No. 7 ThunderRidge (5-0) vs. Mountain Vista (4-1)
When/where: 7 p.m. Friday at Halftime Help Stadium
Last meeting: ThunderRidge 35, vs. Mountain Vista 16, Oct. 7, 2021
Off to their best start in 12 years, the Grizzlies enter conference play having won each of their last four games by double digits. Linebacker Gavin Olshan (17 tackles for loss, two takeaways) and defensive end Kaden Shouse (15 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks) lead a disruptive T-Ridge defense that’s registered 55 tackles for loss and 12 takeaways through five weeks. That unit is sure to be tested by a Mountain Vista offense, led by sophomore QB Austyn Modrzewski (1,657 yards, 17 TDs passing), that’s averaging 41.4 points and 461.6 yards per game.
No. 8 Pine Creek (4-1) vs. Fountain-Fort Carson (4-1)
When/where: 7 p.m. Friday at Fountain-Fort Carson
Last meeting: Pine Creek 21, vs. FFC 7, Sept. 16, 2017
A pair of programs that moved up to the 5A level in the offseason, and have thrived early on, meet in the first week of league play. Pine Creek has found its footing since a Week 2 loss at third-ranked Valor Christian, with junior running back Mason Miller ripping off three consecutive 100-yard games on the ground. Meanwhile, the Fountain-Fort Carson defense led by middle linebackers Michael Madrid (48 tackles, 1.5 sacks) and Tai Faavae (48 tackles, one interception) has shut out three straight opponents since its Week 2 loss at Highlands Ranch.
No. 4 Grandview (4-1) vs. Eaglecrest (5-0)
When/where: 6 p.m. Saturday at Legacy Stadium
Last meeting: Grandview 38, at Eaglecrest 17, Oct. 15, 2021
A year after slogging through a disappointing 1-9 season, the Raptors are unbeaten and back in the thick of things with head coach Mike Schmitt back at the helm. Running back Diego Cearns has been spectacular, topping 100 yards in all but one game so far this season. That includes a 301-yard, three-TD tour de force against Lakewood last weekend. Now comes the 5A Centennial League gauntlet, starting with fourth-ranked Grandview, and a chance to show the rest of the state that Eaglecrest is back among 5A’s elite.
No. 8 Denver South (4-1) vs. No. 3 Ponderosa (4-1)
When/where: 7 p.m. Thursday at EchoPark Stadium
Last meeting: Ponderosa 29, vs. Denver South 15, Oct. 12, 2019
A Ponderosa defense that just got burned for 48 points and 527 total yards in a loss to top-ranked Palmer Ridge must turn around six days later and face one of the most explosive offenses in 4A. The Ravens’ spread attack enters the game averaging 49.8 points per game, with quarterback Joseph Capra (1,543 total yards) responsible for 27 TDs passing/running. Ponderosa has a dangerous dual threat QB of its own in Zach Stryker (1,310 total yards, 19 TDs passing/running). The defense that strings together stops first is likely the one that comes away with a W.
Heritage (3-2) vs. No. 4 Fruita Monument (4-1)
When/where: 6 p.m. Friday at Stocker Stadium
Last meeting: Heritage 39, at Fruita Monument 19, Sept. 6, 2013
Fruita Monument survived an upset bid from Bear Creek last week, scoring 10 points in the final quarter to come away with the win. Now comes a date with red-hot Heritage, which has rebounded from back-to-back losses to 5A opponents with three straight wins by 33 points or more. The Eagles offense is averaging 45 points/game over that streak, while the defense hasn’t yielded more than one touchdown in any of those wins. The latter will be difficult to maintain against a Wildcats offense that is averaging 325 rush yards/game.
Erie (2-3) vs. No. 5 Loveland (4-1)
When/where: 7 p.m. Friday at Ray Patterson Stadium
Last meeting: N/A
A brutal schedule that included three teams currently ranked in the top 10 over the first five weeks produced an even start for an Erie program coming off a 4A championship game run. Things get no easier with a trip to Loveland, which responded to a one-point loss to 5A Fossil Ridge in Week 1 by outscoring its next four opponents by a combined score of 199-21. Quarterback Garrett Harstad has run for 549 yards and nine TDs over the last four games. Can a Tigers defense that’s struggled with consistency find a way to slow him down?
Bear Creek (4-1) vs. Golden (2-3)
When/where: 7 p.m. Friday at Marv Kay Stadium
Last meeting: Golden 41, at Bear Creek 27, Oct. 28, 2021
The Demons’ annual homecoming game at Marv Kay Stadium comes on the heels of back-to-back one-point games — the first a win (43-42 vs. No. 8 Denver South) and the second a loss (36-35 at Palisade). Bear Creek is coming off a heartbreaking loss of its own (31-27 at No. 4 Fruita Monument) in which it was unable to hold on to a fourth-quarter lead. Both teams feature electric quarterback play, although each QB does it in slightly different ways. Bear Creek’s Adrian Rico (1,339 pass yards, 14 TDs) does his damage from the pocket, while Golden’s Jazel Riley IV punishes teams as both a passer (521 yards, 6 TDs) and runner (766 yards, 8 TDs).
No. 2 Broomfield (5-0) vs. No. 10 Dakota Ridge (2-3)
When/where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Jeffco Stadium
Last meeting: Broomfield 17, vs. Dakota Ridge 15, Nov. 30, 2019
Midway through the regular season, Broomfield has yet to enter a fourth quarter with less than a two-touchdown lead. Led by senior quarterback Cole LaCrue (1,029 yards, 12 TDs passing) and senior running back Ryland Boehmer (540 yards, 6 TDs), Broomfield’s multi-dimensional offense forces teams to defend the entire field. It will be on the Dakota Ridge offense, which has scored 127 points over the last three weeks, to keep pace.
4A No. 9 Vista Ridge (1-3) vs. Northfield (4-0)
When/where: 7 p.m. Friday at All City Field
Last meeting: N/A
A Northfield program in its fifth year in existence in northeast Denver appears primed to break out after giving up just 32 points over four dominant wins. An opportunistic Nighthawks defense has notched multiple takeaways in all four games. But a step up in class awaits with the state’s top-rated senior passer, Arizona commit Brayden Dorman (1,615 yards, 20 TDs passing), and his Washington State-bound target Brandon Hills (753 yards, 10 TDs receiving) on the opposite side. Find a way to shut them down and a top-10 ranking in 3A awaits.