4A football preview: Pueblo South finally hosting a semifinal

Pueblo South's Nathan Spinuzzi. (Tim Visser/MaxPreps.com)

Pueblo South's Nathan Spinuzzi. (Tim Visser/MaxPreps.com)

View the 4A football playoff bracket.

No. 1 Montrose (11-1) at No. 5 Pueblo South (11-1)
1 p.m. Saturday at Dutch Clark Stadium

For the first time since the school opened in 1959, Pueblo South is hosting a semifinal game. The Colts reached the semis in 2003 and 2004, but were on the road each time.

"Hopefully we can take advantage of being at home and make the most of it," Pueblo South coach Ryan Goddard told ColoradoPreps.com's Scoreboard Show on Saturday.

Pueblo South has now won 10 consecutive games, including a 27-21 victory against Dakota Ridge in the quarterfinals. The Colts' offense has largely come on the ground -- they're a 65/35 split tilted toward rushing -- but Nathan Spinuzzi is a definitive threat to pass. He has 16 passing touchdowns and a 66.3 completion percentage.

Senior Garrett Krage shoulders most of the rushing load with 215 carries, 1,274 yards and 30 touchdowns this season.

Montrose, meanwhile, got a big boost as the playoffs started when senior running back Angelo Youngren returned from a broken collarbone after missing four games. In the Indians' two playoff wins, he has 306 yards and three touchdowns. Here's how valuable he can be: In Montrose's 39-34 win over Monach during the regular season -- arguably the biggest game of the 4A season to date -- he had 266 yards and three scores.

But Youngren's absence during the regular season also meant the emergence of junior Mike Rocha, who has 1,440 yards and 26 touchdowns this season. In the playoffs, Rocha has 174 yards and five scores.

If there's a difference between the two, it's this: Youngren is 5-10, 188; Rocha is 6-0, 202. Expect Rocha, who's listed as a fullback, to handle short-yardage and goal-to-go situations.

Pueblo South has never reached a championship game. Montrose last went in 1991 and 1990, but lost both times.

This is the first time Montrose has reached the semifinals under coach Todd Casebier.

"This is the fifth time we've been (to the quarterfinals), and it's the first time we've been able to win it," Casebier told the Scoreboard Show on Saturday. "We finally got over the hump."

No. 3 Pine Creek (10-2) at No. 6 Monarch (10-1)
1 p.m. Saturday at Centaurus HS

Pine Creek was last in the championship game during the 2011 season.

Pine Creek was last in the championship game during the 2011 season.

Pine Creek opened the season 1-2. The Eagles, though, opened with three 5A teams that all reached the postseason. Perhaps this is why teams play those games: They're tests, designed to prepare you for the postseason.

Well, Pine Creek certainly looks prepared. The Eagles took out Pueblo West, 35-18, in the first round, then handled a powerful Windsor program 25-0 in the quarters.

They've done it by spreading the ball around. Nine different plays have scored rushing touchdowns this season; six have caught a scoring pass. Still, Pine Creek still has the go-to guys. On the ground, that's Austin Schultz (743 yards, 10 touchdowns), Avery Anderson (318, seven) and Scotty Savage (676, six). Through the air, junior quarterback Tommy Lazzaro (21 touchdown passes) is targeting Austin Meachum (532 yards, eight scores) and Savage (550, seven).

Pine Creek is in search of its first championship game appearance since 2011, when it lost to Valor Christian.

Monarch, the defending champion, has rolled off seven wins in a row after that midseason loss to Montrose. During that stretch, the Coyotes are outscoring opponents by an average of 41.9 points.

Included were wins over playoff teams Montbello, Broomfield and Standley Lake during the regular season, as well as the 62-28 win over Vista Ridge to open the postseason, and then last week's quarterfinal victory against Loveland, 42-8.