George Washington once again looks to be the team to beat coming out of 4A Denver ball, but the league does return some playmakers and could become interesting as teams mature and gain experience. The question that remains is; are the Washington Patriots ready to take the next step and make a playoff run? They will know by mid-season when they travel to play defending state champs Wheat Ridge and later 4A power Monarch.
Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year:
Offense: Jevon Reynolds WR South
Defense: Joe Harris LB George Washington
Last season, the only team to make playoffs from the DPL was George Washington. The Patriots were quickly bounced from the playoffs by semifinalist Ralston Valley. Now with playoff experience under their belt and returning numerous starters, the Patriots are ready to improve on their 6-5 record and attempt to move deeper into the playoffs. If this is to take place, Washington will need to toughen up against non-league foes. Last season, playing some of the best in 4A, Washington did not win a non-league game. Once again, in an attempt to prepare for playoffs, coach Steve Finesilver has his squad taking on the best 4A has to offer as the Patriots travel to Wheat Ridge, Dakota Ridge and Monarch. This season Washington could be up to the challenge. If football is won in the trenches, the Patriots are in a good position as they return fourteen linemen on both sides of the ball. Offensively Deven Griffin and Aaron Johnson will put in the work on the offensive line. This will be important as juniors Samuel Casillas and Ryan Pahos fight it out for the starting QB spot. Whichever player does not get the job should add their talents to the skill positions. Offensively, the Patriots will need to replace the yardage and touchdowns provided last year by Elzy Spruell. Look for do everything athlete Joe Harris to get more carries. In limited action last year, Harris averaged eight yards a carry. The offense should have time to find its stride as an experienced defense returns. For Washington, it all starts up front with human logjam Helios Villanueva. The 6-0 290 pound Villanueva is very quick for a big man and has the ability to not only eat up blocks but also disrupt at the line of scrimmage. Joining Villanueva on the d-line will be 6-3 215 pound Deven Griffen and 6-3 200 pound Anthony Gilliam. Washington has a very athletic group of backers and defensive backs to support the defensive line. D1 recruit and super athlete Joe Harris will once again patrol the field and should get plenty of help from fellow backer Kaleb Morey. Tyree Bishop, Kenny Henderson and Ryan Pahos will man the secondary.
The Commanders return a nice group of players in key spots. On defense, Timothy Brogdon returns to patrol the secondary. Last season Brogdon was 1st Team All-League. Joining Brogdon to form a very solid defensive backfield will be Francisco Gallegos who also brought home league honors. Offensively, Jessie Mack showed last season he has the ability to make plays. Look for Brogdon and Anthony Vera to help Mack with the offensive touches.
The Lancers have numerous players with experience running the ball including Dan Rodriguez, Maro Navarro and Pedro Reyes. If the offensive line anchored by big Eric Carasco can create some holes, Lincoln could make things interesting for league foes this season.
Around the League:
Denver South returns a great group of skill players in receivers Alexander Jiles and Jevon Reynolds along with big play specialist Terrance Mack. This trio will have to make due without last year's stand out John Hickey. This past spring, the multi-talented Hickey moved to and will play for Broomfield. In Reynolds, South has one of the top underclassmen athletes in Colorado. Along with his skills on the field, the 6-0 185 pound Reynolds scored nearly fifteen a game for the South basketball club. Keep an eye on Jose Delgado, the 6-0 260 pound Denver West defensive lineman. He is one of the best in the league.