That’s how many Fridays we have left until the start of the high school football season.
I was looking up information for another story this week when I found the schedules for local teams, and it had me thinking.
This is going to be a fun season. Sure, it’s only mid-June, but offseason camps are finishing, and July is mostly downtime for everyone.
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If for no reason other than to have some fun, in honor of the 10 weeks left of summer, let’s count down 10 things to watch this upcoming season.
10. Starting with a bang: New conference alignment means none of the Fort Collins teams share a league, but most will still play each other.
Because the last five games of the season are conference play, nonconference games are right at the start. Fossil Ridge, under new coach Zak Bigelow, opens with three city games in a row. Fort Collins’ first two games are in the city. Rocky Mountain has two of its first four opponents in town, and Poudre’s third through fifth games are Fort Collins rivalries.
It will provide an electric start to the season.
9. New teams in town: New conference alignments in 5A aren’t based on regions, meaning lots of new teams will come to Fort Collins.
The conferences will bring some problems (like long travel) but it will be fun to see new teams. Valor Christian, Ralston Valley and Denver East are just a few squads who will visit, providing fresh opposition for local teams.
8. Visiting stars: The new opponents bring some big talents for fans to watch. Valor Christian, the defending 5A champion, is led by quarterback Dylan McCaffrey. You know the name — he’s the son of former Broncos star Ed and brother of Max (Raiders) and Christian, the Heisman hopeful at Stanford.
Dylan is a four-star recruit who has verbally committed to Michigan. McCaffrey and Valor play Poudre on Oct. 28 at French Field. Fossil Ridge plays Cherry Creek and and legendary coach Dave Logan on Oct. 7 on the road. Ralston Valley, which will play at Rocky Mountain on Nov. 4, is always loaded with top talent.
7. Local stars: While it’s fun to see visiting talent, it’s even more exciting to watch the local kids grow up. Who will emerge as a star this season? A few names to watch: Wide receiver Zach Leal (Poudre), defensive back/return man Michael Kadlick (Fort Collins), receiver Calvin Marley (Fossil Ridge) and running back Ivan Blount (Rocky Mountain).
6. College bound? The names above could be on the cusp of breaking out. These guys are established stars, who are destined for big seasons and possibly college football. Windsor’s Corte Tapia has already broken Calais Campbell’s state sack record and has several offers already, including from Wyoming and Northern Colorado.
The Fossil Ridge defensive duo of Brady Russell and Nick Edridge are also doing the college recruiting circuit and will play at the next level somewhere.
Quarterbacks James Campbell (Poudre) and Griffin Roberts (Fossil Ridge) are hoping for big years, followed by college opportunities. And don’t forget about the kicker: Fossil Ridge’s Evan Bergerson could play at the next level. Other established stars are defensive back Brady Morris (Rocky Mountain), defensive end Storm Fox (Windsor) and quarterback Michael Stevenson (Resurrection Christian).
5. Resurrection Christian moves up: The Cougars have back-to-back semifinal appearances in 1A, but they make the leap to 2A this year. Can they keep up the success? There’s a talent base that should allow Resurrection Christian to continue to be competitive.
4. Wizards’ defense: Windsor is the defending Class 4A champion and will look to repeat under new coach Skylar Brower. Windsor returns most of the stars from the best defense in the state. The best game of the regular season is Sept. 10 when Windsor visits Pine Creek, winners of the two 4A titles before the Wizards took the crown last year.
3. Every game matters: Finally, the unnecessary consolation game for teams that didn’t make the playoffs is gone. Everyone in 5A will play 10 regular season games, five in conference play. There’s little room for error, especially once league games start, so the intensity level will be high every week.
2. RPI madness: Football (and all other team sports) will use RPI to determine playoff fields next year. 5A football will also drop from 32 to 16 teams in the playoffs. While some teams have loaded up on great opponents to help boost RPI, others have tried to schedule games they are confident they’ll win. No one really knows the best method, but you can bet there will be plenty of debate as the playoffs near.
1. The students: On-field talent plays a huge role in having a great high school football season, but it’s the students in the stands who can make the biggest difference. There’s a special feel when the stands are packed and the student sections are bouncing. It’s just more fun for everyone.
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.