No. 1 Pine Creek Eagles
Game data: No. 16 Heritage (8-2) vs. No. 1 Pine Creek (9-1) … Friday at 7 p.m. at D-20 Stadium. The winner will take on either No. 8 Pueblo West or No. 9 Skyline in the second round.
Scouting report: Pine Creek returns to the Class 4A state tournament as the No. 1 seed for the second year in a row. The Eagles enter the postseason with offensive momentum with an offense that has not scored fewer than 40 points in their last four games of the regular season. The high-powered offense is led by a strong class of 2020 with 4A’s second-ranked running back David Moore III, who has 1,390 yards and 16 touchdowns through nine games. He is just two yards shy of the class leader, Zach Weinmaster of Loveland, who has played 10 games.
Junior quarterback Gavin Herberg enters his first postseason after throwing for 961 yards and rushing for 125, while junior receiver Max Lofy has dazzled down field with 400 receiving yards on just 12 receptions, averaging 33.3 yards per catch. Lofy is also second on the team in rushing with 294 yards.
In total, Pine Creek has scored 40 or more points in six of its nine playable games, all the while holding opponents to an average of 14 points per game.
The Pine Creek defense is ranked eighth in the state with 22 sacks led by Elias Rolfe with 5.5 on the season, and also has 7.5 tackles for a loss. Senior Sam Miller leads the team in total tackles with 55, including seven for a loss. Daniel Bone follows with 50 tackles and also has two interceptions.
The Eagle defense will need to hold Heritage and its high-scoring offense. Heritage averages 35.6 points per game, compared to Pine Creek’s 33.7 ppg. Heritage also averages similar yardage per game, thanks to quarterback Conner Cummiskey who has more than 1,400 yards this season.
The Heritage ground game is anchored by senior running back Gianni Palazzo who has 719 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is chased by senior Mitchell Allen with 579 yards.
On the defensive side, Heritage is the No. 2-ranked defense in the class with 870 total tackles, averaging 96.7 per game. The Eagles are led by Phillip Ferguson who has pulled down 102 tackles. Heritage also has 89 tackles for a loss.
No. 15 Rampart Rams
Game data: No. 15 Rampart (7-3) vs. No. 2 Loveland (10-0) … Friday at 7 p.m. at Ray Patterson Stadium. The winner will face either No. 7 Fruita Monument or No. 10 Grand Junction Central in the second round.
Scouting report: This first-round matchup will feature Class 4A’s top two rushing offense, with Loveland coming in as the top in the state with 3,235 total rushing yards, followed by No. 2 Rampart with 3,047. Both teams are also highly ranked in scoring with Loveland coming in at No. 2 with 409 total points, followed by Rampart with 353.
Junior running back Chris Yoo is the anchor for the Rams’ run game with 1,241 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. He is chased by sophomore back Cale Cormaney who has racked up 747 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Rampart averages 304 rushing yards per game and has eight running backs who have rushed for at least one touchdown.
While the Rams running game is their strength, they also have three receivers with 100 or more receiving yards on the season. Luke Pavlica leads with 219 yards, followed by Ethan Temby (125) and Foster Spendlove (113). Cale Cormaney and Kevin Witcher have split time as playcallers with Cormaney throwing for 441 yards and Witcher for 151. While not playing quarterback Cormaney, a sophomore, also plays safety and leads the team in interceptions with five. As a team the Rams have 11 total interceptions, good for second in the class behind Loveland, which has 18.
Rampart averages 35.5 points per game, and holds opponents to 16.6 on average.
Zach Tuggle is Rampart’s leader on the defensive side with 60 total tackles including 10 for a loss. Senior Bryce Delahoy leads the team with five sacks and 39 tackles, including team-leading 13 tackles for a loss.
The Indians are led by 4A's top rusher, senior Zach Weinmaster, who has 1,392 rushing yards and a staggering 20 touchdowns. He is followed by six other backs with 100 or more yards this season. Weinmaster also has four interceptions and three caused fumbles.
Quarterback Riley Kinney has 981 passing yards, throwing to four receivers with 100 or more yards. The Indians’ receiving core is led by Cody Rakowsky with 260 yards.
On the defensive side, the Indians are led by Michael Deschene with 95 tackles, while Collin Morrison leads the team with eight sacks. He also has 45 tackles, including a team-leading 14 for a loss.
No. 4 Palmer Ridge Bears
Game data: No. 13 Pueblo South (5-5) vs. No. 4 Palmer Ridge (8-2) … Saturday at 1 p.m. at Don Breese Stadium. The winner will move on to play either No. 5 Harrison or No. 12 Holy Family in the second round.
Scouting report: This 3A first-round game will be a battle of last year’s state champs, as Palmer Ridge, last year’s 3A champion, will host the 2017 4A state champion Pueblo South.
Palmer Ridge enters the postseason having won its last seven games, rebounding from a rough start to average more than 42 points per game, all the while holding opponents to 13 points on average.
While the Palmer Ridge offense is known for its passing game with senior quarterback Ty Evans at the helm, the Bears are relatively well-balanced with a ground attack averaging 156 yards per game, while the team averages 199 yards passing. The Palmer Ridge rushing game is led by junior running back Raef Ruel, who has 846 yards and 14 touchdowns. Following is Noah Brom with 271 yards, and Evans with 258. Evans has become much more mobile in his senior year after having rushed for just 168 yards in 2017.
Deuce Roberson is the team’s top receiver with 663 yards and eight touchdowns. He is followed by four other receivers with more than 100 yards and at least two touchdowns. Roberson and sophomore receiver Kaden Dudley also have four interceptions, followed by senior Dylan Matesi who has three.
The Palmer Ridge defense is led by a veteran line of seniors JC Sparks, Aidan Cullen, Colten Dill, Jacob Dillon, Charlie Deeds and Matesi. Although defensive stats are not completely up to date on MaxPreps, the senior-laden line has helped post three shutouts and three other games holding opponents to a touchdown.
After winning the 4A state championship last year, Pueblo South dropped down to 3A and lost a majority of its state championship talent with a large senior class. But the Colts have rebounded with a new identity in a new class.
Pueblo South won four straight to end the regular season and average 26.9 points per game. Logan Petit has 1,581 passing yards and 16 touchdowns as the Colts average 161 passing yards per game. His top receiver is Jackson Dickerson who has racked up 769 receiving yards, followed by Cedric Tillman with 528.
Senior Cole Sniff is the team’s top rusher with 747 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Palmer Ridge and Pueblo South have met once already in the regular season with Palmer Ridge claiming a 45-14 win. Palmer Ridge and Pueblo South went into halftime tied at 14, but the Bears surged in the second half, scoring 31 points in the final 24 minutes. Ruel ran for 163 yards and three touchdowns while Evans passed for just 67 yards.
Petit was under immense pressure as he was sacked four times -- three by Sparks and once by Deeds. He threw three interceptions to Dudley, Roberson and AJ Carpenter.
No. 5 Harrison Panthers
Game data: No. 12 Holy Family (6-3) vs. No. 5 Harrison (10-0) … At Harrison High School, date and time to be announced.
Scouting report: Last week the No. 5 Panthers made school history winning its first conference championship in 29 years and earning the program’s first-ever 10-0 regular season.
But now, Harrison has a few more goals in mind -- a state title. The Panthers will begin their journey against No. 12 Holy Family.
Both squads average 36 points per game and average very similar yards per game, but Harrison has a 10-yard per game edge, averaging 437 yards per game, while Holy Family averages 427.
Harrison has posted three straight shutouts and has not scored less than 42 points in the second half of the season.
The Panthers have a well-balanced offense, averaging 208 passing yards per game and 229 rushing per game. Quarterback Orlando Westbrook-Sanchez is the fourth-ranked QB in Class 3A with 2,086 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and just one interception. Westbrook-Sanchez is also second on the team in rushing yards with 630 yards and 15 touchdowns. Senior Aumiere Shedrick leads the Panther ground game with 1,319 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Westbrook-Sanchez has a core of four receivers with over 200 yards, led by sophomore Seth Fuller with 764 yards. He is followed by DeVon Washington with 550 yards.
The Harrison defense is ranked third in 3A with 26 sacks, led by junior Makeah Scippio with seven. Washington and Matt Lyons follow with four each. Lyons leads the team in total tackles with 88, followed by Sergio Alvarado with 87. Alvarado leads the team in interceptions with five.
Holy Family is led by a passing game which has thrown for 2,210 yards. Senior quarterback Kyle Helbig had 1,109 yards through 10 games, while junior Calahan Carter racked up 918 yards in four games, averaging 229.5 per game, though he has not played since Sept. 21.
Helbig has a core of six receivers with 100 or more yards, led by Braedon Peters with 668 and Devin Doroff with 567.
Sophomore Trevin Johnson has 718 rushing yards, while Helbig has 462 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.
Helbig also leads the team with five sacks and has 21 total tackles. Matt Delgado leads the team with 87 tackles including nine for a loss. Will Anderson follows with 80 tackles.
No. 7 Discovery Canyon Thunder
Game data: No. 10 Frederick (8-2) vs. No. 7 Discovery Canyon (8-2) … Saturday at 1 p.m. at D-20 Stadium. The winner will move on to face either No. 2 Pueblo East or No. 15 Lewis-Palmer in the second round.
Scouting report: Two talented rush offenses will clash in this first-round matchup. The Thunder started the regular season on an impressive seven-game winning streak, averaging 43 points per game through the first half of the season.
Discovery Canyon averages 377 yards per game - 341 of which are rushing, on average. Junior Marshall Pike leads the Thunder on the ground with 1,134 yards and 14 touchdowns, followed by quarterback Zack Anderson with 713 and 12 TDs. Although Anderson averages just 66 passing yards per game, he has a .617 completion percentage for 594 yards.
Kevin Pasion is Anderson’s top target downfield with 215 receiving yards, followed by Ryan Monteleone with 181. Monteleone is also third on the team in rushing with 535 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Discovery Canyon defense allows on average 23.6 points per game. The defensive core is led by junior Jonah Isakson with 58 tackles, followed by Nick Monahan with 55. Gage Clawson leads the Thunder with five sacks and nine tackles for a loss and has 47 total tackles.
Frederick put up a seven-game winning streak in the middle of the season in which they scored no fewer than 40 points. The Warriors average 45 points per game relying heavily on its running attack, which averages 338 yards per game.
The team averages 9.6 yards per carry, led by a core of seven running backs with 100 or more yards on the season, each averaging more than six yards per carry. Brandon Hornby has 697 yards and 13 touchdowns, followed by Trey Odell with 544.
Quarterback Jake Green averages 92 passing yards per game with a .538 completion percentage. His top target is Dylan Sindelar with 567 yards. He is the only receiver with more than 100 yards this season.
The Warriors have pulled down 12 interceptions this season led by Dante Ciaravola with three. Hornby has two. Logan Robinson leads the team with four sacks and nine tackles for a loss (59 total), while Sean Holbrook leads in total tackles with 66.
Discovery Canyon and Frederick have two common opponents, Littleton and Holy Family, in which both teams defeated this year. The Thunder won by a combined point total of 115-34, while Frederick won by a combined point total of 93-23.
No. 15 Lewis-Palmer Rangers
Game data: No. 15 Lewis-Palmer (6-4) vs. No. 2 Pueblo East (8-2) … Friday at 7 p.m. at Dutch Clark Stadium. Winner will move on to play either No. 7 Discovery Canyon or No. 10 Frederick in the second round.
Scouting report: After missing the 2017 postseason, the Rangers found their way back by utilizing a balanced attack. But they will have an uphill battle in the first round, facing the state’s most productive offense.
Lewis-Palmer averages 179 rushing yards per game, led by senior Evan Walsh, who has had a stellar senior season with 1,396 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. The Rangers also average 125 passing yards per game under the direction of Alex Weaver, who has 692 yards. Colton Baroni also appeared in four games earlier this season throwing for 522 yards. Weavers’ top target is Joel Scott, who has 599 receiving yards, while Jake Martin has 367 and six touchdowns.
The Rangers average 29.2 points per game, but has scored 60 and 50 points in games this year.
Martin also leads the team in interceptions with four, followed by sophomore Breckin Davis and junior Paxton Crowell with three each. In total, Lewis-Palmer has 15 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries, two blocked punts and two blocked field goals.
In order to pull off an opening round upset, the Lewis-Palmer defense must stop star quarterback Luke Andrada, who has 2,189 passing yards, a .605 completion percentage, and also leads the team in rushing yards with 621. He has 23 passing touchdowns and eight rushing and has thrown just three interceptions.
He has a pair of receivers each with more than 700 yards in Marvin London Jr. and Kain Medrano. Medrano has 13 touchdowns and also has 177 rushing yards and leads the team with six interceptions.
Patrick Gonzalez is second on the team in rushing with 516 yards and nine touchdowns.
Joe Padula leads the Pueblo East defense with 90 tackles, including nine for a loss. The Eagle defense allows on average 17 points per game, all the while the offense averages 52.8 points per game to lead the state.