2014 Football teams at a glance

Jim Benton
Arapahoe High players prepare Aug. 25 for the Warriors' season-opening game Aug. 29 against Legend at Parker's Sports Authority Field.
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Arapahoe

Coach: Mike Campbell

2013 Recap: The Warriors were 3-2 in the Super 6 conference and 6-4 overall.

Top Returning Players: Anthony Ferrie, DL, 6-0, 220, Sr.; Charlie Leonard, LB, 5-10, 190, Jr.; Daylon Stutz, OT, 6-3, 205, Sr.; Nick Thompson, DB, 6-1, 180, Jr.; Taden Jones, CB, 5-8, 145, Sr.; Nick Salas, OL, 5-11, 200, Sr.

2014 Outlook: Six All-Conference players return to form the nucleus of an Arapahoe team that could contend for the South Metro Conference title.

Castle View

Coach: Ryan Hollingshead

2013 Recap: In their second year as a 5A team, the Sabercats made the state playoffs for the fifth year in a row but lost to ThunderRidge. Castle View had eight seniors playing both ways but finished 3-3 in the league and 4-6 overall.

Top Returning Players: Parker Strahler, WR, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Zach Broussley, OL/DL, 6-3, 225, Sr.; Reilly Miller, LB, 6-1, 205, Sr.; Erik Taylor, RB, 5-9, 175, Sr.; Blake Wessbecker, FS, 6-3, 180, Sr.; Chris Linnin, QB, 6-4, 200, Sr.

2014 Outlook: This is the fastest, most athletic Castle View football team ever. The team will have big play ability given its offensive skillset and the returning defensive backfield. Broussley is the only returning lineman but transfer Ryan Hardin and some talented underclassmen will help. "Castle View has as good a chance as anyone to win the Continental League South," said Hollingshead.

Chaparral

Coach: Rob Dobbs

2013 Recap: The Wolverines were 2-3 in the Continental League and 4-6 overall.

Top Returning Players: Brandon Leahey, OL, 6-3, 285, Sr.; Mitch Ross, RB/FB/TE, 6-0, 200, Sr.; Patrick Moody, LB, 6-1, 203, Soph.

2014 Outlook: Injuries hampered the Wolverines chances for a winning season a year ago but Dobbs, who had been an assistant coach with the program, is hoping that a healthy team plus solid underclassmen will restore Chap's winning ways in his first campaign as head coach.

Cherry Creek

Coach: Dave Logan

2013 Recap: The Bruins won the Centennial League with a 5-0 record. Cherry Creek was 10-2 overall but lost to league-rival Cherokee Trail in the Class 5A quarterfinals.

Top Returning Players: Milo Hall, RB, 5-8, 185, Sr.; Zach Grado, LB, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Joseph Parker, WR, 5-10, 180, Sr.; DJ Luke, RB, 5-11, 220, Sr.; Ty Carter, WR/DB, 5-11, 170, Sr.; Mike Morean, S, 6-2, 185, Sr.; Jonathan VanDiest, DL, 6-2, 210, Soph.; Santino Marchiol, LB, 6-2, 218, Soph.; David Imola, OL/DL, 6-3, 252, Jr. 

2014 Outlook: Creek, the No. 2 team in the CHSAANow.Com Class 5A preseason rankings, has a strenuous schedule that includes Centennial League encounters plus non-league games against Regis Jesuit, Pomona, Jordan (Utah) and Grand Terrace (Calif.) "The summer workouts have been good, the kids have really invested and they are committed to hard work which is the basis for any kind of success," said Logan. "We'll see. What you worry about when you play this kind of competition every single week is your depth, you worry about your injuries."

Douglas County

Coach: Gene Hill

2013 Recap: The Huskies were 3-2 in the Continental League, 7-4 overall and won a first round Class 5A State playoff game.

Top Returning Players: Rope Ruel, QB, 6-0, 180, Sr.; JP Rubino, RB, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Kyle Newsome, FB/LB, 6-0, 210, Sr.; Westin Joslyn, OL/LB, 6-1, 220, Sr.; Dylan Sundeen, DL/TE, 6-2, 235, Sr.; Tomatea Bartlett, DL, 6-3, 190, Sr.; Connor Loveland, WR, 5-10, 160, Sr.; Mitchell Staples, WR, 6-1, 170, Jr.; Christian Gonzalez, OL, 5-10, 250, Sr.

2014 Outlook: Seven starters return, four on defense and three on offense. "Though that looks thin we really have a lot of kids who have experience coming back," said Hill, a former assistant who assumed the head coaching duties from Jeff Ketron. "The biggest thing we need to find out is how these guys are going to react moving into starting roles."

Heritage

Coach: Tyler Knoblock

2013 Recap: The Eagles were 4-2 in the Pioneer League and 5-5 overall.

Top Returning Players: Frank Umu, OL/DL, 6-5, 275, Sr.; Alex Motler, LB, 6-0, 170, Jr.; Dalton Thorpe, WR, 6-3, 230, Jr.; Anthony Gray, LB, 6-2, 200, Jr.

2014 Outlook: The Eagles will be transitioning to a new head coach and staff. The potential is there to develop a team that has to be reckoned with. They traveled to Florida for an Aug. 22 Zero Week game against Florida powerhouse Boynton Beach at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex. The Florida school came out on top, 48-21.

Highlands Ranch

Coach: Mark Robinson

2013 Recap: The Falcons were 0-5 in the Continental League and 2-8 overall. Highlands Ranch has won only four games in the past two seasons after six consecutive winning seasons.

Top Returning Players: Alex Keys, C, 6-0, 285; Connor Helbling, LB, 5-10, 210, Sr.; Killian Moran, OL, 5-8, 240, Sr.; Kellon Harlow, OL, 6-1, 215, Sr.; Tanner Minch, LB, 5-11, 205, Sr.; Ben Morgan, RB/DB, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Michael Forlenza, SB/DB, 5-9, 145, Jr.; Josh Hanson, OL, 6-3, 230, Jr.

2014 Outlook: Robinson, the former Lakewood coach, has introduced black jerseys to the Falcons repertoire and hopes to rebuild the Falcons football program. Morgan, a long jump champion, has 4.5 speed and will be featured in the offense while Harlow, with 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash, will play on both sides of the ball. "Learning a new offense and defense will be a challenge," said Robinson. "Size may also be an issue. As the players buy in and learn a new system, we could be very competitive in our league this season."

Legend

Coach: Robert Doyle

2013 Recap: The Titans were 4-2 in the Pioneer League and 6-4 overall after losing to Douglas County in the first round of the Class 5A State Playoffs.

Top Returning Players: Alex Ausmus, WR, 5-9, 165, Sr.; Keagan Anderson, LB, 6-1, 190, Sr.; Austin Gilbert, LB, 6-1, 190, Sr.; Corbin Keicher, S, 5-8, 155, Sr.; Jacob Edson, OL, 6-2, 260, Sr.

2014 Outlook: Legend will be in the Continental South League this fall and will be without quarterback Peyton Remy who decided not the play football in order to concentrate on baseball. Sophomore Marc Muma is expected to be the starting quarterback. "We have a tougher schedule and we're in a tougher league," said Doyle.  "We're going to be OK. We're going to have to come together as a team and really fight to win games whereas last year we were pretty dynamic on offense and scored a lot of points. This year we are going to have to grind things out."

Littleton

Coach: Kurt Krantz

2013 Recap: The Lions were 1-4 in the Class 4A Plains league and 4-6 overall.

Top Returning Players: Joey Drennan, WB, 6-3, 180, Sr.; Tre Blake, RB/LB, 5-7, 165, Sr.; Eric Lyons, FB, 5-10, 180, Sr.; Patrick Healy, OF/LB, 6-2, 225,Sr.; Aron Pino, OL/DL, 6-0, 225, Jr.; Michael Baker, OL/TE, 6-7, 230, Sr.; Eric Timmermeyer, TE/LB, 6-1, 200, Sr.; Noah McGhee, RB, 5-9, 150, Jr.

2014 Outlook: Littleton's four wins last year almost matched the five wins total in the previous three seasons. "Our numbers are up and our freshman numbers are way up," said Krantz. "We're hoping to just continue to improve." Littleton got on track to do just that with a 26-7 Zero Week victory over Golden on Aug. 22.

Lutheran

Coach: Blair Hubbard

2013 Recap: The Lions were 4-2 in the Metro League, 8-3 overall and lost in the first round of the Class 3A State playoffs.

Top Returning Players: James Willis, QB, 6-1, 195, Sr.; Josh Clausen, WR, 6-4, 205, Sr.; Jamil Bond, 6-0, 195, Sr.; Brendan Edgerly, LB, 6-5, 200, Sr.

2014 Outlook: Hubbard, entering his first season with the Lions, guided Faith Christian to 14 state playoff appearances in 15 seasons and won three state titles. Lutheran, the No. 1-ranked Class 3A team in CHSAANow.com preseason poll, has never previously faced any of the teams on this year's schedule. "The Lions will lean on the leadership of 13 returning seniors, many of whom were impact players from last year's squad," said Hubbard.

Mountain Vista

Coach: Ric Cash

2013 Recap: Vista was 1-4 in the Continental League and 3-7 overall.

Top Returning Players: Brock Rubley, QB, 6-3, 190, Sr.; Nick Schmalz, RB, 5-9, 205, Sr.; Brendan Ike, WR, 6-3, 195, Sr.; Matt Morris, OL, 6-0, 225, Sr.; Jake Propernick, OL, 5-10, 245, Sr.; Austin Orr, TE, 6-4, 220, Sr.; Christian Benavides, WR, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Aden Cesmat, OL, 6-2, 240, Sr.; Nick McKelvey, DE, 6-3, 235, Sr.; Preston Troxel, DT, 6-1, 245, Sr.; Luke Nelson, LB, 602m 220, Sr.; Christian Brady, 5-9, 185, Sr.; Kyle Pless, CB, 6-9, 175, Sr.; Kiel Brennen, S, 6-1, 185, Sr.; Jacob Hart, DD, 6-1, 230, Sr.

2014 Outlook: The Golden Eagles had 12 starters lose game time with injuries last season but myriad replacements got varsity experience. Vista returns seven starters on both offense and defense. "With a new offense and a year of experience with the new defense, it is an exciting time and expectations are high for a great season," said Cash. "Our strength should be team experience and skill positions on offense with returning starters at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and three offensive linemen."  

Ponderosa

Coach: Jaron Cohen

2013 Recap: The Mustangs were 5-2 in the Class 4A Pikes Peak League and 6-4 overall.

Top Returning Players: James Maxie, RB/LB, 6-1, 195, Sr.; Nick Wilson, QB, 5-11, 175, Jr.; Jack Griffin, WR/FS, 5-7, 160, Sr.; Mitch Mealhow, WR/DE, 6-2, 205, Jr.; Austin Bullock, DE, 6-2, 195, Sr.

2014 Outlook: After graduating most of the offensive and defensive starters from last year's team Ponderosa will be transitioning to a new offensive system under a new coaching staff. Wilson and sophomore Thomas McCann are battling to win the starting QB job behind a big, athletic offensive line. The Mustangs will be competing in the Plains Conference and have a rugged non-conference schedule.

"Replacing multiple starters on both sides of the ball will be challenging but we believe we have young players that are able to step up and compete at a high level in varsity competition," said Cohen. "The new staff hopes to continue the tradition of excellence that Ponderosa football is known for."

Rock Canyon

Coach: Brian Lamb

2013 Recap: The Jaguars were 1-6 in the Pioneer League and 3-7 overall.

Top Returning Players: Ryan Hommel, QB, 6-1, 190, Sr.; Jack Lamb, WR, 6-4, 185, Sr.; Justin Hunter, OL, 6-5, 225, Sr.; Trevor Howard, RB, 5-11, 185, Jr.; Dalton Lawrence, OL, 6-4, 260, Jr.

2014 Outlook: With only two starters returning, the defense has to be rebuilt after heavy graduation losses. However, Hommel and seven other starters return on offense. The Jaguars hope to continue the momentum built after a season-ending win over Northglenn. "We will need to find our defensive identity fast to compete in the challenging Continental League North," said Lamb. "We have made great strides in the offseason and we should be more a competitive team this year. I look forward to watching this team develop over the season, and hopefully, through hard work and dedication, we can make the playoffs this year."

ThunderRidge

Coach: Joe Johnson

2013 Recap: The Grizzlies were 4-1 in the Continental League, 11-2 overall and lost in the Class 5A semifinals.

Top Returning Players: Matt Stanley, LB/FB, 6-1, 215, Sr.; Jonah Holden, OG/OC, 6-1, 235, Sr.; Ben Murray, OT, 6-3, 255, Sr.; Clay Johnson, LB, 6-0, 185, Sr.

2014 Outlook: ThunderRidge has won 30 games over the past three seasons and despite the loss of key personnel could play a role in the hunt for the Continental North title. For the first time in three seasons, Brody Westmoreland will not be at quarterback for ThunderRidge. He graduated along with the Grizzlies' leading receiver, leading rusher, three outstanding offensive linemen and the team's leading tackler. "We will be very inexperienced in key spots," admitted Johnson.

Valor Christian

Coach: Rod Sherman

2013 Recap: The Eagles won their fifth consecutive state championship and second in the Class 5A ranks. Valor was 13-1 with its only loss coming to a team from Bingham, Utah that was also last season's state champion.

Top Returning Players: Eric Lee Jr., DB/TB, 6-0, 190 Sr.; Dylan McCaffrey, S/QB, 6-4, 190, Soph.; Brian Dawkins Jr., DB, 5-8, 170, Sr.; Sid Turnbull, WR, 6-5, 215, Sr.; Brandon Biggs, DE, 6-4, 230, DE; Sebastian Sock, TE/DE, 6-5, 230, Sr.; Jordan Bostick, 6-0, 240, DL, Sr.; Stone Watson, TB, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Bubba Watkins, 6-0, 220, FB/LB, Sr.; Nate Whatmore, FB/LB, 5-10, 215, Sr.; Davis Clay, OL, 6-5, 290, Sr.; Brady Opp, OL/NG, 6-3, 260, Sr.; Dillon Reinkensmeyer, OL, 6-5, 275, Jr.; Brandon O'Donnell, WR, 5-10, 185, Sr.

2014 Outlook: Valor opened the season by topping Idaho Falls school Bonneville, 61-20, on the road on Aug. 22. They follow that with other non-league games against Pomona, Utah powerhouse Salt Lake East and Chandler (Ariz.) before beginning Centennial League play. The team will be strong again, although the offensive line may not be as dominating as in previous seasons.

"We have high expectations," said Sherman. "We have a very difficult schedule ahead of us, I'd say the most difficult we've ever had. We'll find out about ourselves. We'll hit some adversity and we'll see how we respond. We're pretty excited about our team coming together. I really, really like this team."