There are no games off in the Continental, a conference that may be, from top to bottom, the toughest conference in 5A. Each team in the conference has the potential to make a run for the title and every game will be a battle.
In a short time Mark Nolan has reestablished the Raiders as a top program in Colorado as evidenced by last season’s 5A finals appearance. This season, Nolan will use the backfield combination of QB Eystin Salum and RB Jordan Jungers to drive the offense. The hard nosed Jungers should get plenty of yards and help the Raiders control game tempo running behind veteran linemen Mike Cruciotti, Pat Talley and Kyle Sarazin.
Defensively, Regis lost numerous top performers and will need players to step up if they want to keep a handle on the talented skill players around the conference. Safety Eric Heringer, a top play maker on D, had four picks last season, while Dylan Barnes needs to step up a backer to replace Mike O’ Dwyer. Look for Jake Jarman and John Crowley to have strong seasons.
Parker Chaparral has become a program that reloads rather than rebuilds and this season could once again see the Wolverines competing for the top of the Conference. Speed and skill abound on the offense as running back Chris Page returns to work with speedster Gavin McHenry and smooth operator Andrew McReynolds getting carries and catches. New quarterback Matt Kuhns, a 6-2 185 pounder, has a strong skill set but as a new starter will need time to settle in. In the past Chap QBs have enjoyed the security blanket provided by linemen such as Jack Harris and Brendon Austin. This year’s nationally recruited Wolverine is massive tackle Shane Callahan. As good as the Auburn bound Callahan is he can’t do it all as new linemen learn their positions and adjust to varsity play.
On defense Cole Alderson leads from his backer position while McHenry and McReynolds comprise the best pair of corners in Colorado. The play of a refurbished defensive line could be a key for the Chaparral defense. If the pieces come together on both side of the ball, Chaparral could have another strong season.
Sleeper: Highlands Ranch
Highlands Ranch boasts what could be the most versatile performer in Colorado with 2012 WR/RB Joe Hansley. Last season Hansley averaged 10 yards a carry and over 15 yards a catch. Distributing to Hansley will be quarterback Steve Donatell. The 6-5 Donatell is excited about his options in regard to skill players. Along with Hansley, Donatell will have the opportunity to work with 6-5 receiver Connor McFadden. Helping to keep these players safe is 6-5 270 pound 2012 tackle Ed Caldwell.
Defensive back Adam Goth heads the defense with the support of linebacker Richard Mbuga.
Best of the Rest:
Douglas County has had an uncharacteristically rough run of late, but Head Coach Jeff Ketron and crew work too hard to let that trend continue. Helping overcome last season’s one win campaign will be senior QB Aaron Rosipajla and senior RB Kia Perea. On defense the Huskies were solid allowing just 17 points a game so if Rospajla and Perea can but up points DC may be back.
Mountain Vista sits in the enviable position of returning seven starters on offense and seven on defense. Leading the way is All-State defensive lineman Clay Norgard. The versatile defender, who can line up in multiple spots as needed, is not alone on a defense that returns strong players at each level. Joining Norgard on the defensive line is 220 pound Dan Otsuki. At linebacker, Nate Moilanen and Conor Hulett return while Zac Cash and Joey Hammer will roam the defensive backfield.
Offensively, running back Christian Thomas is one of the best in the league.
The ThuderRidge Grizzlies will play their characteristic tough D with a strong set of linebackers that Includes James Cecil and Travis Holder. If a flexible set of offensive skill players that includes H-back Zach Jones, quarterback Brody Westmoreland and athlete John Tapp can get in the endzone T-Ridge will threaten.