With the departure of numerous players such as Anthony Perkins, Zach Donaldson, Markus Felker and Matt Yemm, the Front Range does not have the name recognition it had last year, but a new crop of players are ready to perform in a league wide open for the taking
Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year:
Offensive Player: Alex Kelly QB Rocky Mountain
Defensive Player: Nick Kasa DE Legacy
Favorite: Fort Collins
The Lambkins lost a ton from the 12-1 squad that was undefeated in the league last year and went to the state semifinals. Gone are All-League caliber players such as QB Matt Yemm, DB/RB Zach Donaldson and RB Garrett Houts. Although the Lambkins lost so much talent they did gain playoff experience and the hunger to win. These two ingredients, along with key defensive returnees should be enough for the Lambkins to bring home the Front Range title once again. This year will not be an undefeated coronation march like last season with numerous young teams fighting for their shot at the top. If Fort Collins is to repeat, it will be defense that the Lambkins use to hold on to their league title. Last year, Fort Collins allowed thirteen points a game. This year, the defense will be led by two All-State candidates in LB Blake West and DE Chance Crawford. Offensively, tryouts are open as only receiver Hans Broman and lineman Tanner Hedstrom return. This one should be competitive from start to finish.
By no means is Fort Collins a lock to win the Front Range and with the league up for grabs, one of the teams ready to move forward is the Legacy Lightning. Last season, a young Legacy squad went 7-3 and they look poised for a break out season. Offensively, 6-3 184 pound Luke Bublitz will call the signals as the QB. Bublitz, one of the regions top baseball players, could have a big season. Joining Bublitz on offense is young running back Jake Levin. Holding it together for the offense will be 6-3 235 pound center Dustin Jenkins. It is on defense where Legacy may excel as they return to of the leagues top defensive players. Up front, pass rush specialist Nick Kasa returns. The 6-7 235 pound junior uses his tremendous speed to disrupt any teams passing game. Joining Kasa to lead the D will be head hunting 1st Team All-League free safety Devon Martin.
A young Poudre squad struggled through a tough 2-8 season last year but should rebound this season and make a run as a league contender. Last year's youth is now one year more experienced and ready to get to the next level. The Impalas will find out early what they are made of as they open the season with 5A power Mullen. Leading the way will be quarterback Jason Haferman who threw for an impressive 1,531 yards and seventeen scores as a sophomore. Haferman will need to do even more this year with the departure of do it all running back Tanner Ehrlich. Luckily, receiver Ben Biggi is back as Haferman's go to guy. The 6-3 Biggi made twenty-five grabs and averaged nearly twenty yards a catch on the way to six scores last season. Along with Bigge, Jesse Woodman should be a solid receiver giving Poudre a one two punch. The Impalas look to put up points, so if the defense, led by returning All-League DB Jaime Fulgencio, get some stops, Poudre could cause trouble for league foes.
Around the League:
Even with the departure of top wide receiver Andy Burns, who will now focus on his budding baseball career, Rocky Mountain QB Alex Kelly is ready to have a strong season and should be one of the top offensive players in the league. Another QB ready to cap their high school career with a big season is Steve Castiglione of Horizon. In the trenches, defensive linemen Chase McClure of Northglenn and Zach Farley of Horizon are two of the best in the league.