Football rankings: Six defending champions head preseason polls

Valor Christian football team

Valor Christian is No. 1 in 5A's preseason poll. (Jack Eberhard/JacksActionShots.com)

As is tradition, the defending state football champions have a way of finding themselves atop the initial set of CHSAANow.com football rankings.

Of the seven teams that came away with titles in their respective classes, six will come into the 2016 season with a No. 1 ranking.

With 12 first place votes in Class 5A, Valor Christian comes in as the top dog in the states highest classification. They return MaxPrep All-American quarterback Dylan McCaffrey and emerging running back Josiah Davis on the offensive side of the ball.

Defensively, Noah Elliss leads a front seven that could rank as one of the top in the state. With balance on both sides of the ball, the Eagles will look for their seventh title in eight seasons.

State runner-up Pomona takes the No. 2 spot in the polls and are looking to bounce back after a tough loss to Valor in the 5A title game.

Mullen slides in at No. 3, while Cherry Creek and Grandview round out the top five teams.

Windsor football team

Windsor is No. 1 in 4A. (Matt Daniels/MattDanPhoto.com)

In 4A, defending champion Windsor is riding high after playing its way to the fourth football title in team history. The Wizards sit atop the rankings with Pine Creek nipping closely at their heels.

The Eagles had a string of back-to-back title reigns ended last season and are looking rebound from an unexpected exit in the 4A semifinals.

With two consecutive titles in hand, Pueblo East starts the season as the top team in the 3A polls, taking seven first place votes.

The Eagles went through Fort Morgan in the 3A semifinals last year and topped Roosevelt in the title game. Those two teams follow Pueblo East in the rankings with the Roughriders sitting at No. 2 and the Mustangs coming in at No. 3.

As a newcomer to 3A, Longmont comes in at No. 4 despite receiving six first place votes.

The 2A poll starts with the most distribution among voters in the class. Bayfield comes in at No. 1 with three first place votes. Delta, a team dropping down to 2A with the new football classification cutoff numbers, received the most first place votes with five, but the Panthers come in at No. 4 to start the year.

The Classical Academy — another newcomer to 2A for this cycle — lands at No. 5.

Buena Vista Crowley County football

Buena Vista is No. 1 in 1A. (Bill Cronin)

Just as they ended last season duking it out with each other, Buena Vista and Paonia battled for the top spot in the 1A polls with the Demons coming away with the top spot.

They received 12 votes for the No. 1 spot while the Panthers snagged four.

Burlington (No. 3) and Crowley County (No. 4) also received high rankings after making playoff runs last year.

Other quarterfinal teams that made the top 10 this season are Limon (No. 5) and Meeker (No. 10).

Like in the 1A polls, the 8-man state champ and runner-up come in as the top two teams this preseason. Sedgwick County and Akron take the No. 1 and No. 2 spots respectively with Sargent coming in at No. 3 and Norwood coming in at No. 4.

Overall, seven of the eight quarterfinal teams in the 8-man playoffs come into the season ranked in the top 10.

Fleming comes in as the only No. 1 team who does not have championship hardware from a year ago. The Wildcats lost in last year's 6-man semifinals to eventual champion Eads, but come in this year as the preseason favorite to take the state title.

After coming away with the state title, Eads comes in at No. 2 despite receiving the majority of the first place votes.

State runner-up Arickaree/Woodlin comes in at No. 4.

Kit Carson (No. 3) and Pawnee (No. 5) round out the top five teams in the 6-man poll.

The rankings, voted upon by coaches and select media members, are the official polls of the Association. Polls are released each Monday during the regular season.

Complete rankings are below.

CHSAANow.com Football Polls

Voted upon by coaches and select media members around the state. These rankings have no bearing on postseason seeding.

Go to: 5A | 4A | 3A | 2A | 1A

Class 5A
RK TEAM W-L PTS
1 Valor Christian (12) 0-0 140
2 Pomona (1) 0-0 115
3 Mullen (1) 0-0 99
4 Cherry Creek 0-0 98
5 Grandview 0-0 96
6 Columbine 0-0 88
7 Ralston Valley 0-0 44
8 Regis Jesuit 0-0 39
9 Eaglecrest 0-0 17
10 Fairview 0-0 14
Others receiving votes:
Doherty 13, Chaparral 11, ThunderRidge 10, Cherokee Trail 9, Mountain Vista 8, Fountain-Fort Carson 6, Arapahoe 5, Rocky Mountain 5, Fossil Ridge 2, Legend 2, Rangeview 2, Highlands Ranch 1.

Class 4A
RK TEAM W-L PTS
1 Windsor (8) 0-0 126
2 Pine Creek (5) 0-0 111
3 Denver South 0-0 69
4 Loveland 0-0 68
5 Heritage (1) 0-0 63
6 Vista Ridge 0-0 55
7 Dakota Ridge 0-0 48
8 Ponderosa 0-0 35
9 Wheat Ridge 0-0 33
10 Broomfield 0-0 30
Others receiving votes:
Chatfield 25, Pueblo South 25, Fruita Monument 20, Monarch 17, Fort Collins 10, Montrose 10, Grand Junction 5, Greeley West 5, Pueblo Centennial 4, Pueblo West 4, Rampart 4.

Class 3A
RK TEAM W-L PTS
1 Pueblo East (7) 0-0 126
2 Roosevelt 0-0 100
3 Fort Morgan (1) 0-0 89
4 Longmont (6) 0-0 75
5 Discovery Canyon 0-0 71
6 Palisade 0-0 65
7 Rifle 0-0 40
8 Evergreen 0-0 37
9 Holy Family 0-0 30
10 Thompson Valley 0-0 26
Others receiving votes:
Mead 23, Durango 16, Lutheran 10, Pueblo County 9, Eagle Valley 8, Lewis-Palmer 8, Silver Creek 8, Vista Peak 8, Palmer Ridge 7, Mitchell 6, Alameda 5, Conifer 1, Pueblo Central 1, Woodland Park 1.

Class 2A
RK TEAM W-L PTS
1 Bayfield (3) 0-0 104
2 Kent Denver (1) 0-0 97
3 Platte Valley (2) 0-0 90
4 Delta (5) 0-0 78
5 The Classical Academy 0-0 68
6 D'Evelyn (3) 0-0 67
7 La Junta (1) 0-0 62
8 Resurrection Christian 0-0 58
9 Sterling 0-0 47
10 Brush 0-0 38
Others receiving votes:
Eaton 33, Faith Christian 20, Bishop Machbeuf 9, Manitou Springs 8, Moffat County 8, Elizabeth 7, Cortez 6, Fort Lupton 5, Steamboat Springs 5, Arvada 4, The Academy 4, Gunnison 3, Basalt 2, Weld Central 2.

Class 1A
RK TEAM W-L PTS
1 Buena Vista (12) 0-0 149
2 Paonia (4) 0-0 146
3 Burlington 0-0 83
4 Crowley County 0-0 76
5 Limon 0-0 71
6 Strasburg 0-0 52
7 Bennett 0-0 50
8 Platte Canyon 0-0 41
9 Monte Vista 0-0 35
10 Meeker 0-0 34
Others receiving votes:
Rye 33, Cedaredge 24, Centauri 24, Dolores 16, Ellicott 15, Wiggins 14, Center 8, Dolores Huerta 8, Holyoke 8, Vail Christian 8, Colorado Springs Christian 6, Olathe 6, Rocky Ford 6, Grand Valley 5, Byers 4, Highland 4, Peyton 3, Trinidad 3, Hotchkiss 2, Front Range Christian 1.

8-man
RK TEAM W-L PTS
1 Sedgwick County (8) 0-0 96
2 Akron 0-0 87
3 Sargent 0-0 80
4 Norwood (2) 0-0 73
5 Dayspring Christian 0-0 61
6 Hoehne (1) 0-0 60
7 Merino 0-0 31
8 Granada 0-0 26
9 Caliche (1) 0-0 23
10 Dove Creek 0-0 20
Others receiving votes:
West Grand 15, Sangre de Cristo 14, Holly 12, Springfield 12, Sanford 10, Las Animas 9, Mancos 9, Miami-Yoder 6, Haxtun 5, Plateau Valley 3, Del Norte 2, Hayden 2, Soroco 2, Gilpin County 1, McClave 1.

6-man
RK TEAM W-L PTS
1 Fleming (2) 0-0 76
2 Eads (4) 0-0 74
3 Kit Carson (1) 0-0 67
4 Arickaree/Woodlin (1) 0-0 58
5 Pawnee 0-0 31
6 La Veta (1) 0-0 30
7 Peetz 0-0 28
8 Briggsdale 0-0 19
9 Stratton/Liberty 0-0 18
10 Cotopaxi 0-0 17
Others receiving votes:
Sierra Grande 13, Hanover 12, Antonito 11, Otis 10, Cheraw 7, Cripple Creek/Victor 4, Genoa-Hugo 4, Primero 4, Cheyenne Wells 3, Walsh 3, Hi-Plains 2, Mountain Valley 2, Aguilar 1, Idalia 1.