One of Colorado’s marquee high school football teams will visit French Field on Friday night.
Powerhouse Valor Christian, the defending Class 5A champion, faces Poudre at 7 p.m. in a Mount Lincoln Conference game.
The Eagles (5-3, 3-0 MLC) are ranked No. 7 in 5A and filled with Division I prospects. Poudre (5-3, 2-1 Mt. Lincoln) is fighting for its playoff life.
Here are some of the key players to watch.
The mega-star: Dylan McCaffrey. You know the family name. Ed played receiver for the Broncos. His oldest son Max starred at Duke, and Christian is a superstar at Stanford right now. Dylan is Valor Christian’s quarterback and a four-star recruit, verbally committed to Michigan.
Dylan has thrown for 1,730 yards and 18 touchdowns with four interceptions this season. Last week, he threw for 314 yards and four touchdowns in 15 completed passes on 20 attempts. He’s one of the top quarterback prospects in Colorado history.
The next legacy: Luke McCaffrey. Oh, you thought Dylan was the end of the McCaffrey line? Nope. Luke is a sophomore. He’ll likely end up a quarterback, but is currently being used as an athlete.
He’s emerging as the season carries on. He had 128 receiving yards last week and has 650 total yards and a kick return touchdown this season. He also just picked up an offer from the University of Colorado.
The immovable force: Noah Elliss. Because of their name and talent, the McCaffreys get a lot of attention, but Elliss may be the best college prospect on Valor Christian. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound defensive tackle has 8.5 tackles-for-loss and five sacks, despite facing constant double teams.
Elliss is a four-star recruit and has 24 full-ride scholarships, including from power programs like Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Oregon, among others. And yes, CSU and CU have offered.
The defensive power: Tanner Pierick. The 5-foot-11, 205 pound linebacker is a stalwart defensively for Poudre. He’s first on the team and 15th in 5A with 75 tackles, and has two sacks. When there’s a big stop for the Impalas, he’s usually in the middle of it.
The everything man: Zach Leal. The diminuitive Leal is everywhere. The 5-foot-7, 135-pound junior starts at receiver and cornerback and is Poudre’s primary return man. He’ll take end-arounds, screens and deep passes. He’s also intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown. Leal has 551 receiving yards, 406 kick return yards and 1,031 total yards this season.
The workhorse: J.T. Erickson. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound running back is a battering ram for the Impalas. He’s second in 5A with 173 rushing attempts and is sixth with 898 yards. He is fourth with 13 touchdowns on the ground and can always be counted on to get the important yardage.
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.
No. 7 Valor Christian at Poudre, 7 p.m. Friday at French Field
Twitter updates: @Kevin_Lytle