Columbine football returns its Triple-H running threat

LITTLETON — It’s the million dollar question a lot of major college football programs across the country would like answered … Where will Columbine senior Andrew Gentry commit to continue his football career.

“Right now I really don’t have a timetable,” said Gentry, a 6-foot-8 and 310-pound offensive lineman who has well over 30 Division I offers on the table. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes until after the season on signing day (Dec. 18). If it feels right I’ll make that decision during the season as well.”

Columbine senior Andrew Gentry gets interviewed during the CHSAA Media Day on Aug. 9 at the UCHealth Training Center. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Gentry might go down as one of the most heavily recruited offensive linemen ever out of the state of Colorado, let alone Jeffco. He has already taken four official trips — Notre Dame, Virginia, BYU and Michigan. Gentry said Stanford would likely be his fifth and final visit during this fall season.

Some of the offers he has already received are from the likes of LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M, Alabama, Miami, Penn State, UCLA, Kansas, Tennessee, Stanford, Notre Dame, Michigan, Florida and the list seems to go on-and-on.

“It’s been fun, but at the same time I’m looking forward to getting it over with at the same time,” Gentry said of the recruiting process. “I’ve kind of put it on back for now. I’m looking forward to enjoying my senior year, having fun with these guys for one last year and having a great season.”

Gentry will provide the majority of the experience on the offensive line. He is the lone returning all-conference selection up front for the Rebels, ranked No. 3 in CHSAA’s 5A football preseason rankings.

“Andrew isn’t only a behemoth, but Andrew wants to be the best,” Columbine coach Andy Lowry said of Gentry. “He wants to be the best person. He wants to be the best student. He is the hardest worker we have in the weight room. He has the potential to be one of the best football players ever to come out of this program.”

The Rebels’ vaunted running attack features the return of the Columbine’s Triple-H attack. The trio of Tanner Hollens, Adam Harrington and Braeden Hogan are all back for their senior season.

Columbine jumps into its 2019 schedule on the road against Denver East on Aug. 30 at All-City Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“Nothing is given. We still have to fight for our positions,” Harrington said of Columbine’s Triple-H running back trio. “I do think those guys back we have a great talent pool.”

Hollens, Harrington and Hogan combined for 334 carries, 2,605 yards and 36 touchdowns on the ground last season.

“It’s a pretty special group of kids,” Lowry said of his tailback core. “They are fun kids and smart football players. All three of them will be going both ways for us. Those guys are going to have a little more on their plate.”

Lowry does have to replace two-year starting quarterback Logan DeArment. That won’t be an easy task. DeArment also played defensive back and was heavily involved with the Rebels’ kicking game.

“Logan (DeArment) was probably one of the top-3 quarterbacks we’ve ever had in our program,” said Lowry, who has guided the Rebels to five 5A state championships — 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2011 — for the last two decades.

Senior Jadon Holliday will get his chance to be the Rebels’ signal-caller behind center. Holliday did get some playing time last season in six games.

Columbine senior Jadon Holliday throws a pass during the Rebels' practice Aug. 17. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“Jadon, No. 1 just loves Columbine football, he has been dreaming about playing in this position his entire life,” Lowry said. “He is going to execute everything really, really well.”

Defensively, senior linemen Justin Lohrenz and Andrew Lauritzen provide a formidable one-two punch up front. Senior Luke Folsom returns as a first-team all-conference linebacker and senior cornerback Mikey Sanchez was an honorable mention selection last season.

“Defensively, I think it’s going to be the same as years before,” Lohrenz said. “We are going to be physical, play our gaps and do what the coaches say. We expect the same no matter what.”

One thing Columbine would like different this season is its ending. The past two seasons, the Rebels have a 23-3 record. However, back-to-back state semifinals losses over that span has been tough.

Columbine lost in overtime to Eaglecrest in 2017 and was edged by Cherry Creek last season at Jeffco Stadium. The Rebels’ two semifinal losses were by a combined four points.

“I see that Cherry Creek game as a huge motivator for us. It’s something in the weight room you think about while you are doing extra reps. It’s in the back of your head,” Gentry said. “We are tired of losing the close ones. Hopefully that is a motivation for us this year to push through.”

Columbine opens its season on the road against Denver East on Aug. 30 at All-City Stadium. The Rebels’ home opener isn’t until Sept. 13 at Jeffco Stadium against Fountain-Fort Carson.

“I’m hyped about this year,” Lohrenz said. “I’m excited to see who steps up and what teams are going to be the teams to beat this year. I’m just excited to get out on that field and play my senior year.”

The Rebels begin play in the 5A Metro West at Mullen on Oct. 4.

“It’s a grind. It’s a battle,” Lowry said of the 5A Metro West League that features the likes of Pomona, Ralston Valley, Arvada West, Lakewood, Mullen and Columbine. “Our league is one of the top leagues in the state. We just have to stay healthy, execute and play our best.”

Columbine senior running back Braeden Hogan, far right, looks for running room during an intra-squad scrimmage. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)