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5A football teams get down to league business

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It is now crunch time for Class 5A football teams who have completed non-league schedules and jumped into league play last weekend.

The names of the leagues are confusing because of the realignment every two years, but it is clear that there will be some upcoming important league games.

There is no way that I am going to get into predictions but rather offer some observations.

Valor Christian, which has won five of the past seven state titles in 5A and eight overall state titles covering all classes, has to be considered the favorite in the 5A Metro South League.

After the non-league schedule, the Eagles were averaging 389 yards of total offense sparked by league rushing leader Gavin Sawchuk, and had forced 11 takeaways with 12 quarterback sacks.

Castle View, off to a 4-1 non-league start, opened the league season with a game against Valor on Oct. 4.

Valor has a combined overall record of 19-0 against the other five teams in 5A Metro South League.

Winless Highlands Ranch was one team looking forward to the league campaign after a tough non-league schedule with games against elite teams Eaglecrest, Grandview, Regis Jesuit, Columbine and Pomona.

Legend and Regis were both undefeated with 5-0 records heading into 5A South play but there was one big difference.

Regis is used to being a high-profile team, while Legend is enjoying its best start in school history and treading into new territory.

The Raiders had the league’s passing leader in quarterback Nico Marchiol, who has helped raise the team’s total offense to 400.2 yards per game heading into the first week of the league schedule. Legend was averaging 386.8 yards per game with the league’s leading rusher in Blake Rarog.

A showdown between Regis and Legend is set for Oct. 11 at Echo Park Automotive Stadium and could decide the league title.

The 5A Metro East League is loaded with good teams as the six schools combined for a 26-4 non-league record.

Cherry Creek, Grandview and Eaglecrest were all 5-0 when league play opened. This is an understatement, but there will be plenty of key games on the schedule in the next few weeks.

Grandview opened the 5A Metro East league campaign with a 14-11 win over Eaglecrest on Oct. 3, and Creek ends the regular season with games against Eaglecrest, Cherokee Trail and Grandview.

Columbine and Ralston Valley were unbeaten heading into the 5A Metro West league play, but this is also a tough league and is hard to select a favorite with Lakewood and Pomona the other top teams.

Columbine, No. 1 in the Sept. 30 CHSAA.com poll, and Ralston Valley, ranked fifth, are explosive teams. The Rebels, before last weekend’s game, were averaging 293.4 yards rushing, 384.6 yards total offense and scoring 43 points a game. Ralston Valley was passing for 238.2 yards each contest with 392.8 yards of total offense and scoring at a 43.2 clip.

Both teams, however, should watch out for Pomona, which has won one 5A state championship and two runner-up state trophies, in the past five seasons.

Honor roll

Each week, performances of South Metro athletes and teams will be highlighted. This week’s performances were selected from games, matches and meets between Sept. 27 and Oct. 3.

Merich Stenberg had an interception with less than two minutes remaining to end a Castle View drive and preserve a 34-27 football win for Legend in a Sept. 27 game. Junior Connor Eise rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns for the Titans.

Chris Cornn scored twice and had two assists for six points and the Ponderosa senior helped the Mustangs notch a 5-1 soccer win over Douglas County on Oct. 1.

Senior Brandon Belgrave averaged 13.2 yards a carry as he gained 119 yards and scored three TDs in Lutheran’s 40-7 football victory over Falcon on Sept. 27.

Katie Dack-Howell went 3-for-4 and had four runs batted in while Audrey Burt pitched three hitless innings of relief to earn the save as the Rock Canyon softball team downed Castle View, 12-3, on Oct. 2.

ThunderRidge senior Brent Huber passed for 152 yards and one TD and he ran for 147 yards and a score in the Grizzlies’ 24-7 win over Doherty on Sept. 26.

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.

Jim Benton

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