Preseason Favorite: ThunderRidge
The Continental is potentially the toughest division from top to bottom in the state of Colorado with every team showing the potential to make a playoff run. The early favorite and one of Colorado’s best programs is ThunderRidge. Offensively, the Grizzlies return one of the state’s most complete set of players. Quarterback Brody Westmoreland posted over 2,400 yards of total offense during an 11-2 junior season and should improve on those numbers. Steve Ray, who rushed for over 1,600 yards last season returns as does versatile receiver Mark Hopper. All of this offense stems from an offensive line anchored by maulers Sam Jones and Brandon Chase. The Grizzly defense, which at times gave up too many points, has to improve if the Grizzlies want to contend for a conference and state title.
Contender: Mountain Vista
On paper Mountain Vista has the players to contend for a conference crown. If new quarterback Brock Rubley matures quickly Mountain Vista could make some noise. Easing Rubley’s transition is receiver Rocco Palumbo as well as newcomer Brendan Ike. Both Palumbo and Ike create matchup programs due to their 6-2 plus size. Running back Tanner Smith banged away for over 1,200 yards last season and can move the chains and create play action situations for Rubley and the big receivers.
The defense sees the return of Tyler Spond and Austin Hayes. Multiple players go both ways and that could create issues at the end of the season.
Sleeper: Douglas County
Douglas County has 34 returning seniors none more important than the five offensive linemen led by Jamin Smith. Colorado State bound running back Trey Smith. Smith, one of the state’s fastest players rushed for over 1,700 yards last season and should create opportunities for junior quarterback Rope Ruel to make passes with play action.
On defense, linebackers Zach Barlow and Kyle Newsome return. On the defensive line Devin Jackson and Tamatea Bartlett are key.
Best of the Rest:
Multiple coaches from around the league predict Regis will rebound from a disappointing 2012 season and they may be right. Full seasons from senior running back Jalen Williams and senior defensive end Terran Hasselbach will help the cause. The most consistent returner is linebacker Quinn Vandakoppel, one of Colorado’s leaders in tackles last year. Fellow senior linebacker Joseph Bozeman was all over the field last year making plays.
Chaparral lost most of its offensive cogs with quarterback Max Kuhns, tight end Mitch Parsons and running back Zac Guy all gone. The defense, which returns multiple top players, is the key to Wolverine success. On the D, Chap returns a talented crew of backers with giant R.J. Martin and playmaker Keenan Foshe. Diminutive Dustin and Dallas Dobbs return in the defensive backfield.
Highlands Ranch is coming off a tough 2012 campaign that saw them win two games. If their record is to improve quarterback Keaton Thames and running back Jalen Kittrell, both seniors, must have strong seasons.
Defensively, linebacker Joe Quatrochi has the ability to make plays and
is supported by fellow senior linebackers Zach Buxo and Michael Robinson.
Offensive Player of the Year: Trey Smith RB Douglas
Defensive Player of the Year: Quinn Vandekoppel LB Regis