The groundwork, as is so often the case, was laid four years ago. Tom McCartney saw it in his freshmen then. Those freshmen are now seniors, and that group has Fairview seeded No. 1 overall in the Class 5A football playoffs.
"We knew that it was a special group," McCartney, Fairview's coach, said Sunday morning. "We also knew that for them to do the things and reach some of the goals they've set, you've got to have junior compliments. You want to know that your juniors are also part of that.
"We've been kind of waiting on this group of seniors for a while, and a lot of them have gotten a lot of playing time as sophomores and juniors," he continued. "When you get in those kinds of battles against teams like Pomona and Ralston Valley, and Legacy and Arvada West and Boulder -- and Grandview in the playoffs last year, and Regis the year before -- all of those experiences help. So, yes, to be honest with you, we've seen this coming from this particular group. We knew this was a talented group."
The Knights were the lone 5A team to finish the regular season unbeaten (9-0). They were ranked No. 2 in the CHSAANow.com football poll in recent weeks, but were No. 1 in Wild Card points during that stretch, and finished atop the final Wild Card standings released Sunday morning.
And so, when the 5A bracket was unveiled, it was Fairview in the No. 1 spot. (See the full bracket.)
"It feels awesome," McCartney said. "It's playoff football. We're just going to prepare. We understand that if you win you move on, and if you don't you're done. We want to keep playing. The best way to keep playing is to be prepared and to improve."
Fairview draws No. 32 Mountain Vista (3-6) in the first round. The two teams played in 2010 and 2011, both Mountain Vista wins.
"Our seniors, when they were freshmen, played them. And so we know a little bit about them," McCartney said. "We've got a ton of respect for coach (Ric) Cash. His teams are always prepared. They're always hard-nosed."
Rounding out the top-5 seeds in 5A were No. 2 Valor Christian, No. 3 Cherry Creek, No. 4 Regis Jesuit and No. 5 ThunderRidge.
The top 16 seeds host in the first round, meaning No. 6 Cherokee Trail, No. 7 Columbine, No. 8 Pomona, No. 9 Chatfield, No. 10 Grand Junction, No. 11 Mountain Range, No. 12 Doherty, No. 13 Prairie View, No. 14 Rangeview, No. 15 Ralston Valley and No. 16 Douglas County will get home games.
Other qualifiers were No. 17 Legend, No. 18 Arapahoe, No. 19 Overland, No. 20 Grandview, No. 21 Gateway, No. 22 Heritage, No. 23 Westminster, No. 24 Rocky Mountain, No. 25 Fountain-Fort Carson, No. 26 Hinkley, No. 27 Arvada West, No. 28 Castle View, No. 29 Fort Collins, No. 30 Lakewood and No. 31 Eaglecrest.
Brush is 2A's top seed. As the top-8 host in the first round, No. 2 Manitou Springs, No. 3 Platte Valley, No. 4 Faith Christian, No. 5 Gunnison, No. 6 Bennett, No. 7 Kent Denver and No. 8 Florence will all get home games.
Also qualifying in 2A were No. 9 Strasburg, No. 10 Lamar, No. 11 Olathe, No. 12 Fort Lupton, No. 13 Aspen, No. 14 Ridge View Academy, No. 15 Jefferson and No. 16 The Academy.
In 1A, Buena Vista got the top seed. No. 2 Limon, No. 3 Centauri, No. 4 Paonia, No. 5 Monte Vista, No. 6 Hotchkiss, No. 7 Yuma and No. 8 Platte Canyon will also host first-round games.
Additional 1A qualifiers were No. 9 Resurrection Christian, No. 10 Rye, No. 11 Burlington, No. 12 Cedaredge, No. 13 Colorado Springs Christian, No. 14 Wray, No. 15 Lyons and No. 16 Front Range Christian.
Hoehne is 8-man's top seed. Also hosting in the first round will be No. 2 Dayspring Christian, No. 3 Norwood, No. 4 Simla, No. 5 Caliche, No. 6 Kiowa, No. 7 Sargent and No. 8 Dove Creek. Also qualifying were No. 9 Sanford, No. 10 Vail Christian, No. 11 Merino, No. 12 Walsh, No. 13 Akron, No. 14 West Grand, No. 15 Fowler and No. 16 Granada.
Liberty/Stratton grabbed 6-man's top seed. Also qualifying were No. 2 Hi-Plains, No. 3 Eads, No. 4 Prairie, No. 5 Otis, No. 6 Peetz, No. 7 Hanover and No. 8 Flagler