High-SchoolColorado: Football

Windsor's Joey O'Connor commits to Buckeyes

January, 17, 2012
According to multiple reports, Windsor senior offensive lineman Joey O'Connor committed to Ohio State on Tuesday. ESPN Recruiting Nation has a full report here.

O'Connor, rated the nation's No. 105 recruit and No. 15 offensive tackle in the ESPNU 150, had originally pledged to Penn State before de-committing back in November. O'Connor, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound lineman, led Windsor to the Class 3A state championship in December. According to The Denver Post, O'Connor called Ohio State coach Urban Meyer to announce his intention early Tuesday.

O'Connor appeared on the cover of the September 2011 issue of ESPNHS.

2011 football champions, state by state

December, 20, 2011
Across the country, the high school football season is now complete, and Colorado's football champs join the list of state champions in every classification throughout the nation.

To see the full list of state champions as well as how this state stacks up, click here.

Five Days of List-Mas: CO's underclass football players

December, 13, 2011

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Whether you’re putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you’re making that special list for Santa, there’s nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we’re bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!

Today: The top underclassmen in high school football.

The state championships are over and the Class of 2012 had a great run, but it’s never too early to start looking at the impressive players in the Class of 2013 and beyond. Who’s going to rule the gridiron in Colorado next season? We give you the early rundown of who to watch for.

5. Forrest Wetterstrom (JR), Longmont, QB
Credentials: Threw for 1,774 yards and 26 touchdowns, also rushed for 865 yards and 13 scores, led team to 4A quarterfinals

4. Christian McCaffrey (SO), Valor Christian, RB/WR
Credentials: Led Valor Christian to state title; scored four TDs in state title game

3. Bernard McDondle (SO), Salpointe Catholic, RB
Credentials: Rushed for 1,178 yards and 19 TDs; teamed up with senior brother Cameron to lead Columbine to state title

2. Ryan Novak (JR), Heritage, QB
Credentials: Big arm and size (6-5/230) has earned him interest from CU, CSU, Oklahoma, OK State, Pitt, Texas A&M

1. Christopher Fox (JR), Ponderosa, OL/DL
Credentials: 6-foot-5, 285, ESPNHS All-State first-teamer, recruited by Colorado, Purdue and Michigan, among others

Tomorrow: The POWERADE Colorado Weekly Rankings.

POWERADE Colorado Football Rankings (Final)

December, 5, 2011
After games ending Sunday, Dec. 4

NOTE: With the playoffs having ended, this will be the last Colorado weekly ranking of the season.

Valor Christian may play in a smaller classification, but you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't think the Eagles are the state's top team. Valor never let up on the gas pedal in a 66-10 thumping of Pine Creek, which was the team's third consecutive state title. In Class 5A, Columbine capped an extraordinary season with a 41-31 win over Lakewood.

1. Valor Christian — defeated Pine Creek, 66-10 (final regular season rank: 1)

2. Columbine — defeated Lakewood, 41-31 (final regular season rank: 2)

3. Lakewood — lost to Columbine, 41-31 (final regular season rank: NR)

Click here for the full POWERADE Colorado Weekly Rankings.

Colorado Preps Pick'em: Championship Edition

December, 2, 2011
Each week we'll take some intriguing matchups and put our knowledge to the test with some predictions. If you think your team's game is one of the best on the schedule, let us know in the comments or on Twitter @CParishESPNHS and we'll put it up for debate.

It's title time. Let's get to it.

(Ranks based on this week's state rankings)

No. 2 Columbine (13-0) vs. Lakewood (12-1)

We've liked Columbine all season, but get this — Lakewood is unbeaten in Colorado. The team's only loss came at East River (Orlando, Fla.) in a 27-10 loss to start the season. The Tigers have very quietly been perfect in the state, posting five shutouts and simply outscoring anyone who got in their way. But it'll be interesting to see how the team fares against the McDondle brothers (senior Cameron McDondle and sophomore Bernard McDondle) — the duo has combined for more than 3,000 yards and 40 scores on the ground. PREDICTION: Columbine 31, Lakewood 20

No. 1 Valor Christian (13-0) vs. No. 6 Pine Creek (13-0)

It's tough to argue that Valor hasn't been the state's best team all season long. Despite playing in 4A, the team has beaten every 5A comer and run roughshod over opponents in its own classification. In the playoffs, the Eagles have allowed just one touchdown and scored 152 points in three games. Can Pine Creek slow the them down? It's a team that has rushed for more than 3,400 yards this season, and you can bet Valor will get a steady dose on the ground again tonight. PREDICTION: Valor Christian 41, Pine Creek 17

Silver Creek (12-1) vs. Windsor (12-1)

When we talked to Silver Creek senior QB Austin Apodaca earlier this week, he told us his team wasn't nervous; in fact, they were calm and confident. We think that might change a little on game day. After all, this is Silver Creek's first appearance in a state title game. There's sure to be some nerves. And although weather is expected to play a role in Silver Creek's passing game, not much has slowed down the Washington State recruit this season. That said, Windsor is a tough, physical team that pounds the ball all game long and wears opponents down, and the defense is as good as Silver Creek has faced all year long. But remember: Silver Creek won at Windsor earlier this year, 41-21. Expect a similar result. PREDICTION: Silver Creek 34, Windsor 20

Bayfield (12-0) vs. Florence (12-1)

It shouldn't be too surprising that neither of these teams throws the ball much. It's going to be a long day of running the football, controlling the clock and wearing down the opposing defense. The more physically fit (and maybe healthy) team will win this game. Bayfield has two 1,000-yard rushers (seniors Aaron Velasquez and Colt Walker) who each have 21 touchdowns rushing. Florence, meanwhile, has a pair of 1,000-yard rushers as well — senior Cody Nichols and sophomore Johnnie Krien. PREDICTION: Bayfield 14, Florence 12

Previous Record: 22-21

Highlands Ranch's Joe Hansley named Gatorade POY

December, 1, 2011
Highlands Ranch running back and defensive back Joe Hansley was named the Gatorade Colorado Football Player of the Year this morning.

Hansley, a senior, helped Highlands Ranch advance to the Class 5A quarterfinals this season. In addition to racking up more than 2,000 yards of offense, he recorded seven interceptions on defense for the Falcons.

For the breakdown on Hansley's award, click here.

Football finals primer: Q&A with Silver Creek's Austin Apodaca

November, 30, 2011
The state's football title games take place this weekend, and to get you excited for the slate of games, we spent some time talking to Silver Creek senior quarterback Austin Apodaca, whose team will play in the Class 3A title game on Friday against Windsor.

Apodaca, as you might know, is coming off one of the most impressive playoff performances in state history. He tied a state record with seven touchdown passes and threw for 446 yards last week against Palisade, leading his squad to a 55-37 victory. He threw only six incompletions in 38 pass attempts. That's doing some work.

So what's next for the Washington State recruit? Read on...

ESPNHS: Let's get this out of the way first. After 446 yards and seven touchdowns, is your arm tired?
: (Laughs.) It wasn't too bad. I got to throw it around quite a bit, and that's always nice.

Read More »

Colorado Preps Pick'em: Playoffs Week 4

November, 23, 2011
No time for chit-chat; there's turkey to be had. So let's get to it.

Class 5A

Grandview 20, Columbine 17

Pomona 31, Lakewood 21

Class 4A

Valor Christian 44, Castle View 21

Monarch 22, Pine Creek 16

Class 3A

Windsor 24, Frederick 14

Silver Creek 28, Palisade 10

Class 2A

Brush 27, Bayfield 20

Kent Denver 31, Florence 17

Class 1A

Burlington 17, Wiggins 10

Previous Record: 18-16

The CO football bracket update

November, 22, 2011
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.

Class 1A

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.

Colorado Preps Pick'em: Playoffs Week 3

November, 17, 2011
Each week we'll take three intriguing matchups and put our knowledge to the test with some predictions. If you think your team's game is one of the best on the schedule, let us know in the comments or on Twitter @CParishESPNHS and we'll put it up for debate.

After a brief hiatus, we're back and ready to pick the state's best games. Let's get to it.

(Ranks based on this week's state rankings)

Ralston Valley (10-1) vs. No. 5 Grandview (10-1)

Grandview jumped on everyone's radar this season after the Wolves ended Mullen's 35- game winning streak. Now the question is whether the team can follow it up with a deep playoff run. So far, so good. But a tough Ralston Valley squad awaits. The Mustangs have a multitude of rushing options, and they get after the quarterback as well as anyone in the league (25.5 sacks so far this season). If Grandview can pick up the quarterback pressure, they can and should win. But that's easier said than done. PREDICTION: Grandview 21, Ralston Valley 17

Mullen (9-2) vs. Pomona (10-1)

Remember when we told you that Mullen's Addie Brown was going to have a big season as the replacement for current Syracuse freshman Adonis Ameen-Moore? Well Brown has been on a tear lately, scoring eight times in three games. He'll need to be big in this one. Mullen is still one of the state's top teams, but the Mustangs are not the dominant team we're used to seeing in Colorado. Pomona is a team on the way up, and it'll be tough to slow down senior QB Alec Feland. Class 5A is as up for grabs as it's ever been. And so is this game. PREDICTION: Mullen 17, Pomona 14

Longmont (11-0) vs. Castle View (10-1)

If we had an MVP of Class 4A, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone more deserving than Longmont junior Forrest Wetterstrom. He's thrown for more than 1,500 yards and has 25 touchdowns on the season, throwing just four INTs, and he's one of the big reasons why the Trojans have one of the best offenses in the state. But Castle View counters with a pretty strong offense of its own. Its only loss was a drubbing at the hands of Valor Christian (join the club) and the defense, led by senior LB Jamie Lambert, is underrated. PREDICTION: Longmont 27, Castle View 20

Previous Record: 17-14

Colorado fall postseason update

November, 15, 2011
We've been MIA for a little while, but the Colorado postseason has been in full swing, so it's time to get back on track and find out what's going on around the state.


The 5A bracket is still largely intact as the quarterfinals get underway this weekend. Only one double-digit seed — Lakewood — still remains. Mullen coach Dave Logan also won his 200th game last week. In 4A, all of the top seeds won their first games except for Montrose, which fell to Greeley West in the first round. We'll see if this is merely a coronation for Valor Christian or if some other team can pull the major upset. In 3A, it's been a wild ride as top-seeded Canon City lost to 16 seed Frederick, sending the entire bracket into tumult — who wins now is anyone's guess.


Cherry Creek may have been rated one of the nation's top teams in the POWERADE FAB 50, but that's why they play the games. The Bruins didn't advance past the state quarterfinals, and Denver East won the Class 5A title (then promptly broke the trophy). You can see the full game in its entirety here. In Class 4A, Mullen proved to be the class of the classification in a win against Evergreen. You can also view that entire contest here. In 3A, Faith Christian withstood a furious late effort to hold on to a 1-0 win over Classical Academy. You can watch the full game here.

Colorado Preps Pick'em: Playoffs Week 1

November, 3, 2011
Each week we'll take three intriguing matchups and put our knowledge to the test with some predictions. If you think your team's game is one of the best on the schedule, let us know in the comments or on Twitter @CParishESPNHS and we'll put it up for debate.

(Ranks based on this week's state rankings)

Chaparral (6-3) vs. Westminster (6-3)

Think the Wolverines were motivated following a frustrating 10-9 loss to ThunderRidge? Chaparral beat its next three opponents by a 117-0 margin and have now posted five shutouts this season. The defense has been stellar; it's the offense that needs to stay consistent. Senior Chris Page has more than 1,000 rushing yards and 10 scores, but he'll need to have a big game against Westminster. Junior Patrick Wilson, a tough, hard-nosed runner, has 1,310 yards and 16 scores this year. PREDICTION: Westminster 24, Chaparral 20

Fairview (5-4) vs. Regis Jesuit (5-4)

OK, so we've documented the puzzling struggles of Regis this season. After opening the year at No. 3 in our ranks, Regis struggled to stay above .500 all season long. But the playoffs are where you make your mark, and the record no longer matters; win and you advance. Once QB Eystin Salum went down with an injury, the Raiders struggled with a shift in offensive philsophy, but senior RB Jordan Jungers has been very effective at RB. Fairview, meanwhile, is a sturdy 5-1 at home but 0-3 on the road, which could be problematic. Senior QB Michael McVenes is effective when he needs to throw, but the Knights are a grinding, clock management team that doesn't score much and relies on defense. That won't fly against Regis. PREDICTION: Regis 28, Fairview 17

Cherokee Trail (6-3) vs. Fountain-Fort Carson (7-2)

Cherokee Trail is probably better than its 6-3 record implies, but a tough schedule coupled with some injury problems, particularly to star Thomas Singleton, led to a few tough losses. Things won't get easier from here. Fountain-Fort Carson is a good team that lost twice back-to-back in the middle of the season but has since reeled off four straight victories. Senior Kevin Davis has been stellar defensively, and he'll need to be in order to slow down Singleton and pressure the star QB into making bad decisions. PREDICTION: Cherokee Trail 24, Fountain-Fort Carson 21

Previous Record: 17-11

POWERADE Colorado Rankings: Week 9

October, 31, 2011
After games ending Sunday, Oct. 30

NOTE: With the playoffs beginning, this will be the last Colorado weekly ranking until the end of the season.

Not to toot our own horn, but we've got to take a little credit for this one. In Thursday's Colorado Preps Pick'em, we picked Columbine to edge Mullen in a close matchup. And that's exactly what happened - the Rebels vaulted to No. 2 in our state rankings by beating Mullen, 24-21. But the rankings remain largely unchanged, as all other teams won to hold firm in the last rankings of the regular season.

1. Valor Christian — defeated Ponderosa, 50-0 (last week: No. 1)
2. Columbine — defeated Mullen, 24-21 (last week: No. 6)
3. Grand Junction — defeated Durango, 41-6 (last week: No. 3)

Click here for the full POWERADE Colorado Weekly Rankings.

Colorado Preps Pick'em: Week 9

October, 27, 2011
Each week we'll take three intriguing matchups and put our knowledge to the test with some predictions. If you think your team's game is one of the best on the schedule, let us know in the comments or on Twitter @CParishESPNHS and we'll put it up for debate.

(Ranks based on this week's state rankings)

No. 2 Mullen (7-1) vs. No. 6 Columbine (8-0)

Columbine has just run roughshod over opponents this season, outscoring opponents 329-89. They even beat up on a very tough Bear Creek team last week. But Mullen is not just any opponent. After suffering an early 12-7 loss to Grandview, the Mustangs have gone back to their dominant ways, showing why they're the three-time state champs. This could be the best game of the year. Why not? Let's pick the upset. PREDICTION: Columbine 27, Mullen 20

Highlands Ranch (6-2) vs. Regis (5-3)

It's been a pretty frustrating season for Regis, by its standards anyway. The team that played in the 5A finals last fall is now 5-3 and in need of a big win to stay relevant and build momentum for a late postseason push. But the Raiders' record is deceptive; they lost by four to the state's top team (Valor Christian) and by seven to top teams Pomona and ThunderRidge. A win against Highlands Ranch would be huge. But don't count out the Falcons, led by senior RB Joe Hansley. This one will be very tight. PREDICTION: Regis 17, Highlands Ranch 14

Holy Family (7-1) vs. D'Evelyn (6-2)

Defense has been the story for Holy Family this season, leading the team to an impressive 7-1 mark. Seniors Sam Quinn and Kyle Spengler have led the way for the Tigers, and they'll need to against a D'Evelyn team with an offense as good as they come in Class 3A. Senior Caleb Flack is back after missing some games with a concussion. And although the Jaguars got great production out of junior Cody Marvel while Flack was out, it's nice to have the experienced signal-caller back in there and ready for action. PREDICTION: D'Evelyn 27, Holy Family 20

Previous Record: 15-10

POWERADE Colorado Rankings: Week 8

October, 24, 2011
After games ending Sunday, Oct. 23

CHSAA officials are reportedly looking into a late forfeit on Friday that handed the state's top team, Valor Christian, an automatic victory. Littleton, the Eagles' opponent, was 1-6 and battling injuries, and a lower-level squad had lost by a significant margin to Valor one day earlier. But the forfeit has raised some eyebrows about whether it was in regards to the safety of players or simply because the Lions didn't want to play. Regardless, the Eagles remain our top team, and Pomona, which beat previous No. 6 Ralston Valley, is among two new teams in the top 10.

1. Valor Christian — won by forfeit over Littleton (last week: No. 1)
2. Mullen — defeated Arapahoe, 48-24 (last week: No. 2)
3. Grand Junction — defeated Fruita Monument, 42-14 (last week: No. 3)

Click here for the full POWERADE Colorado Weekly Rankings.