Coach: Jeff Krumlauf, 13th season
Last year: 7-3 (4-1 5A Mt. Massive)
Returning athletes: Alijah Bates, Sr., TE/DE; Brandon Deas, Sr., CB; Dillon Green, Sr., DE; Tyler Hutcheon, Sr., DE; Devon Lobato, Sr., FS; Logan Maslanik, Sr., ILB; Jared Smits, Sr., TE; Gage Vanaman, Sr., RB
Other top athletes: Brandon Becker 11/QB, Jaden Martinez 11/FB, Jose Handford 11/OLB, Justin Anetone 11/RT, Kevin Knebel 11/LG, AJ Tracy 11/ILB.
Outlook: “We’re excited about the opportunity to showcase our abilities and brotherhood on and off the field,” Krumlauf said.
Notes: Last year the Spartans were cut out of the 5A state playoffs by just a few points, despite having a better record than the final teams who made the cut. This year, Krumlauf said he doesn’t want the RPI to keep his team from the postseason, so Doherty will face some of the best teams in the state, including Cherry Creek, Fairview and Pine Creek in nonleague action.
Fountain-Fort Carson Trojans
Coach: Jake Novotny, 3rd season
Last year: 4-7 (1-4 5A Mt. Lincoln)
Returning athletes: Johnathan Brown, Sr., FB; Sherman Deaton, Jr., OL; Noah Gerber, Jr., WR/Saf; Jovan Guzman, Sr., ILB; Q Jones, So., RB; Mikeroy Markwei, Sr., DE; Mikey McLaughlin, Sr., OL; Isaac Robinson, Jr., QB; Shawn Smith, Sr., ILB; Lawson White, Sr., OLB
Other top athletes: Jimmie Fa’aapouli, Sr., OL
Outlook: “The Trojans will play another top-10 schedule this season with three of the four final four teams from 2017 on their schedule,” Novotny said. “The Trojans will be very experienced on the offensive and defensive lines anchored by returning starters Mikey McLaughlin and Mikeroy Markwei.”
Notes: Fountain-Fort Carson will need to replace its dual-threat quarterback Eric Donnell, who had 870 passing yards and 1,256 yards on the ground as a senior. “FFC will be replacing several seniors from last year but will be filling these shoes from a very talented freshman and sophomore class from a season ago,” Novotny said. The Trojans will also now play in a league with crosstown rival Doherty in the newly aligned 5A Southern league.
4A SOUTHERN 1
Cheyenne Mountain Indians
Coach: Jay Saravis, 2nd season as head coach
Last year: 5-5 (1-4 4A Foothills)
Returning athletes: Austin Choi, Sr., LB/OL; Terrance Dishmon, SR., DB/WR; Kyle Elligot, Jr., DB/WR; Brad Helton, So., B/DB; Kevin Hooks, Sr., DB/WR; James LaCerte, Jr., B/DB; Ben Wilke, Sr., LB
Other top athletes: Aaron Berkhoff, SR., B/DB; John Garber, SR., OL/DL; Robbie Gonzales, Jr., B/LB; Noah Logan, Jr., B/DE
Outlook: “We have had excellent effort during our summer conditioning program,” Saravis said.
Notes: Cheyenne Mountain returns a good number of major components from last year’s offense that put up 2,688 total yards. Rising junior James LaCerte was the team’s top rusher with 818 yards and 10 touchdowns. Brad Helton had 255 passing yards as a freshman and Terrance Dishmon is the team’s top returning receiver with 309 yards as a junior.
Mesa Ridge Grizzlies
Coach: Rob Braaten, 28th season
Last year: 5-5 (2-3 4A Southern)
Returning athletes: Reece Bishop, Sr., RB/LB; Michael Boden, Sr., TE/DL; Victor Fernandez, Jr., OL/DL; Kyle Gaster, Jr., QB/DB; Al Leatiota, Sr., OL/DL; Tyler McIntyre, Sr., WR/DB; Von Summers, Sr., WR/LB; Tre Walker, Sr., RB/DB
Outlook: “We have a very large junior class that will need to step up and mix with a small but talented senior class,” Braaten said. “Judging by their efforts this offseason they should be able to do that.”
Notes: With the 2018 league alignment, Mesa Ridge will face a host of new opponents, including Cheyenne Mountain, Vista Ridge and Palmer. The Grizzlies will still face their biggest rival, Widefield, in Week 5, but it is no longer a league matchup.
Vista Ridge Wolves
Coach: Jerimi Calip, 5th season
Last year: 7-5 (3-2 4A Pikes Peak) No. 14 Vista Ridge made it to the Class 4A quarterfinal last year with a first-round upset over No. 3 Fruita Monument.
Returning athletes: Dylan Benning, Sr., OL; Carter Bussone, Sr., MLB; Jordan Calip, Sr., SS; Micah Hilts, Sr.; Chase Mestas, Sr., OL; WR; Ryan Poolman, Jr., OLB; Santiago Ramirez, Sr., OL; Emmanuel Taylor, Jr., DL; Deonte Washington, Sr., DL; Jaleen Young, Jr., DL
Other top athletes: Delan Gandy, Sr., WR; Josh Norman, Jr., WR; Kalvin Ziccardi, Sr., OLB
Outlook: “We have a lot of returning starters or guys who played a lot on defense,” Calip said. “We saw our guys work hard this offseason and develop.”
Notes: Vista Ridge lost last year’s starting QB, Jalen Thomas, to graduation and he has moved on to play football at Air Force, while their top backup from 2017 has transferred. Although the team’s quarterback situation was in question, two young QBs emerged for a preseason quarterback competition.
4A SOUTHERN 2
Air Academy Kadets
Coach: Scott Grinde, 3rd season
Last year: 6-4 (2-3 4A Foothills)
Returning athletes: Spence Alger, Sr., LB/OL; Brady Badwound, Sr., LB/TE; Jared Clark, Jr., QB; Aidan Diller, Jr., DE/OL; Cole Eck, Jr., OL/DE; Cole Edmondson, Jr., DB/WB; Kyle Pope, Sr., OLB/WB; Bo Powers, Sr., QB; Christian Jones, Jr., OL/DL; Michael Keator, Sr., OLB/RB; Josh Luden, Sr., OL/DL; Will Markworth, Jr., LB/WR; Ethan Martin, Jr., OLB/FB; Zach Martin, Sr., RB; Michael Midkiff, Sr., WR/DB; Jack Newsome, Sr., Center; Christian Parelius, Sr., FS/RB; Tanner Rawlins, So., DE/FB
Other top athletes: Are’an Burr, So., DE/TE; Jaxson Sak-Bachini, So., OL/DL
Outlook: “While the 2017 campaign was the best finish in nine years at AAHS, we know that none of that means anything this year,” Grinde said. “We simply focus on the process of getting better as students, athletes and as people every single day. … Our schedule is very challenging, but we continue to work hard to improve on a rep-by-rep, day-to-day basis.”
Notes: The Kadets’ young squad from 2017 — which included six full-time sophomore starters — returns with valuable varsity experience, in addition to a deep senior class. … Air Academy installed a turf field in its ‘K-Dome’ in the offseason.
Coach: Monte Gutowski, 2nd season as head coach
Last year: 4-6 (2-3 4A Pikes Peak)
Returning athletes: Jewelian Anderson Velasquez, Sr., OL/DL; Deegan Foster, Sr., RB/LB; Julian Hogan, Jr., K; LaDarius Mays, Jr., RB/DB; Brandon Stogsdill, Sr., S; Nick Vernaccio, Sr., OL/DL
Outlook: “We will have a younger team this season but have been pleased with how our seniors have really embraced the underclassmen,” Gutowski said. “I look forward to kids compete and grow.”
Notes: Coronado will have to replace quarterback Toby Smith who threw for 1,261 yards with a .481 completion percentage last year. Senior Brandon Stogsdill is the Cougars’ top returning defender after pulling down 65 tackles last year.
Coach: Erick Gossage, 1st season as head coach
Last year: 2-8 (2-3 4A Foothills)
Returning athletes: Mikey Cornelius, Jr., RB/LB; Khairi Kelly, Sr., ILB/RB; Bryce Kizewski, Sr., WR/DB; Chris Smith, Sr., OLB/TE
Other top athletes: Daucin Divorksy, Jr., QB; Jammin Henry, Jr., OLB/RB; Elijah Maldonado, Sr., OL/DL; Mussa Pene, Jr., WR/DB; Grant Scuggs, Sr., DB/QB
Outlook: “After losing 22 seniors from the year before what excites me most about the upcoming season is being able to take a group of young men and getting them to perform better each day,” Gossage said. “We have had a very productive summer and I can’t wait to see them on the field.”
Notes: The Lancers are starting fresh in 2018 with a new coach, a nearly new squad after losing 22 seniors, and competing in a new league due to conference realignment. Liberty’s two wins last season came against 4A Foothills opponents that the team will no longer face.
Coach: Rob Royer, 24th season
Last year: 9-3 (5-0 4A Pikes Peak) Rampart earned a No. 8 seed in the 4A playoffs, but was eliminated by No. 1 Pine Creek in the quarterfinals.
Returning athletes: JJ Carrington, Sr., OL/LB; Bryce Delahoy, Sr., NT; Marshal Ehrlin, Sr., OL/DL; Cameron Garko, Sr., WR/DB; Christian Grantham, Sr., TE/OLB; Jared Hunter, TE/DE; Ryan Kintz, Sr., OL/DL; Ethan Meyer, Sr., WR/DB; Jake Pavlica, Sr., WR/DB; Colin Phillips, Sr., RB/OLB; Nate Phillips, Sr., OL/DL; Dustin Shirts, Sr., RB/DB; Foster Spendlove, Sr., TE/DB; Ethan Temby, Sr., WR/DB; Grant Tucker, Jr., OL/DL; Keyshawn Watts, Sr., RB/LB; Cameron White, Sr., OL/DL; Kevin Witcher, Jr., QB/DB; Chris Yoo, Jr., RB/LB; Logan Zelasko, Jr., WR/DB
Outlook: “We have a challenging nonleague schedule against some traditionally great teams and coaches,” Royer said.
Notes: The Rams will face Dakota Ridge, Chatfield, Monarch and Bear Creek before diving into league play. With the new 4A Southern 2 alignment, Rampart, last year’s 4A Pikes Peak champion, will now face new opponents in league play including Air Academy, Widefield, Liberty and Pueblo West.
Coach: Dustin Tupper, 5th season
Last year: 4-6 (3-2 3A Southern) Palmer Ridge completed a perfect season and captured the program’s first 3A state championship.
Returning athletes: Kai Arneson, Jr., OT; Colton Baroni, Sr.; Charles Cook, Sr., ILB; Travis McDonald, Sr.,OL/DL; Julyan McCoy, Sr., DE; Isaiah Padilla, Sr., OL/DL; Joel Scott, Sr., TE/LB/Punter; Evan Walsh, Sr., CB/HB
Other top athletes: Paxton Crowell, Jr., FS/WR; Konnor Kingsmore, Sr., WR; Jake Martin, Jr., SS/WR
Outlook: “Our seniors and juniors have put in an excellent summer,” Tupper said. “We’re in a new league with some familiar foes and we’re continuing to build our program and aiming to win a state title.”
Notes: Now in the 3A Central league, Lewis-Palmer’s only returning league foe will be Discovery Canyon. The Rangers will face Monument rival Palmer Ridge in league play, in addition to Littleton, Lutheran and Thomas Jefferson.
Palmer Ridge Bears
Coach: Tom Pulford, 7th season as head coach
Last year: 14-0 (5-0 3A East Metro) Palmer Ridge completed a perfect season and captured the program’s first 3A state championship.
Returning athletes: Aidan Cullen, Sr., DL/OL; Charlie Deeds, Sr., LB; Colton Dill, Sr., DL; Jake Dillon, Sr., DL; Ty Evans, Sr., QB; Tyler Hudson, Sr., ATH; Garrett Marchetti, Sr., OL; K’ya Martin, Sr., DL; Dylan Matesi, Sr., DB; Cam Reiman, Sr., OL; Deuce Roberson, Jr., ATH; Raef Ruel, Jr., RB; JC Sparks, Sr., LB
Outlook: “We’re excited about every game,” Pulford said.
Notes: Last year in 3A East Metro, Palmer Ridge battled non-area teams for a league championship. This year the Bears will face two local teams in the new 3A Central conference, including Monument rival Lewis-Palmer.
Canon City Tigers
Coach: Tom O’Rourke, 29th season
Last year: 9-2 (5-0 3A Southern); The No. 4 Tigers were upset by No. 13 Durango in the first round of last year’s 3A tournament.
Returning athletes: Canon City has a large number of returners across the board, including 13 seniors, 15 juniors and 15 sophomores.
Outlook: “We’re excited about seeing some new teams due to the new league,” O’Rourke said.
Notes: The Tigers will face Harrison, Woodland Park, Sierra and Sand Creek thanks to the new 3A Southern alignment. Canon City lost the league’s top quarterback, Zac Hanenberg, and top rusher, Kadin Porter, to graduation. Hanenberg had nearly 800 more passing yards than the next ranked QB in 3A Southern and Porter had a 400-yard edge on the ground.
Coach: Al Melo, 12th season at Harrison
Last year: 8-3 (3-2 3A South Central) The Panthers sneaked into the 3A state tournament as a No. 16 seed and were ousted by No. 1 Mead in the first round.
Returning athletes: Sergio Alvarado, Sr., RB/FS; Seth Fuller, So., WR/LB; Dajion Gainer, Sr., RB/LB; Matt Lyons, Sr., LB; Kyon McDonald, Sr., OL/DL; Nate Mesa, Sr., OL/DL; Makeah Scippio, Jr., TE/DE; Jailen Simmons, Jr., OL/DE; Aumiere Shedrick, Sr., RB; Miron Washburn, Sr., OL/DL; Devon Washington, Sr., RB/DE; Romeo Wells, Jr., RB/LB; Orlando Westbrook, Sr., QB
Other top athletes: Al Ashford, So., RB/DB; Jaseim Mitchell, So., WR/DB
Outlook: “We have a great senior class and very good sophomore class,” Melo said. “Most seniors will be three-year starters.”
Notes: Harrison started last season’s campaign on an 8-0 winning streak — the best streak in program history. But despite their fast start, Harrison could not secure a high seed in the playoffs due to a low strength of schedule ranking.
Sand Creek Scorpions
Coach: Ricky Lobato, 1st season as head coach
Last year: 1-9 (0-5 4A Foothills)
Returning athletes: Daxton Dawson, Sr., QB/LB; Christian Pramberg, Sr., TE/DB; Nasim Survine, Sr., WR/CB
Other top athletes: Shyheim Collins, Sr., WR/DE; Nathan Hollingsworth, Sr., QB/DL; Xavion Pagget, Sr., RB/DL; Justin Quandil, Jr., OL/DL; Herbert Rapp, Sr., WR/DB; Johnathon Vo, Jr., RB/LB
Outlook: “We have grown a ton over summer and it looks to be a year where the Sand Creek Scorpions are going to be a very competitive team on and off the field,” Lobato said. “I have seen the boys grow as a team and become more of a family throughout the last couple of months.”
Notes: Sand Creek has accumulated just two wins in the last three seasons, and has had just one winning season since 2004 (6-4 in 2013).
Coach: Draye Ersery, 1st season as head coach
Last year: 1-9 (0-5 3A South Central)
Returning athletes: Tristin Burris, DB/WR; Dezmond Deedom, LB; Louie Deluna, OL/DL; Braylon Smith, OL/DL; Elijah Smith; Issac Vigil, OL/DL/RB
Other top athletes: Andrell Sanders, Jr., WR
Outlook: “I think our boys are coming together at the right time,” Ersery said. “They are really learning how to play together as a unit. I’m looking forward to their growth and development for the upcoming season.”
Notes: Ersery takes over the head coaching position replacing Shane Rowland, who was 3-27 in three seasons. The Stallions have had three straight one-win seasons.
The Classical Academy Titans
Coach: Justin Rich, 2nd season as head coach
Last year: 9-2 (4-1 2A Tri-Peaks); The Titans earned a No. 5 seed in the 3A state playoffs but were knocked out in the second round by eventual state finalist, No. 4 La Junta.
Returning athletes: Jason Alexander, Sr., OL/DL; Ethan Boyles, Sr., QB/DB; Garrett Craig, Sr., OL/DL; Alec Day, Sr., LB/TE; Matthew Leland, Sr., OL/DL
Other top athletes: Nick Cleveringa, SR., WR/DB; Zach Gray, Sr., RB/OLB; Matthew Roper, Sr., Slot/DB
Outlook: “This class has been together at TCA running the same offense and defense now for four straight years,” Rich said. “They understand the scheme inside-out and have great football intelligence. I am excited to watch them execute.”
Notes: Last year Boyles had just seven pass attempts, but was the team’s top receiver with 472 yards. Now transitioning to quarterback, Rich has high aspirations for his new QB. “I really believe that our QB Ethan Boyles has a chance to be the top or one of the top athletes in the state in our classification,” Rich said.
Coach: Michael Zoesch, 16th season
Last year: 6-4 (3-2 2A Colorado)
Returning athletes: Nick Ball, Sr., QB; Cole Crocker, Sr., LB; Drew Francis, Sr., WR/DB; Reece Ullery, Sr., RB
Other top athletes: Jordan Hirman, So., LB; Morgan Simmons, Jr., OL; Koby Ullery, Jr., LB; Vince Weber, Jr., QB/DB
Outlook: “What excites me most is we will have great team speed and a very hard working group of kids,” Zoesch said.
Notes: Elizabeth will compete in the new 2A Tri-Peaks league against Manitou Springs, Woodland Park and The Classical Academy.
Manitou Springs Mustangs
Coach: Cory Archuleta, 3rd season as head coach
Last year: 4-5 (2-3 2A Tri-Peaks)
Returning athletes: Hunter Zentz, Sr.; Jayden Omi, Sr.; Stephen Gentzel, Sr.; Jaron Rizo, Sr.
Other top athletes: Orion Lavigne, Jr.
Outlook: “I’m excited to compete in the Tri-Peaks, and keep building interest in our football program in Manitou,” Archuleta said.
Notes: Manitou Springs’ offense will have big holes to fill in 2018 after losing its quarterback Cole Sienknecht and top receiver Jace Gwynn to graduation. The two combined for 84 percent of the team’s total yards last year.
Woodland Park Panthers
Coach: Joe Roskam, 8th season
Last year: 3-7 (1-4 3A Southern)
Returning athletes: Joey Babin, Jr., WR/DB; Jacob Garner, Sr., OL; Elliott Patterson, Jr., RB; Gino Sanfelice, Sr., LB; Michael Shrum, Sr., QB; Logan Taylor, Sr., LB
Other top athletes: Alex Malone, Sr., DB/WR/RB
Outlook: “We’re a young team, we will play several sophomores, but I am looking forward to seeing them mature quickly,” Roskam said.
Notes: Moving from all-local 3A Southern, Woodland Park will face a whole new crop of league opponents, including Elizabeth, Manitou Springs and The Classical Academy.
Colorado Springs Christian Lions
Coach: Jay Kersey, 15th season
Last year: 6-4 (3-2 1A Tri-Peaks) The Lions made it to the 1A state playoffs as a No. 14 seed, but fell in the first round to No. 3 Centauri.
Returning athletes: CSCS returns 22 letter-winners to the 2018 squad.
Outlook: “We will be very young, mostly sophomores, so we have to learn fast,” Kersey said. “Depth will be an issue for us — have to stay healthy. Team has put a lot of work in over the offseason to prepare.”
Notes: CSCS has just 28 athletes on its preseason roster, including 19 sophomores and freshman.
St. Mary’s Pirates
Coach: Archie Malloy III, 4th season at St. Mary’s
Last year: 1-8 (1-4 1A Tri-Peaks)
Returning athletes: Tom Allen, So., OL/DL; Sam Baldwin, Sr., QB/LB; Gabe Calhoun, Sr., K; Peter Catalano, Jr., OL/DL; Anthony Depner, Jr., OL/DL; Evan Faber, Jr., TE/LB; Dominic Hughes, Jr., OL/DL; Colin Jacobson, So., QB/DB; Landon Kane, So., WR/DB; Aston Medellin, So., OL/DL; Robert Muehlbauer, Jr., QB/LB; Owen Nelson, Jr., K/DB; John Nieman, Sr., RB/LB; Lucas Novak, So., OL/DL; Mason Pepper, Jr., RB/LB; Riley Smith, Jr., WR/DB; Andrew Sorensen, Jr., RB/LB; Joseph Tomaszweski, Sr., OL/DL; David Torrence, Jr., OL/DL; Blake Zuniga, Jr., RB/DB
Outlook: “We are excited about the valuable playing experience our players come in with this year,” Malloy said. “We have a close, tight-knit group of players that have shown their commitment to each other and our program and it is exciting to have the opportunity to compete in our new league.”
Notes: St. Mary’s will now face Florence in league competition with the new 1A Tri-Peaks alignment. Peyton, last year’s league champion has moved to 1A Santa Fe.
1A SANTA FE
Coach: Sasan Sattari, 1st season
Last year: 4-5 (3-1 1A Santa Fe)
Returning athletes: Ben Bridges, So., Athlete; Juan Cassillas, Jr., LB/OL; Zack Crowther, Sr., TE/LB; Logan D’Amore, Jr., OL/DL; Josh Garduno, So., WR/DB; Marvin Guity-Martinez, So., OL/DL; Thomas Huston, Jr., RB/LB; Brandon Merriam, Jr., QB/DB; Jacob Searle, Jr., WR/DB; Manuel Vargas, Jr., OL/DL
Other top athletes: Wyatt Chamblin, Fr., Ath; Justin Colvin, Fr., OL/DL; Heath Edinger, Jr., RB/LB; Jordan Granringer, Fr., OL/DL; Antonio Perez, Fr., Ath; Dakota Sargent, Fr., OL/DL; Joe Wolff, Fr., WR/DB
Outlook: “We are a very young group but there is an intensity coming from these athletes that is something special. They have a commitment to one another that shows in everything they do,” Sattari said. “These athletes are striving for excellence in all aspects of their life and I have been impressed with the way they handle themselves.”
Notes: Sattari takes over for Donte’ Stewart, who resigned in January after 11 years coaching the Thunderhawks. In addition, Ellicott will have to replace Stewart’s son Chiante’, who led the Thunderhawks with 2,393 total yards last season — making up for a staggering 82 percent of their total offense.
Coach: Richard Deems, 11th season
Last year: 8-2 (5-0 1A Tri-Peaks) The Panthers earned a No. 8 seed in the 1A state tournament, but fell in the first round to No. 9 Paonia.
Returning athletes: Jake St. Clair, Jr., OL/ DL; Ethan Compagna, Sr., WR; Daniel Frates, Sr., OL/DL; Josh Gonzales, Sr., RB/FS; J.D. Hart, Sr., RB/CB; Brandon Hussey, So., Jase Lantto, Jr., OL/DL; RB/LB; Nate McClarty, Sr., C/MLB; Colton Murray, CB/ WR; Gunner Saarela, Sr., RB/LB; Clay Sims, Sr., RB/LB; Trevor Walker, Sr., QB/DB
Outlook: “We have an experienced group of talented seniors,” Deems said.
Notes: Peyton returns Nate McClarty who was ranked among the top 5 Class 1A linebackers with 113 tackles as a junior. The Panthers also return Josh Gonzales who led the team averaging 134.9 all-purpose yards. He had 502 rushing yards, 305 receiving and more than 500 yards on special teams.
lindsey smith, the gazette