Five football programs from the Pikes Peak region earned playoff spots in the state’s largest and smallest classifications that ended regular-season play this weekend.
Doherty (5-5) earned the No. 18 seed in the newly expanded 24-team 5A tournament and will face No. 15 Highlands Ranch (2-6) at 7 p.m. Friday at Shea Stadium. One spot down is No. 19 Fountain-Fort Carson (3-5), which will travel to Castle Rock to meet No. 14 Castle View (7-3) at a date and time to be determined.
The Spartans are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015 despite records of 8-2 and 7-3 over the past two seasons but finishing outside of the top 16, according to the Ratings Percentage Index both times.
In 1A, local league champions No. 2 Peyton (9-0) and No. 4 CSCS (8-1) earned home playoff games this weekend. The Panthers will host No. 15 Platte Canyon, while the Lions are preparing for Monte Vista.
Pikes Peak Christian (8-1) earned the No. 8 seed in the 8-Man playoff field and will play host to No. 9 Vail Christian.
No area teams finished in the top 16 of the final 2A regular-season standings to qualify for the playoffs.
The 16-team postseason brackets in 3A and 4A will be determined Nov. 4.
Volleyball regionals to be announced Monday
For the state’s top 36 teams in Classes 2A-5A, their journeys to respective state volleyball tournaments continue this weekend at regional play.
On Monday, the regional seeding meeting will place each three-team venue, with the top 12 teams in each class earning home court. The one-day, round-robin event will take place Friday or Saturday. Each regional champion earns a state berth.
While no 5A teams were ranked in the top 12 as of Sunday, 4A has a trio of squads set to host in two-time and reigning state champion Lewis-Palmer (1), along with Discovery Canyon (2) and Palmer Ridge (9).
In 3A, Manitou Springs (5) and CSCS (7) were in position to host this weekend.
The state tournaments take place Nov. 8-10 at the Denver Coliseum and, for the first time, will feature a bracket and double-elimination format (until the semifinals) for each 12 team field.
TCA football ends season in style with individual, team records
Although TCA isn’t headed to the 2A playoffs, the Titans did end the regular season with a bang.
Zach Gray rushed for 300 yards – a school record – with four touchdowns, which tied the program’s single-game record, during the Titans’ 66-26 win over Woodland Park.
Also, TCA scored the most points during its 15-season history. The Titans had scored 59 points three times, most recently in a win over Manitou Springs on Oct. 28, 2016.
Incidentally, it was during that game that Austin Weingart produced the previous single-game rushing mark of 258 yards and also scored four touchdowns.
“We were trying to run the clock, but we had a couple of one-play drives in the second half,” Titans coach Justin Rich said. “Our offensive line was just dialed in.”
Gray’s final carry came on a 48-yard touchdown run with 4:38 left in the game.
Vista Ridge holds benefit for coach fighting rare cancer
There was more than a game played last Thursday when Vista Ridge and Palmer met on the football field.
Fans came together to hold a benefit and raise awareness for Jbird’s Journey, a nonprofit foundation started earlier this year by the family of Jason Linta, a Vista Ridge coach who earlier this year was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma of the lacrimal gland, a cancer so rare that it’s detected in one of only 10 million patients in the United States who are fighting the disease.
Linta is an Air Force Academy firefighter assigned to the 10th Civil Engineer Squadron who fought the Black Forest and Waldo Canyon fires and has 23 years of military service to his name.
“The foundation was formed and educate and raise awareness, while giving back to others battling their own fight against rare cancers,” Wolves football coach Jerimi Calip said in a release. “No one fights alone.”
Information on the foundation can be found at jbirdsjourney.org.