Fairview, Palisade and Pueblo East among football teams with returning offensive stars

Fairview Horizon football

(Steve Oathout)

The start of football season in Colorado is just two short weeks away. With some players having graduated and moved on from every team, a new set of standout student-athletes will be in the spotlight in 2019.

But there are plenty of players coming back this season and with them come numbers that were impressive even a year ago.

Looking at the offensive side of the ball, there are plenty of reasons to be excited for the start of football season in 2019.

Passing:

When it comes to passing stats, Fairview quarterback Aidan Atkinson led the way for all quarterbacks in 2018. The senior to be threw for a staggering 3,952 yards last year. It was a record-setting year all the way around for him and the Knights.

For comparison, Highlands Ranch quarterback Jake Rubley threw for 1,951 yards and comes into the season No. 2 behind Atkinson in returning passing yards.

The top-three passers in 4A all return in 2019 making the prospect of an aerial battle late in the season very intriguing.

Ponderosa Skyline football

(Kevin Prickett/prickettpix.com)

Skyline's Chase Silva threw for 2,829 yards as he helped the Falcons reach the 4A championship game. Centaurus' Nick Faraca threw for 2,436 yards with Grand Junction Central's Max Marsh threw for 2,296. The combination of Marsh and LSU football commit Kole Taylor is going to be a major attraction on the Western Slope this fall.

The top five passers from 3A all graduated a year ago making George Washington's Jaydon Green the top returning passer in the class as he threw for 1,722. Pueblo South's Logan Petit (1,581 yards) and Durango's Jordan Woolverton (1,560 yards) are other 3A names to keep an eye on.

Aspen's Tyler Ward led 2A with 2,202 yards last year and will be back as a junior in 2019 as will Meeker's Ryan Phelan who topped all 1A passers with 1,869 in 2018.

Front Range Christian's Luke Hiltman led all 8-man passers with 2,079 yards and will be back this fall. Briggsdale senior Tyler Blickem returns with 2,368 passing yards from last year which topped all of 6-man.

Granada sophomore Dominic Coleman got the attention of the class by throwing for 1,609 yards as a freshman.

In terms of touchdowns, Atkinson set the standard state-wide with 55. Blickem threw for 36 and Silva connected on 30 touchdown passes.

Rushing:

Pueblo West Rampart football

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

The ground attack throughout the state lost a lot of spild performers from last year. Smoky Hill's Obasanjo Sanni returns as the top returning rusher as he cleared the 2,000-yard mark last year and averaged 181 yards per game.

Legacy's Dakota Key (1,799) and Fountain-Fort Carson's Q. Jones (1,406) round out 5A's top three returning rushers.

There were standout runners from 3A that are also making their way back this year. Palisade's Cam Tucker ran for 1,662 and Thomas Jefferson's Daveon Hunter ran for 1,410 yards in nine games.

In 4A, the top two returners both come out of Academy District 20 as Pine Creek's David Moore III returns with 1,494 yards from last year. Down the road at Rampart, Chris Yoo totaled 1,317 yards and both backs will be seniors this fall.

The biggest loss of production on the ground comes in 2A where 10 of the top 12 rushers from last year were seniors. Coming into this season, just Brush's Nick Wellen (1,250) and Bishop Machebeuf's Darius Richards (1,012) return with over 1,000 rushing yards from last year.

That's a big difference in 1A where the top two rushers from 2018 will be back as seniors this fall. Colorado Springs Christian senior Peyton Brones led all of 1A with 1,724 yards last year while Monte Vista's Kaidon Wenta sat right behind him on the leaderboard with 1,475.

Dove Creek's Chorbin Cressler broke into the top five of all 8-man rushers as just a freshman last year with 1,243 yards and will look to build on that momentum this season. Pikes Peak Christian's Hudson Grant is 8-man's No. 2 returning rusher with 1,188 yards in 2018.

Tucker returns with the most rushing touchdowns from last year with 28. Stratton/Liberty's Jaret Lichty ran for 27 and Brones punched the ball in 24 times.

Receiving

Losing Kain Medrano was always going to be a big deal for Pueblo East. But if there is a silver lining, it's that Marvon London, Jr. appears ready to fill the void.

The senior receiver for the Eagles amassed more receiving yards than any other player returning in 2019. His 1,083 yards were seventh in the state last fall and with Medrano gone, the number has a chance of increasing this season.

Palmer Ridge's Deuce Roberson (937) and Harrison's Seth Fuller (928) are the other top 3A receivers coming back.

Fairview's Henry Blackburn hauled 890 receiving yards to lead all 5A returners and should thrive again with Atkinson still tossing passes for the Knights.

Heritage junior Terrance Ferguson totaled 972 receiving yards making him the top returning 4A receiver this season.

Two of last season's top three receivers will be back in 2A. Aspen's Max Ufkes led the class with 920 receiving yards and Englewood's Nate Gravagno ranked third with 824.

As much as 1A had coming back in terms of rushing production, that is not the case with receiving. Estes Park sophomore Calum Torrey had 442 receiving yards last year which is the most for anyone who was not a senior.

Sangre de Cristo's Mario Enriquez leds all 8-man returners with 594 yards while Deer Trail's Dayne Woodis comes back with 730 yards which was second in 6-man last year.

Blackburn returns with the most receiving touchdowns form last year with 17. Woodis and Roberson each hauled in 11 touchdown catches last year.