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No. 4 Arapahoe (7-1) vs. Smoky Hill (4-4)
When/where: 4 p.m. Friday at Stutler Bowl
Last meeting: Arapahoe 6, vs. Smoky Hill 0, Nov. 4, 2017
A week after ending Cherry Creek’s 28-game win streak against Colorado competition with a 13-10 upset, the Warriors’ quest for an unlikely Centennial League title heads to Stutler Bowl. Smoky Hill Coach Tom Thenell’s squad has shown an ability to play with the state’s 5A blue bloods, knocking off Pomona by a point earlier this fall. But the Buffaloes will face a real challenge against a Warriors defense that just held Creek to its second lowest point total in four seasons.
4A No. 3 Pine Creek (7-1) vs. No. 8 Regis Jesuit (5-3)
When/where: 6:30 p.m. Friday at D. Kellogg Stadium
Last meeting: Regis 17, at Pine Creek 14, Nov. 14, 2020
The Raiders have played three ranked teams so far this season, and lost to all three. They’ll get another chance this week against 4A power Pine Creek. Regis has shown little trouble scoring points (37.8 points/game) with dual threat QB Exander Carroll (1,472 total yards) running the show. But neither have the Eagles, who have a talented QB of their own in Josiah Roy (1,813 total yards). This one could be a shootout.
No. 7 Grandview (6-2) vs. Cherokee Trail (5-3)
When/where: 7 p.m. Friday at Legacy Stadium
Last meeting: Cherokee Trail 28, vs. Grandview 23, Nov. 6, 2020
Cherokee Trail faces its third ranked opponent in four weeks, with a chance to make a big statement against the Wolves. Senior QB Logan Brooke (2,028 pass yards, 21 TDs) has been prolific in his one and only varsity season, including back-to-back 300-yard passing games the past two weeks. The athletic and active Grandview secondary — eight total interceptions, with five from senior safety Malique Singleton — poses a significant challenge.
No. 6 Ralston Valley (7-1) vs. No. 5 Columbine (6-2)
When/where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Jeffco Stadium
Last meeting: Columbine 29, vs. Ralston Valley 15, Nov. 29, 2019
The four-team race for the 5A Jeffco League title — Pomona is 3-0 while Ralston Valley, Columbine and Arvada West are all 2-1 — could hinge on the outcome of this one. Ralston Valley rebounded from a 17-3 loss to Pomona with an impressive shutout of Lakewood last week, while Columbine has won two in a row after falling to Valor Christian and A-West in consecutive weeks. The matchup to watch: RV’s stout defense (9.6 points allowed per game, 40 tackles for loss) vs. Columbine’s physical RB Seth Cromwell (122 carries, 1,025 yards).
Denver South (7-1) vs. Aurora Central (7-1)
When/where: 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Aurora Public Schools Stadium
Last meeting: Denver South 48, at Aurora Central 12, Nov. 1, 2019
In his first season at the helm, Aurora Central alum Chris Kelly has the Trojans on the verge of their second eight-win season since 2004. Junior RB Cai’Reis Curby (1,197 rush yards, 15 TDs) has been TNT on cleats, and senior DE Marcus Howard (18.0 sacks, three forced fumbles) a game-wrecker. Now comes their biggest test in weeks: South QB Joseph Capra (1,895 pass yards, 27 TDs) and his array of weapons, including the state’s leading pass catcher, Rashad Caldwell (46 receptions, 1,016 yards). A busy night for the scoreboard operator awaits.
No. 2 Dakota Ridge (8-0) vs. No. 10 Golden (7-1)
When/where: 7 p.m. Friday at NACC Stadium
Last meeting: Dakota Ridge 45, vs. Golden 3, Nov. 7, 2020
Dakota Ridge’s march to a second consecutive unbeaten regular season gets the first of its two biggest roadblocks with Friday night’s showdown with Golden (a visit from No. 8 Chatfield awaits next week). Outside of a Week 1 excursion to Florida, the Eagles have been involved in nothing but blowouts thus far, winning games by an average of 35.5 points. Junior RB Noah Triplett (1,106 total yards) should have Golden’s full attention.
No. 1 Roosevelt (7-0) vs. No. 4 Fort Morgan (6-0)
When/where: 7 p.m. Friday at Fort Morgan
Last meeting: Roosevelt 17, vs. Fort Morgan 16, Nov. 21, 2020
In a rematch of last year’s 3A state playoffs instant classic, senior QB Briggs Wheatley (1,211 yards passing, 471 rushing) and the explosive Fort Morgan offense meet the most dominating defense in the state. Led by CSU-bound OLB Cooper Walton (45 tackles, 11 for loss), the Roughriders have allowed just 4.7 points per game this season while compiling 81 tackles for loss, 23 turnovers and four shutouts. The Riders have notched at least one sack and one interception in all seven wins this fall. Translation: Wheatley is going to have his hands full.
No. 3 Mead (5-1) vs. No. 6 Holy Family (5-2)
When/where: 7 p.m. Friday at Holy Family
Last meeting: Mead 34, vs. Holy Family 7, Oct. 25, 2019
The winner of this one gets pole position in the race for the 3A North Central 2 League crown. Holy Family is a week removed from gutting out a 42-35 overtime win over No. 7 Frederick, a game that saw sophomore QB Rylan Cooney throw for 326 yards and six TDs. Mead has an efficient signal caller of its own in senior Gavin Garrettson (740 passing yards, 13 TDs), and a defense that has surrendered single-digit points in all but one game — a 37-7 loss to top-ranked Roosevelt.