yards on kick returns, and four picks, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt.
Ky’a Martin, Palmer Ridge, DE — As a junior Martin had 49 tackles, including 20 solo, 3.5 sacks and a safety for the Bears. Now the 6-foot-3, 293-pound end returns as one of the top performers from a title-winning defensive line.
Ladarius Mays, Coronado, RB/CB — Mays was Coronado’s go-to threat his junior year with 1,005 rushing yards and 201 receiving. He had 23 total touchdowns and 277 kick-return yards. He also racked up 19 total tackles and returned a fumble for a touchdown.
David Moore III, Pine Creek, RB — Moore completed his third straight season with 1,000 rushing yards or more in the regular season. He finished with 1,494 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior, and had 1,558 total yards. He is a two-time Gazette Preps 5A/4A football Peak Performer of the Year.
Joshua Norman, Vista Ridge, WR — At the 2019 Blue-Grey super combine in Denver, Norman had the best overall showing for a receiver, posting the fastest 40 (4.59), longest broad jump (9-feet-11) and the fastest shuttle (4.33).
Mussa Pene, Liberty, WR/CB — Despite Liberty’s 0-10 season, Pene was a bright spot with 544 receiving yards, 79 rushing and five touchdowns. Pene also had 30 tackles, two interceptions, two caused fumbles and a recovery, and defended four passes.
Spencer Peterson, Pine Creek, RB — He enters his senior season after a successful summer competing at the Blue-Grey super combine as the top performer at his position. He ran a 4.59 40, a 4.29 shuttle, and had 19 reps on the bench. At 6-foot, 195-pounds Peterson will give another option to the Eagle ground game.
Marshall Pike, Discovery Canyon, FB/DT — At 6-foot-1, 212 pounds is coming off a stellar junior campaign with more than 1,300 rushing yards. He had 17 touchdowns and was the top threat on a run-heavy offense. The Thunder will have a new quarterback and will likely lean on Pike to lead the smashmouth offense.
Zach Pribyl, Palmer Ridge, K — The kicker was busy as a junior, making 73 for 73 point-after attempts to help Palmer Ridge to a second-straight state title. He was 10 for 10 in his varsity debut last year and finished the year second in the state in PAT made.
Deuce Roberson, Palmer Ridge, WR/CB — Roberson is coming off a junior season with 1,144 all-purpose yards and 17 total touchdowns. He also had 32 tackles and five interceptions and four returned to the end zone. He enters his senior year at 5-foot-10, 170 pounds.
Isaac Robinson, Fountain-Fort Carson, QB — Robinson threw for 1,608 yards in his first varsity season, averaging more than 146 yards with a .576 completion percentage. Robinson and many of the team’s top offensive threats are returning.
Elias Rolfe, Pine Creek, DE — Rolfe has been a consistent defensive threat for the Eagles since his sophomore year. Last year he had 36 tackles, including 7.5 for a loss. The 6-foot-6, 220 pound end also had 5.5 sacks as a junior, helping the defense to hold opponents to fewer than 13 points per game.
Rece Rowan, Pine Creek, DE/TE — Though the senior had recorded just five games as a junior, he made them count, with 25 total tackles. In a 21-9 win over Pueblo West the 6-foot-2, 225-pound end had 11 total tackles and three sacks.
Raef Ruel, Palmer Ridge, RB — At 5-11, 210-pounds, Ruel is not an easy running back to take down. Last year the rusher took home the MVP trophy from the 2019 3A state championship and finished his junior year with 1,301 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns.
Emmanuel Taylor, Vista Ridge, DT — At 5-foot-8, 235 pounds Taylor had the best broad jump at the 2019 Blue-Grey combine with a leap of 7-11, and had a 4.75 shuttle. Last year he had 62 total tackles including a team-leading 16.5 for a loss.
Alex Weaver, Lewis-Palmer, QB — The 6-2, 180 pound QB threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs against Pueblo East, setting up heightened expectations for his senior year. In total he had 937 passing yards and threw for nine touchdowns as a junior.
Alexander Wood, Pine Creek, OLB — Wood is the top returning tackler for the Eagles, leading underclassmen with 47 in his first varsity season. He averaged 5.2 and also had a sack, interception and fumble recovery.
Chris Yoo, Rampart, RB — With 1,317 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns Yoo jetted into the spotlight his junior year. Now the 5-foot-11, 205-pound running back is the most explosive offensive veteran returning to the team under a new coach.
CLASS of 2021
Are’an Burr, Air Academy, LB/TE — Burr, a 6-foot-1, 188-pound defender emerged as a leader as a sophomore with a team-leading 75 tackles, including 28 solo and had four sacks. He averaged 7.5 tackles for the Kadets. After the graduation of a few senior defenders, Burr will likely have an even bigger role.
Keyon Burris, Vista Ridge, WR — Last year Burris had 32 receptions for 462 yards and six touchdowns to lead Vista Ridge. He had 217 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. The receiver also threw a touchdown pass and returned a kickoff to the end zone.
Elijah Burkett, Colorado Springs Christian — Burkett had 63 tackles last season, including 49 for a loss. He also caused and recovered a fumble for CSCS. Burkett is one of three top returners from a defense that held opponents on average to 10 points per game.
Rian Chavez, Colorado Springs Christian, LB/G — Chavez finished his sophomore year No. 6 among the class of 2021 for tackles for a loss with 17. He had 71 total tackles, and 6.5 sacks to help the Lions post six shutouts. At 6-foot, 210 pounds Chavez will anchor the veteran Lion defense.
Cale Cormaney, Rampart, QB — Last year Cormaney quarterbacked one of the most productive offenses in the state. The dual threat had 519 passing yards, and was the team’s second-most productive rusher with 812 yards. The two-way threat also had 43 tackles and five interceptions.
Kaden Dudley, Palmer Ridge, WR/CB — Dudley enters his junior year ranked No. 6 as the state’s top 2021 recruits. The 6-foot, 189 pound receiver had 331 receiving yards in his first varsity season for the Bears and finished the year third in the state with nine interceptions.
Joe Dunn, Colorado Springs Christian — Dunn did a little bit of everything for the Lions as a sophomore. He had 884 rushing, 230 receiving and 151 return yards, scoring 18 touchdowns. He also had 37 tackles including nine for a loss. And had five sacks and two interceptions.
Seth Fuller, Harrison, WR —Though just a junior, Fuller will return to the Panthers as the top offensive player after 928 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 175 pound receiver has completed an intense offseason training program.
Brody Gish, Doherty, QB — Through eight games Gish threw for 715 yards and seven touchdowns for the Spartans through one of the state’s toughest schedules. He had a .522 completion percentage and also had 258 rushing yards.
Q Jones, Fountain-Fort Carson, RB — Jones emerged in his first varsity season as one of the most dangerous running talents in the state with 1,406 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns before breaking his leg late in the regular season. Despite his injury less than a year ago he attended top-tier college camps this summer.
Luke McAllister, Palmer Ridge, QB — McAllister has had limited varsity snaps with the Bears, but has found success in the offseason on the USA U-16 team MVP and trains with some of the top QB prospects in the state. McAllister will step in to run one of the most productive passing offenses in the state.
Luke Pavlica, Rampart, WR — As a sophomore Pavlica did whatever needed for Rampart racking up 260 receiving yards as the Ram’s top target, and averaged 19.2 yards per kickoff return with 249 total return yards.
Ricardo Rivera, Fountain-Fort Carson, OLB — As a sophomore the 5-foot-9, 170-pound defender had 29 tackles including 25 of them solo. He had four interceptions and had batted down four passes. His four interceptions ranked eighth in the state among the class of 2021.
Abner Schwab, Pine Creek, NG — Last year Schwab led the Eagles with 8.5 tackles for a loss and had 26 total tackles. He also had 3.5 sacks, four hurries and recovered a fumble. Schwab plays tougher than his 5-foot, 140-pound frame would suggest.
Davonn Stevens, Harrison, MLB — With 98 tackles Stevens ranked sixth in the state among his class last year. He had four games with 10 or more tackles as a sophomore, including a career-high 14 against Palmer Ridge in the playoffs.
Tashon Smith, Fountain-Fort Carson, CB —Last year Smith did a little bit of everything for the Trojans -- and he did it well. He had 80 tackles, 290 return yards, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries. He even had attempts at rushing and receiving, and tossed a 56-yard touchdown pass.
Caleb Stockton, Colorado Springs Christian, QB — Stockton prepares to enter his second varsity season after throwing for 827 yards and 13 touchdowns to help the Lions to a 10-2 record. The Lions lost just four seniors from 2018 and has all major offensive and defensive leaders returning.
CLASS of 2022
Tate Christian, Manitou Springs, QB — Last year Christian became an offensive presence as the lone freshman quarterback behind two seniors. But despite his youth Christian had the best completion percentage (.469) and threw for 159 yards on a run-heavy team.
Anthony Costanzo, Palmer Ridge, WR/S — Costanzo made an immediate impact as a freshman, using his height to set himself apart in the backfield with 340 receiving yards and caught two touchdowns. The 6-3, 175-pound athlete also had 28 tackles.
Nico Gagliardi, Cheyenne Mountain, DE — Gagliardi is coming off a freshman campaign in which he had 42 tackles to go along with a team-leading five sacks. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound end returns as the team’s top defensive player.
Joe Naple, Palmer, LB/QB — Naple is coming off a freshman season in which he led the team with 39 tackles, an average of nearly five tackles per game. He is also listed as one of three quarterbacks on the Palmer roster.
Dylan O’Rourke, Canon City, RB/LB — As a freshman O’Rourke caught three touchdown passes and rushed for another. He also compiled 23 tackles - including 10 for a loss, which ranked second in the state for the class of 2022.