Tigers draw No. 2 seed for 5A football playoffs
Robbie Owens knows it won’t be easy to reach the Class 5A state championship game, but being one of the top two seeds can’t hurt.
Grand Junction (9-0), despite being ranked first in the Denver Post media poll most of the season, is seeded second in the 32-team field behind the only other undefeated team in the state’s biggest classification, Columbine. Only one wildcard point separates the two — the Rebels finished with 105 points, the Tigers with 104.
The Tigers host No. 31 Chatfield (3-6) in the first round; Columbine (9-0) plays No. 32 Fort Collins (4-5).
“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter,” the Tigers’ coach said of being seeded second instead of first. “If we all make it to the second round, either one of us will have a very tough second-round game. You want to have as many home games as you can and hope you make it as far as you can.”
Fruita Monument (4-5) did not make the 32-team state playoff field — the Wildcats are No. 33 in the state and host No. 34 Heritage (3-6) in a non-qualifier game. Central (1-8) is No. 46 and plays at No. 45 Hinkley (2-7). Fruita finished with 80.333 wildcard points; Fort Collins had 80.556.
It will be a full weekend of football at Stocker. Owens anticipates the Tigers will play at 7 p.m. on Friday, with Fruita’s game either Thursday or Saturday night — Colorado Mesa University plays Adams State at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“That’s what they’re talking about,” Owens said of the District 51 athletic directors, who will finalize game times today. “I love Friday nights. We’re used to it, it’s how our schedule is set up to approach Friday night games.”
Owens and his staff were already watching game film Sunday afternoon after wrapping up an undefeated regular season with a 41-6 win at Durango.
Many of the starters watched the second half so they’d be rested and healthy for the playoffs.
“We really wanted to make sure we were hitting our stride when the playoffs came. I don’t know that we necessarily have,” Owens said. “We have room to improve and get better and we need to do that against Chatfield. We’ve done a good job of resting our guys. Sean (Rubalcaba) and Jerreon (Dennis) only played one half against Durango and we got some quality time for some of our other kids. Now we’ve really got to get the ball rolling.”
In the Class 1A playoffs, second-seeded Hotchkiss (9-0) hosts No. 15 Sargent (5-4). Burlington (9-0) received the No. 1 seed and plays John Mall (3-6). Hayden (5-4) edged Paonia for the second spot from the Western Slope Conference and is seeded No. 14, playing at Luthern (9-0).
Norwood (8-1) is seeded fourth in the Class A 8-man playoffs and is home against No. 13 Sangre de Cristo (6-3), with Dove Creek (6-3) seeded No. 11 and playing at No. 6 Elbert (8-1).
The Class 2A, 3A and 4A playoff pairings will be released Nov. 6 after the regular season ends this week.
As for the 5A bracket, Owens figures it’s anybody’s game.
“(Class) 5A football is wide open, a lot of teams can win it,” he said. “Teams like Chaparral (which the Tigers could play in the second round), Regis play in tough conferences and have had some tough losses but they have an opportunity to win it.
“You look at the bracket, you’ve got teams throughout it that are going to be tough matchups for everybody.”
Palisade High School received the No. 8 seed in Class 4A, which puts the Bulldogs (19-4) in Region A at top-seeded Cheyenne Mountain this week.
The top two teams after pool play in each of the four, four-team regionals advance to the state tournament. Roosevelt and Niwot are also in Region A. Glenwood Springs, which finished second to Palisade in the district playoffs, is seeded 15th and plays at Windsor, along with Mullen and Silver Creek.
Montrose received the No. 14 seed and is at Coronado, with Longmont and Green Mountain also in the field. Durango is seeded No. 4 and hosts Region D, facing Valor Christian, Lewis-Palmer and Mesa Ridge.
Gunnison, seeded No. 7 in Class 3A, is at Bayfield in Region B and No. 11 Roaring Fork plays at Valley in Region C.
Meeker, Mancos and Rangely play in the Class 2A Region C tournament at Telluride and Norwood is in Class 1A District 1. Sites have not been announced for the 1A tournaments. With Norwood in Region A are Mountain Valley, Sierra Grande and Vail Christian.