2017 5A Preseason Football Rankings
2017 @303Gonzo 6/12/2017
The summer sessions began May 30, 2017 as many high school (HS) teams got in the required days before attending and competing in college team camps. Fort Collins and Pueblo seemed to be the early winners. However, UNC in Greeley will host a camp in later June while CSU-Pueblo will continue more weekly camps until July 22. Regardless this is the time many HS coaching staffs get to know new players and evaluate those in the program since freshmen year. For some teams they have 11 weeks to get the sand out as zero week happens on August 24-26, 2017. Week 1 will begin on a Thursday August 31 and complete on September 2nd, 2017.
As teams try to get better for 2017 the fact is RPI had a major impact on the 2016 playoff selection, a year many want to forget but will have to deal with again in 2017. The 2 year cycle called “Water Fall” was more like a mudslide that allowed sub .500 teams entrance into the 16 team format down from 32 in previous seasons. Many administrators thought eliminating 2 dominating conferences would make 5A more competitive. Unfortunately all it did was create more confusion, travel and lower attendance than ever before. In addition to more Blowouts in what is termed “Mercy Rule” games has athletes rethinking playing the sport in 2017. The fact remains certain programs are allowed to finesse the rules in their attendance area and the association turns the other cheek and wipes their hands of the imbalances. Hopefully in July when the new administration takes over they can make positive impacts or form an immediate committee so neighborhood teams can compete in 2018 when the new 2 year cycle begins. 6A and geography should be a high priority and a possible “Private School” conference so it allows public schools that follow the rules to compete.
As the summer weights and daily speed camps attempt to get teams better, one thing for sure is this season will be more competitive but most likely the same final 8 playoff teams will be in the mix come week 11 of the 2017 season. Many of these teams took their lumps by playing younger players early as Freshmen or Sophomores and now they will have double digit reps and Varsity game time under their helmets. More programs are realizing playing the BEST 11 is more important than playing graduating Seniors as a reward for 4 years of service. The sport of football participation is dwindling but the talent is getting better and is most notable on NLI SigningDay. 2018 has some talent but the best class is the 2019 graduates who truly love the sport of football.
- The most noticeable change will be moving off the number 1 and 2 teams from the past 2 seasons of Valor and Pomona. Both quality programs that seems to have the process down and will compete in 2017 but others in 5A have grown organically and have developed players at a younger age to compete in 2017 and 2018.
So here is the 2017 @303Gonzo 6/12/2017 5A Colorado Football 5A Pre season Top 10*
- Legend /RJ/Eaglecrest/Doherty/Fairview (TIE)
Grandview was my last season favorite to go 10-0 and came close. A loss to rival Eaglecrest after an out of state contest was the only blemish on the season until a loaded Valor team beat GV in the playoffs. Grandview has a great attendance area and a solid competitive balance with feeder youth teams that want to be Wolves. The defense is solid and as they retool on offense with a new QB and RB they will be the team to beat in 2017.
Pomona is not second fiddle but to replace some seriously talented 2017 graduates is tough but they are a work in progress. The Panthers will rely on a Senior QB that has a group of talent at WR but their key is when or if their stud RB will return. It is always hard to loose a playmaker and contributor but the community will rally and these tough dudes will compete in a very aggressive schedule that kicks off in zero week versus JK Mullen.
Highlands Ranch located blocks away from Valor has all the keys to compete this season and may be built for a next season title run but could shock us all in 5A. The 2018 graduates are the building blocks but one of the HR defensive players suffered a recent injury and HR will have to juggle the roster by zero week against Smoky Hill. HR has one of the best 2019 graduate classes and has depth to compete. Expect this Falcons team to put up some points as their coaches are dialed in and ready to compete after taking their lumps for 3 years. Last game that haunts the team and staff is a playoff match up versus Columbine in a controversial last second drive that denied progress for the offense and potential playoff win for HR.
Columbine is a perennial contender and has a head coach that was expected to retire after 2016. However after 2 consecutive successful freshmen squads the Rebels are building success once again. CHS also suffers from multiple schools in the attendance area that includes a couple private schools that often snag players. If this was Texas or Oklahoma and large enrollments like CCHS then Columbine would be in State title games every year. Look for them to replace a talented graduate QB with a youngster and continue to develop some big bubbas upfront and on the edge. Columbine will compete again as they have fire in their bellies and an investment that will provide a reward that may be down the road as this season is a rebuild based on talented and developing youth.
Valor is probably the casual fans number one. However, the question remains on defense and the front 5 graduating. The Eagles have a great process in place and do spend heavily on coaches to develop players. The question remains have they hit a barrier as the numbers in little league are dwindling and some top talents were not lured away from home attendance area public schools. Valor will still compete but have to replace an offensive center and hope the linemen stay healthy and focussed. Make note their line coach moved over to Rock Canyon and the one year he was not on staff VC lost to CCHS. Coincidence ? Either way the depth is not as strong in years past and if basketball on turf happens a few hungry area teams may best them on Friday nights. Remember VC was 1-3 and had GAC been healthy it could have easily been 0-4. At the end of the day games 1-5 seem like preseason games for the Eagles and the last 5 matter the most. VC will continue to develop a talented 2019 class and a few youngsters while hoping the 2018 guys can instill team success they have learned over the past 3 that includes 2 rings. Both Legend and Highlands Ranch are in conference games and both reaching for the brass ring. Based on the format a 5-0 conference team gets an automatic playoff berth so keep an eye on games week 6 and 8. Valor does a great job developing athletes but CC almost beat them in the playoffs with a motley crew.
Cherry Creek has the largest attendance area and often garners some all star little leaguers each year statewide. There has been a lot of hype in recent years and well father time may have caught up. Meanwhile they will be big upfront and shear numbers will help at depth as there will be some holes to replace. Skill seems to be the strength but them are young. Varsity reps from 2019 players is the teams biggest difference maker with a couple of 2018 graduates. Playing in a lay up conference does not help them down the playoff stretch but the first half of the season will determine how healthy the program will be down the stretch.
Mullen is interesting as they return 8 guys on each side of the ball and need to replace skill. Once again a 2019 athlete will be at QB with some talented 2018 dudes upfront and catching balls. This is a team that may shock everyone and almost parallel HR. So it will be interesting to see how the Mustangs compete in arguably the toughest conference that includes Columbine and Fairview. Mullen has bitten the bullet for 5 straight years playing and developing athletes so it will be no shocker to see who surprises us on Friday nights. This may be the most complete team outside Grandview.
Team 8-12 have some talents and a majority will rely on the play of the QBs. All play in tough conferences and are made up of local area talents. However, the injury bug and depth have not proven well in spring or early summer sessions. Legend seems to be the most improved out of this group but will have to knock off VC to be considered a contender. RJ has some adjusting to do as the graduates on defense made the team so valuable last season. I would expect 2-way play and a lot of running as RJ has some stallions in the back field. Meanwhile Eaglecrest enjoyed success last season but lacks depth as does Fairview and Doherty is the wild card as the Springs team always is competitive.
All in all 5A is anyones games this season but the RPI will dictate playoff berths. The seedings will be based on revenues not match ups as waterfall continues to weaken the gate monies.
As always I am sure some people will disagree and some may agree. So feel free to comment or respond. Remember this a project of passion and FREE content. I know others troll the twitter account @303Gonzo for their paid subscriptions and articles. However many hours traveling to fields, watching film and talking to athletes went into evaluating and ranking.
See you on the fields.