3A football preview: High seeds rule the bracket

Silver Creek-Mead football

Silver Creek faces Delta in the 3A semifinals. (Jack Eberhard/JacksActionShots.com)

View the 3A football playoff bracket.

No. 9 Silver Creek (9-2) at No. 13 Delta (9-3)
1 p.m. Saturday, Delta HS

If there's a busted bracket, it's in 3A. Still alive are the classification's Nos. 6, 7, 9 and 13 seeds. Nos. 1, 4 and 5 went down in the first round; Nos. 2 and 3 lost last week. So it's clear than anything can happen here.

Still, if there is a favorite of the remaining teams, one might look to Silver Creek. The Raptors are the defending champions, after all. And 2013 is shaping up to look very much like 2012.

Last season, Silver Creek was unbeaten, ranked No. 1 and rolling along before it was stunned in back-to-back games in the middle of the season -- losses to Skyline and Roosevelt. Suddenly, the Raptors fell completely off the radar. They entered that postseason as the No. 10 seed -- then promptly marched through the postseason en route to the school's first football championship.

This year, Silver Creek was again rolling and ranked first following a dismantling of then-No. 3 Holy Family in Week 3. Then, the Raptors dropped a 31-28 game to Frederick. Three games later, Roosevelt again beat Silver Creek. So when the 2013 playoffs started, Silver Creek was a No. 9 seed and again off the radar.

Well, following wins over Evergreen and Pueblo East, the Raptors are back in the semifinals, and back on the radar.

As is typically the case with Silver Creek, they've done it through the air. Senior Ben Sjobakken has thrown for 27 touchdowns -- 11 to Zane Lindsey. Still, the rushing attack has held its own this year. Sophomore Anthony Kasper has nine scores and senior Josh Quiroz has six. Together, the two have combined for 1,681 yards.

On the other side, Delta is in search of its first championship game appearance since 1961. The 13th-seeded Panthers have upset No. 4 Holy Family and No. 12 Glenwood Springs to get to this point.

Against Glenwood Springs, it took a stop at the 2-yard line in the final seconds to preserve a 13-9 win.

"To be able to limit a team like that, especially at the end, is just tremendous," Delta coach Ben Johnson told the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent after the game.

Like Silver Creek, Delta can also put the ball up -- junior Cade Gafford has 23 touchdown passes to just three interceptions, and senior Ryan Whiteside has 14 scoring receptions -- but its ground-game is a focus. Sophomore Jonney Pounce has 1,668 yards and 16 touchdowns, and senior Tyler Sandoval has 10 scores. Delta has been a 60/40 run-to-pass team, but threw the ball just seven times in a wet game last week.

No. 7 The Classical Academy (10-2) at No. 6 Coronado (11-1)
1 p.m. Garry Berry Stadium

Two weeks ago, The Classical Academy had never won a postseason game. Now, the Titans are in the semifinals. So, yes, it is their first time reaching this point in the postseason.

The school opened in 1997, and as recently was 2011 was 2-8. Now, TCA has won seven games in a row.

"It's hard to put words to what this is like," Titans coach David Bervig told the Colorado Springs Gazette this week. "We went off the radar and our kids never stopped believing and they are fighting for each other and there's a great chemistry."

Eight different players have scored at least two rushing touchdowns for TCA this season. Tops among them is senior Andrew Register, who has nine scores and 810 yards.

Junior Peter Troupe has seven rushing touchdowns, and three more scoring catches. Quarterback Jantzen Ryals has throw 13 touchdowns and for 1,692 yards.

Coronado began the season 9-0 and was ranked No. 1 heading into its final regular season game with Discovery Canyon. The Cougars lost that game, but have rebounded for consecutive hard-fought wins over Rifle (34-31) and Roosevelt (29-27) in the playoffs.

Junior running back Austin Micci has rushed for 1,254 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Fellow junior Isaah Duvall has 996 and 10.

The semifinal game will be a rematch of Coronado's 16-6 win on Aug. 29.

"We saw a little bit of their offensive scheme, and they've gotten a lot better at it," Coronado coach Bobby Lizzarraga told ColoradoPreps.com's Scoreboard Show on Saturday. "It's a new offense that they ran this year. Obviously, they've gotten very good at it, so we need to go back and fine-tune what we're doing to prepare for TCA."

Coronado has reached the championship game just once, in 1982, when it lost to Loveland in 3A.