Football postseason preview: 5A, 4A and 3A first round games

CSU-Pueblo ThunderBowl Stadium

(Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com)

The state football playoffs are underway this week. Each bracket consists of eight teams with quarterfinals taking place this week before semifinals are played next week, ahead of the state championship games, all of which will be played at Colorado State University Pueblo.

With four games in all seven classifications, here is a breakdown of this week's big-school matchups:

Class 5A

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(8) Regis Jesuit at (1) Cherry Creek

Cherry Creek Arapahoe football

(Theodore Stark/tstark.com)

Date and time: Nov. 20, 4 p.m.

Breakdown: There has been no slowing down for Cherry Creek (6-0) since the Bruins claimed the 5A title last December. They haven't been shy about putting up points and have only surrendered 28 total points all year. Quarterback Julian Hammond has thrown for 1,027 yards and 17 touchdowns while James Walker II has rushed for 566 yards and four touchdowns.

Regis Jesuit (5-1) has put together some impressive wins this season but fell to Legend, the only playoff team on its schedule. The Raiders have been paced all year by senior running back David Dody. Through the course of the season, he has rushed for 514 yards and nine touchdowns.

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(5) Eaglecrest at (4) Pomona

(Lance Wendt/CHSAANow.com)

Date and time: Nov. 20, 5 p.m.

Breakdown: As has been tradition in recent years, Pomona (6-0) has taken care of business this season. The Panthers won a key battle with Columbine to end the regular season and officially punch their ticket to the postseason. A big reason for that is Jack Pospisil. The senior has rushed for 593 yards and 10 touchdowns this year.

A Week 1 shootout made a lot of people pay attention to Eaglecrest's (4-1) offensive potential. The Raptors got solid games from JP Luketu (547 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns) and anything can happen when quarterback Khalil Howard finds wide receiver Ty Robinson.

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(7) Cherokee Trail at (2) Valor Christian

Valor Christian Ralston Valley football

(Kevin McNearny)

Date and time: Nov. 19, 6 p.m.

Breakdown: Under first-year head coach Donnie Yantis, Valor Christian (5-0) is looking to return to the state title game for the first time in two years. To get there, they'll rely on Gavin Sawchuk, who has rushed for 993 yards and 16 touchdowns.

After dropping the first two games of the year, Cherokee Trail (4-2) battled its way into the 5A field. Quarterback Jayden Lavigne has been a big reason for those four straight wins as he's totaled 1,287 passing yards and 13 touchdowns.

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(6) Fairview at (3) Legend

Legend Pine Creek football

(Kevin Keyser/KeyserImages.com)

Date and time: Nov. 21, 2:30 p.m.

Breakdown: In the first four games of the season, Legend surrendered just seven total points to its opponents. The Titans are looking strong heading into the postseason thanks in large part to the running game of Connor Eise (798 yards, eight touchdowns) and the complementary passing attack of Kalen Shoemaker (890 yards, 14 touchdowns).

After finding its footing through the first two games of the year, Fairview found its rhythm offensively. The Knights scored at least 42 points in each of their last four games of the year. Liam O'Brien threw for a staggering 310 yards per game and 18 total scores to just one interception.

Class 4A

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(8) Montrose at (1) Dakota Ridge

Dakota Ridge Chatfield football

(David Harvey/ImageProPhotography.com)

Date and time: Nov. 21, 3 p.m.

Breakdown: Dakota Ridge (6-0) meant business from the second the first whistle blew to start the season. The Eagles outscored their first three opponents 155-26 and haven't looked back since. Ben Gultig is completing 69 percent of his passes and has totaled 920 yards and 14 touchdowns.

A tough schedule put Montrose (4-2) right on the bubble, but they'll have a chance to pull off a major shocker on Saturday. The team showed it can play with the best in 4A after leading Palmer Ridge at halftime of their game back on Oct. 30.

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(5) Broomfield at (4) Loveland

(Brad Cochi)

Date and time: Nov. 20, 6:30 p.m.

Breakdown: A hard fought victory over Skyline last week kept Loveland (6-0) undefeated on the year and more importantly, battle tested heading into the postseason. Zack Rakowsky leads Loveland with 860 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.

After getting to last year's state title game, Broomfield (5-0) has every intention of making a return trip. Sophomore Cole Lacrue has shown poise at the quarterback position while throwing for 841 yards and nine touchdowns. As a team, the Eagles have forced a staggering 16 takeaways.

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(7) Pine Creek at (2) Palmer Ridge

(Chris Fehrm/Chris Fehrm Photography)

Date and time: Nov. 21, 1 p.m.

Breakdown: Arguably the most anticipated matchup of the week sees two teams who both claimed state titles last year. Palmer Ridge (4-0) won the 3A title while Pine Creek enters the postseason as the defending 4A champ. Luke McAllister has paced the Bears offensively with 1,070 passing yards and 16 touchdowns.

Playing a full 5A schedule should make Pine Creek (2-2) battle tested heading into the tournament. Beau Freyler and Zion Hill have rushed for a combined 555 yards and four touchdowns this year.

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(6) Fountain-Fort Carson at (3) Ponderosa

Ponderosa Montrose football

(PaulDiSalvoPhotography.com)

Date and time: Nov. 21, 10:30 a.m.

Breakdown: A strong showing in the regular season saw Ponderosa (6-0) go undefeated. That included a thrilling last-minute win over Montrose on Nov. 6. Quarterback Jack Hanenburg has shown strong leadership all year as well as solid play. He has thrown for 1,078 yards and 11 touchdowns this year.

Fountain-Fort Carson (5-1) got rare regular season retribution to end the year by knocking off Rampart, the very team that handed FFC its lone loss of the season just a week earlier. Q. Jones is in the conversation for 4A player of the year as he averages over 232 rushing yards per game and has scored 16 rushing touchdowns this season.

Class 3A

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(8) Fort Morgan at (1) Roosevelt

Roosevelt Northridge football

(Barry Smith)

Date and time: Nov. 21, 1 p.m.

Breakdown: Since beating Mead 21-20 in overtime on Oct. 16, Roosevelt (5-0) has been the clear No. 1 in the 3A field. Brig Hartson is the catalyst of the team's offense as he's thrown for 838 yards and 13 touchdowns while also rushing for 204 yards and two scores.

With just one loss in the regular season, Fort Morgan (4-1) is looking to pull off a major upset in the quarterfinals. Briggs Wheatley has thrown for 563 yards and rushed for 417 and will need to pace the Mustangs in their bid to shake up the 3A field.

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(5) Mead at (4) Pueblo South

Pueblo South Canon City football

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

Date and time: N/A

Breakdown: COVID-19 concerns prompted Mead (5-2) to withdraw from the game. Pueblo South (5-0) wins via forfeit and advances to the semifinals.

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(7) Evergreen at (2) Holy Family

Holy Family Pueblo Centennial football

(Lance Wendt/wendt5280.com)

Date and time: Nov. 20, 6 p.m.

Breakdown: If there is one thing Holy Family (6-0) likes to do, it's score points. The Tigers cross the 30-point mark in all but one of their games this season. Michael White and Trevin Johnson give the offense a bit of balance as White has thrown for 903 yards while Johnson has rushed for 786.

Losses to Palisade and Durango got Evergreen (4-2) off to a 2-2 start, but the Cougars finished strong to earn a postseason berth. They'll have to rely on Noah Martens (871 rushing yards, three touchdowns) to control the time of possession and keep Holy Family off the field.

• • •

(6) Lutheran at (3) Durango

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

Date and time: Nov. 21, 1 p.m.

Breakdown: An undefeated regular season has given Durango (5-0) confidence that it can claim its first state football title since 1954. Jordan Woolverton has a cool command of the Demons offense, throwing for 629 yards and six touchdowns while adding five rushing touchdowns.

The lone loss of the year for Lutheran (4-1) came in the regular season finale against Holy Family. The Lions are hoping that a steady passing attack from Clayton Jacobs (1,082 yards, 13 touchdowns) will be too much for Durango to hang with.