Football playoff preview: Class 5A, 4A and 3A semifinals

CSU-Pueblo ThunderBowl Stadium

(Ryan Casey/

After a thrilling week of Colorado playoff football games, teams roll into semifinals this weekend. With upsets in nearly every big-school classification, intriguing matchups have been set as teams prepare to earn a chance to get to the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl in Pueblo to compete for state football championships.

Here is a look at the semifinal games for the big-school games this weekend.

Class 5A

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(4) Pomona at (1) Cherry Creek

(Theodore Stark/

Date and time: Nov. 28, 1 p.m.

Breakdown: Two coaches very familiar with each other will face off once again as they each look to claim another state title. Dave Logan led Cherry Creek to the 5A crown last year and has a team loaded with talent once again in 2020.

Quarterback Julian Hammond has thrown for over 1,000 yards and 17 touchdowns and he also has the experience of leading the Bruins (7-0) to a state title. Cherry Creek won their quarterfinal game over Regis Jesuit 29-6 thanks to big plays from James Walker and Myles Purchase.

Pomona fell behind early in its quarterfinal game against Eaglecrest but behind Ian Dexter's 101 rushing yards and the team's six total rushing touchdowns, the Panthers grabbed a 49-14 win to advance.

Cherry Creek beat Pomona 12-7 in last year's semifinals and the Panthers certainly wouldn't mind evening the score this weekend.

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(3) Legend at (2) Valor Christian

Paul Shepardson / Paul Shepardson Photography

Date and time: Nov. 28, 1 p.m.

Breakdown: Without Gavin Sawchuk, it seemed like Valor Christian's game against Cherokee Trail was going to get a whole lot tougher. But Zach Wiley had other plans.

The backup ran for four first-half touchdowns to help the Eagles (6-0) to a 49-14 win over the Cougars. A few of those touchdowns were set up by brilliant completions from Sean McNair to Tyler Larson.

Valor is looking to get back to the state title game after getting beaten in the state quarterfinals a year ago.

Speaking of backup running backs, no one had a better weekend than Legend's Bryce Vaz.

The junior broke out for 310 yards and six touchdowns as the Titans (7-0) beat Fairview 56-35 to advance to the state semifinals for the first time in the program's history. Vaz spent his freshman year at Valor and is looking forward to displaying his ability against his former school.

Class 4A

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(4) Loveland at (1) Dakota Ridge

(Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Date and time: Nov. 28, 1 p.m.

Breakdown: Dakota Ridge wasn't messing around when the postseason got underway as it scored 10 offensive touchdowns to beat Montrose 76-34 in the quarterfinals.

Ben Gultig ran for 101 yards and a touchdown and Noah Triplett accounted for three of the Eagles' seven total rushing touchdowns on the day.

Loveland's trip to the semifinals came thanks in part to a major boost on the defensive side of the ball.

Joe Killian's pick-six was came at a crucial time and led the team to a 28-7 win over Broomfield, the 2019 4A runner-up. Zack Rakowsky had a banner day running the ball, amassing 183 yards and two touchdowns.

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(2) Palmer Ridge at (6) Fountain-Fort Carson

(Paul Shepardson / Paul Shepardson Photography)

Date and time: Nov. 28, 1 p.m.

Breakdown: Palmer Ridge is in search of its fourth straight state title and its first in 4A. The Bears (5-0) looked strong in their 32-7 win over Pine Creek in the quarterfinals.

Luke McAllister threw for 367 yards and five touchdowns, four of which landed in the hands of Marcellus Reed.

The Palmer Ridge passing attack will be countered by one of the best running backs in the state.

Q. Jones put his talent on a full display in the Trojans (6-1) 41-38 win over Ponderosa last week. Jones ran for 332 yards and three touchdowns in the win.

Palmer Ridge is on the road because of a rule in 4A through 6-man which allows teams with fewer postseason home games to host.

Class 3A

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(4) Pueblo South at (1) Roosevelt

(Barry Smith)

Date and time: Nov. 28, 1 p.m.

Breakdown: Roosevelt was nearly the victim of a major upset at the hands of Fort Morgan in the quarterfinals.

A last-second field goal from Brecken Sawyer gave the Roughriders (6-0) the win and moved them on to the semis. Cooper Walton was also crucial to the win as he punched in two rushing touchdowns.

Pueblo South advanced to the semifinals due to Mead forfeiting their game last week because of COVID-19 issues.

The Colts (5-0) have looked strong all year as George Longoria has rushed for 816 yards and 12 touchdowns in just four games. South beat Vista Ridge 35-28 in its most recent game.

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(3) Durango at (2) Holy Family

Holy Family Pueblo Centennial football

(Lance Wendt/

Date and time: Nov. 28, 12 p.m.

Breakdown: Holy Family made a big statement in its playoff opening win against Evergreen. The Tigers (7-0) maintained a balanced offensive attack as Michael White threw for 242 yards and four touchdowns.

Oscar Sena caught five passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns and the team overall rushed for 133 yards and a pair of scores.

Durango's banner season continued as the Demons beat Lutheran 47-6 in the 3A quarterfinals.

Jordan Woolverton threw for 154 yards and three touchdowns while Ben Finneseth ran for 130 yards and scored two touchdowns.