Over the past two seasons Ralston Valley has gone 21-4 and there is little reason to believe that will change. Despite the loss of All-State players Dan Skipper and Jakob Buys the Mustangs will just reload and go. Key to the continued momentum is senior QB Jacob Knipp who passed for over 2,500 yards with 28 scores last season. Look for junior Andrew Wingard to become the primary run option for a Ralston Valley squad that spreads the wealth between runners. The greatest losses are felt on a defense that allowed fewer than 14 points a game last year. Defensive backs Jon Bauman and Kevin Meadows return to guide the D as it matures.
I never bet against Pomona! Physical play on both sides of the ball and great coaching are hard to beat. Further, a giant and experienced offensive line anchored by Kendall Ryan,Dillon Middlemiss and Zach Stefo will allow new starting QB, junior Justin Roberts time to learn the position. Electric runner Chris Marquez, who rushed for over 1,100 yards as junior, is a big play waiting to happen. Hunter Hogoboom is the top returning receiver for the Panthers with 30 catches during his junior season. Defensively Stephen Trujillo and defensive tackle Daniel Chavez anchor a solid front. Augmenting the offense are the short fields supplied by Marquez, a scary return man on punts and kicks.
Whatever happens, Fairview 5-5 last season, will be fun to watch this season. Quarterback Anders Hill is an underrated prospect and with receiver Sam Martin is part of the state’s scariest passing combo. Along with Martin, who had 76 catches last year, senior receivers Cameron Frazier and Owen Harris are back. Last season Fairview had little ground game to speak of so it will be interesting to see if long time Knight’s coach Tom McCartney throttles down the jet for a run or two.
Fairview gave up over 31 points a game last year and if they want to contend beyond the conference level they need to improve in this area. The talent is there with defensive back Jonathan Swartzwelter,one of the states’s best, leading the way. Sophomore defensive end Carlo Kemp showed the ability to get after opposing QBs last season as a freshman. Linebacker Daniel Hoskins is stout againstthe run.
Best of the Rest:
It would be good to see the Legacy Lightning back in contention highlighted by a solid group of seniors. The strength could be the offensive and defensive lines where Chandler Medina, Andrew LaGuardia and Angelo Chavez return. Currently penciled in at QB is Matt Lynch who is supported by receivers Mikey Straface and Drew Hebel as well as H-back Patrick Matthews. Senior linebacker Nick Weaver leads the D.
The Arvada West Wildcats return enough talent to compete in the North Metro. Returning quarterback Allen Martin posted over 1,600 yards of offense last season.Also returning for their senior campaign are ball carriers Claude Neloms and Jackson Mitchell. Athlete Marcus Culhane is the top returning receiver and a difference maker on defense. Active defense tackle Keenan Leary, a 6-0 270pound senior, anchors up front.
Maybe the addition of former college Head Coach Bob Simmons can bring stability to the Boulder football program. In the past the Panthers have had athletes but few victories to show for it. The key returnee it River Addison. The linebacker/receiver is one of the conference’s most versatile players.
Offensive Player of the Year: Jacob Knipp QB Ralston Valley
Defensive Player of the Year: Jonathan Swartzwelter DB Fairview