It's down to the state semifinals in Colorado. We'll give you our picks for these games later; for now, let's take a quick look at the results and the matchups before this weekend's contests.
If ever there was a lesson in why games should be played out and not determined by a computer (we're looking at you, here, BCS) the 5A bracket is a sure sign of it. Mullen, a three-time state champ and thought to be a favorite against Pomona, is out in a one-point thriller, ending the team's impressive title run. Grand Junction, playing some of the best football of anyone in the state, felled by Lakewood. Ralston Valley, perhaps the hottest team in the state leading up to the postseason, drops a close contest to Grandview. And so only four remain. Remember that top-seeded Columbine only earned the No. 1 spot after blocking a kick late in the final regular season contest against Mullen. The games aren't always what they seem.
Up next is a thrilling showdown between Columbine and Grandview, two teams with stellar records and strong, physical teams. The winner will face the victor of Pomona and Lakewood, and let's face it — although each team has plenty of strengths, few of us were touting the battle-tested virtues of those two teams for a deep postseason run.
Let this be the official petition to move Valor Christian to Class 5A, regardless of how the rest of the 4A state tourney plays out. The Eagles have yet to give up a point in the first two playoff rounds, outscoring opponents by a 98-0 margin in the two contests. Castle View had a strong season and is a very capable team, but it's tough to line up for that one and not feel a little bit unnerved by the opposition.
On the other half of the bracket, chalk has reigned supreme. Monarch and Pine Creek enter with identical 12-0 records and exceptionally impressive defenses; each team has held its opponents to less than 100 total points this season (Monarch 94; Pine Creek 74). So it's probably not going out on a limb to expect a close, low-scoring game.
No. 16 seed Frederick, welcome to the party. Apparently it wasn't enough to knock off top-seeded Canon City; the Warriors toppled No. 8-seeded D'Evelyn. Keep in mind, this is the same team that lost its final regular season game to Windsor, 40-0. Senior Linebacker Jordan King is a quarterback's worst nightmare (11 sacks this season). Up next: that rematch with Windsor. If Frederick is for real, this will prove it. On the other side, Silver Creek will look to cool off an upstart Palisade team (No. 10 seed). Consider this my shoutout to quarterback Austin Apodaca, a Washington State recruit whom you should all follow on Twitter (@AustinApodaca).
Chalk has ruled in this classification as well, which can only mean good things for the semifinal and final matchups. Top-seeded Brush looks to be a pretty heavy favorite, but don't count out semifinal opponent Bayfield, an unbeaten squad led by a pair of 1,000-yard rushers (seniors Aaron Velasquez and Colt Walker). On the other side, Florence and Kent Denver are set to do battle. These two teams played earlier this season, with Florence toppling Kent Denver, 35-20.
The 1A title game matchup is set, with Burlington taking on Wiggins on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Burlington Cougars are 12-0 and have outscored opponents by a 504-93 margin this season. Senior running back Christian Ramos has been the workhorse for the Cougars this season, and he'll look to keep the team's 23-game winning streak on the line against a 9-3 Wiggins team that is built to be the compete opposite. Senior quarterback Taylor Risner has not been afraid to toss around the pigskin; he's got 2,863 passing yards and 26 touchdown passes this year.