The 2022 football season in Aurora is just around the corner, with official practices scheduled to begin Aug. 8 and first games allowed on Aug. 25.

City teams have their initial schedules in place (though they are subject to change) so here’s a look at some of the highlights for the last two Aurora programs in alphabetical order — Smoky Hill and Vista PEAK:

The Smoky Hill football team lost to Rock Canyon a Class 5A playoff shootout in 2021 and will see the Jaguars again during the 2022 regular season in a Week 2 matchup. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

SMOKY HILL: The Smoky Hill football team ushers in a new era as Tom Thenell, who turned the program around, departed after a 4-7 season and Brandon Alconcel takes the reins. The Buffaloes will square off against seven of the 11 (including the playoffs) they faced last season and they compiled a 2-5 mark against those squads. After an Aug. 27 opener against Denver East, Smoky Hill has a Sept. 2 contest against Rock Canyon in a rematch of a Class 5A state playoff game that saw more than 100 points go up last season (with the Jaguars prevailing) and then squares off with rival Overland Sept. 8 with the chance to keep custody of the Wagon Wheel traveling trophy. A rugged league schedule for Smoky Hill includes a back-to-back set with two-time defending Class 5A state champion Cherry Creek (Oct. 7) and Grandview (Oct. 14). Last season: Smoky Hill’s opponents combined for a 64-50 record in 2021.

Smoky Hill schedule – Home games in all caps (played at Stutler Bowl unless otherwise noted): Saturday, Aug. 27 — vs. Denver East at All-City Stadium, 11 a.m.; Friday, Sept. 2 — vs. ROCK CANYON at Legacy Stadium, 4:30 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 8 — vs. Overland at Stutler Bowl, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 16 — vs. Palmer Ridge at Don Breese Stadium, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 23 — HIGHLANDS RANCH, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 30 — vs. Arapahoe at Littleton Public Schools Stadium, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 7 — CHERRY CREEK, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 14 — vs. Grandview at Legacy Stadium, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 20 — EAGLECREST, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 27 — CHEROKEE TRAIL, 7 p.m.

For the second straight season, the Vista PEAK football team opens the season in a big way with an Aug. 25 matchup against Aurora Public Schools rival Rangeview to christen the 2022 campaign. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

VISTA PEAK: Coach DaVaughn Thornton Sr.’s Bison racked up seven wins last season and a Class 4A state playoff berth last season and will face a slate in 2022 that is largely different than it was in that campaign. Vista PEAK has a strong opener against Aurora Public Schools rival Rangeview on Aug. 25 — looking to extend a win streak against the Raiders — which it hopes will generate some early momentum as the schedule turns toughest in the middle season. In consecutive weeks, the Bison pay a visit to Vista Ridge (Sept. 23), play on the road against Thomas Jefferson, play host to a Ponderosa team that shut them out last season (Oct. 7) followed by a road game against nine-win Denver South on Oct. 13. Last season: Vista PEAK’s 2022 opponents combined for a 54-55 record in 2021.

Vista PEAK schedule – Home games all caps (played at Aurora Public Schools Stadium unless otherwise noted): Thursday, Aug. 25 — vs. Rangeview at APS Stadium, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 2 — at Brighton, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 8 — BROOMFIELD, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 16 — SKYLINE, 6:30 p.m.’ Friday, Sept. 23 — at Vista Ridge, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 1 — vs. Thomas Jefferson at All-City Stadium, 11 a.m.; Friday, Oct. 7 — PONDEROSA, 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 13 — vs. Denver South at All-City Stadium, 6 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 20 — vs. Hinkley at APS Stadium, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 28 — FNE WARRIORS, 6:30 p.m.

The Overland football team has a good amount of turnover in teams of schedule from last season, but will resume its Wagon Wheel rivalry contest against Smoky Hill in Week 3 of the 2022 season. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

OVERLAND: Coach Kyle Reese’s Trailblazers finished 5-5 last season and their 2022 schedule includes four holdovers teams from that slate, teams against which they went 2-2. Overland opens with former Centennial League foe Grandview on Aug. 26 and then sees rival Smoky Hill on Sept. 8 in a game that will again decide custody of the Wagon Wheel traveling trophy. Short (to Littleton Public Schools Stadium) and long (to Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction) road trips precede a return home in Week 6 for a contest against Westminster that is both Homecoming and 5A League 7 opener. Last season: Overland’s 2022 opponents posted a combined record of 33-70 in 2021.

Overland scheduleHome games in all caps (played at Stutler Bowl unless otherwise noted): Friday, Aug. 26 — GRANDVIEW, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 2 — at Prairie View, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 8 — SMOKY HILL, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 15 — vs. Heritage at Littleton Public Schools Stadium, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 23 — vs. Grand Junction at Stocker Stadium, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 30 — WESTMINSTER, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 6 — vs. Northglenn at 5 Star Stadium, 6 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 13 — DENVER EAST, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 22 — MOUNTAIN RANGE, 2 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 28 — vs. Doherty at Garry Berry Stadium, 7 p.m.

The Rangeview football team faces a few of the same teams in 2022 as it did in 2021, including Horizon, which the Raiders meet on Oct. 8. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

RANGEVIEW: The Raiders had turnover again at head coach in the wake of a 3-7 season last fall — which came on a short turnaround after they also played in the spring — with Chris Dixon taking over the program. Rangeview’s schedule includes three holdovers in Aurora Public Schools district rival Vista PEAK (which awaits in the season opener Aug. 26 at APS Stadium), Horizon (Oct. 8) and Prairie View (Oct. 13 in a rematch with a team it lost to by two points), all teams that got the better of the Raiders last season. Rangeview has a second matchup with an APS program when it faces Aurora Central on Sept. 15, which precedes a Homecoming contest on Sept. 23 against Boulder. The Raiders end the season with consecutive road games at Brighton (Oct. 21) and Mullen (Oct. 28), which wraps up play in 5A League 2. Last season: Rangeview’s 2022 opponents combined for a 52-54 record in 2021.

Rangeview schedule Home games all caps (played at Aurora Public Schools Stadium unless otherwise noted): Friday, Aug. 26 — VISTA PEAK, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 2 — at Westminster, 6 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 9 — at Douglas County, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 15 — vs. Aurora Central at APS Stadium, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 23 — BOULDER, 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 29 — LEGACY, 6:30 p.m.’ Saturday, Oct. 8 — HORIZON, 2 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 13 — PRAIRIE VIEW, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 21 — at Brighton, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 28 — at Mullen, 7 p.m.

The Regis Jesuit football team plays five teams that won 10 or more games in 2021 during its 2022 schedule, which opens against one of them in Class 5A finalist Valor Christian on Aug. 26. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

REGIS JESUIT: Coach Danny Filleman’s Raiders — who finished 8-4 in 2021 — can lay claim to the most difficult 2022 schedule in Aurora and one of the stiffest in the state based on records from last season. Of the 10 opponents in front of Regis Jesuit, five finished with 10 or more wins last season, three of its foes made it to at least the 5A semifinals and it will play both of the state title game participants (winner Cherry Creek and runner-up Valor Christian). The Raiders begin with the Eagles with an Aug. 26 road game ahead of playing in California against Oaks Christian H.S. on Sept. 3. Non-league play for Regis Jesuit concludes with nine-win Arapahoe (Sept. 9) and Ralston Valley (Sept. 16) ahead of a Sept. 22 visit to Cherry Creek, which won both meetings last season. A difficult 5A League 6 schedule includes three 10-win teams in Pine Creek (Oct. 8), Legend (Oct. 21) and Fountain-Fort Carson (Oct. 28). Last season: Regis Jesuit’s opponents finished a combined 92-34 in 2021.

Regis Jesuit schedule Home games in all caps (played at Lou Kellogg Stadium unless otherwise noted): Friday, Aug. 26 — at Valor Christian, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 3 — at Oaks Christian H.S. (San Diego, Calif.), 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 9 — ARAPAHOE, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 16 — RALSTON VALLEY, 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 22 — at Cherry Creek, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 30 — DOUGLAS COUNTY, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 8 — at Pine Creek, 1 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 14 — vs. Chaparral at EchoPark Stadium, 4 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 21 — LEGEND, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 28 — FOUNTAIN-FORT CARSON, 6:30 p.m.

The Gateway football team faces eight new opponents in the 2022 season, but will see Denver South again after the teams squared off in 2021. The Olys and Ravers are scheduled to play on Oct. 7. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

THURSDAY, AUG. 4: GATEWAY: Rico McCoy has taken over as coach of the Olys, who are coming off a winless 2021 fall campaign following a quick turnaround from playing in the spring as well due to the coronavirus pandemic. Gateway has nearly an entirely new set of opponents for 2022 with only Denver South and Centaurus as holdovers from last season though they will be non-league foes. The majority of the Olys’ schedule is made up of league competition, as six of its 10 contests will come against other teams in the 4A League 8. Gateway opens with a non-league contest, however, as it plays at home against Northridge on Aug. 25 as one of the first contests of Week 1. Three of the Olys’ first four games come at home with a Sept. 2 contest against Northglenn and Sept. 17 tilt with Liberty both set for Aurora Public Schools Stadium. A rematch with a nine-win Denver South team is set for Oct. 7. Last season: Gateway’s 2022 opponents had a combined record of 37-65 in 2021.

Gateway schedule — Home games in all caps (played at Aurora Public Schools Stadium unless otherwise noted): Thursday, Aug. 25 — NORTHRIDGE, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 2 — NORTHGLENN, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 10 — at FNE Warriors, 1 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 17 — LIBERTY, 2 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 23 — at Thornton, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 1 — WIDEFIELD, noon; Friday, Oct. 7 — at Denver South, 4 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 14 — vs. Hinkley at Aurora Public Schools Stadium, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 22 — PALMER, 2 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 27 — at Centaurus, 7 p.m.

The Grandview football team suffered its only league loss of the 2021 season to eventual Class 5A state champion Cherry Creek. The Wolves close the 2022 regular season against the rival Bruins. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

GRANDVIEW: Coach Tom Doherty’s Wolves finished 10-3 and made it to the Class 5A state semifinals (where they lost to Valor Christian) and will face eight of the 10 opponents it had last season in 2022. Grandview opens against Overland on Aug. 26 at Stutler Bowl before a road game against one of its two new opponents (Fossil Ridge) in Week 2. Week 3 marks the third time the Wolves will face powerhouse Ralston Valley in a 13-game span after they met the Mustangs in the regular season and playoffs a year ago, splitting the two contests but winning the most important one, which came in the postseason. A precursor to league play is a home matchup with Pomona on Sept. 22 in a rematch of a game that was decided by just one point (in Grandview’s favor) last season. The Wolves open 5A League 7 play against rival Eaglecrest Oct. 1 on the Cherry Creek School District’s annual Military Appreciation Night and continues the gauntlet against Arapahoe the next week. A Week 9 matchup with rival Cherokee Trail gets the Wolves up for the regular season finale against two-time defending 5A state champion Cherry Creek, which dealt them their only league loss last season. Last season: Grandview’s 2022 opponents combined for a 67-48 record.

Grandview schedule — Home games in all caps (played at Legacy Stadium unless otherwise noted): Friday, Aug. 26 — vs. Overland at Stutler Bowl, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 1 — vs. Fossil Ridge at Timnath Stadium, 7 p.m.’ Friday, Sept. 9 — RALSTON VALLEY, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 15 — vs. Fruita Monument at Stocker Stadium, 6 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 22 — POMONA, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 1 — vs. Eaglecrest at Legacy Stadium (Military Appreciation Night); Thursday, Oct. 6 — vs. Arapahoe at Littleton Public Schools Stadium, 6 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 14 — SMOKY HILL, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 21 — CHEROKEE TRAIL, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 28 — at Cherry Creek, 7 p.m.

The Hinkley football team faces rival Aurora Central in Week 2 of the 2022 season, but otherwise has nine different opponents than it faced in 2021. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

HINKLEY: With the tragic death of T.C. Newland just before the new year (story, here), Hinkley seeks to gain traction with a new head coach in Dennis York, a veteran assistant who has made many stops around Aurora. The Thunderbirds almost an entirely new group of opponents with the exception a Week 2 matchup with Aurora Public Schools rival Aurora Central in a game scheduled for Sept. 1 at APS Stadium. Hinkley has two other district opponents on the slate with back-to-back games against Gateway (Oct. 14) and Vista PEAK (Oct. 20) in a pair of non-league contests. The Thunderbirds enter play in the new 4A League 8 and face their first league foe on Sept. 17 when they play host to Centaurus. Last season: Hinkley’s 2022 opponents combined for a 40-60 record in 2021.

Hinkley schedule — Home games all caps (played at Aurora Public Schools Stadium unless otherwise noted): Thursday, Aug. 25 — vs. George Washington at All-City Stadium, TBA; Thursday, Sept. 1 — AURORA CENTRAL, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 9 — ADAMS CITY, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 17 — CENTAURUS, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 24 — at Liberty, 1 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 30 — THORNTON, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 7 — at Widefield, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 14 — GATEWAY, 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 20 — vs. Vista PEAK at APS Stadium, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 28 — vs. Palmer at Garry Berry Stadium, 3:30 p.m.

The Aurora Central football team meets rival Hinkley in Week 2 of the upcoming 2022 season in one of just three matchups with the same opponents the Trojans played during an 8-3 season in 2021. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 3: AURORA CENTRAL: Coach Chris Kelly’s Trojans finished 8-3 last season and qualified for the Class 4A state playoffs. Only three of Aurora Central’s opponents from last season appear on this season’s schedule (Falcon, Hinkley and Adams City) and it went 2-1 against that trio with wins over Hinkley and Adams City and a loss to Falcon. The Trojans will be among the last teams to play on the opening weekend with a 2 p.m. Week 1 game on Saturday, Aug. 27, against Northfield, a six-win team last season. Aurora Central meets rival Hinkley in Week 2 and gets a chance to avenge a close loss with a visit to Falcon in Week 3. Rangeview in Week 3 (Aurora Central’s Homecoming) and George Washington in Week 5 round out the non-league schedule before the Trojans delve into their new league (4A League 7), which begins with a road game at Adams City on Sept. 30. Three of the remaining league games will be at home (vs. Broomfield, Heritage and Thornton) sandwiched around a Week 8 trek to the Western Slope to play Fruita Monument. Last season: Aurora Central’s opponents went a combined 45-56 in 2021.

Aurora Central schedule — Home games all caps (played at Aurora Public Schools Stadium unless otherwise noted): Saturday, Aug. 27 — NORTHFIELD, 2 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 1 — vs. Hinkley at APS Stadium, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 9 — at Falcon, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 15 — RANGEVIEW, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 24 — at George Washington, 2 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 30 — at Adams City, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 6 — BROOMFIELD, 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 13 — at Fruita Monument, TBD; Friday, Oct. 21 — HERITAGE, 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 27 — THORNTON, 6:30 p.m.

Cherokee Trail opens league play with a clash against two-time defending Class 5A state champion Cherry Creek in Week 6 of the 2022 prep football season. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

CHEROKEE TRAIL: The Cougars saw head coach Joe Johnson step down after a season that saw them win seven games and advance to the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs. The first time Cherokee Trail takes the field with Justin Jajczyk as its new head coach, it will face none other than Chatfield (last season’s 4A state champion) in a Week 1 game Aug. 26 at Jeffco Stadium. The Cougars have three other new non-league opponents in Rocky Mountain, Fort Collins and Castle View (which they face in a Week 5 Homecoming game), while they get a rematch with powerhouse Columbine (which dealt them a 52-21 loss last season) in Week 3 in another game at Jeffco Stadium. League play (5A League 4) begins in a big way with a Sept. 30 home game against two-time defending 5A state champion Cherry Creek. Cherokee Trail lost to the Bruins last season league play as well as Arapahoe and rival Grandview, which it faces back-to-back in weeks eight and nine. Eight of Cherokee Trail’s 2022 opponents qualified for the 5A or 4A playoffs last season and four of those (Cherry Creek, Columbine, Grandview and Arapahoe) made it to at least the quarterfinals. Last season: Cherokee Trail’s opponents had an impressive combined record of 76-44 in 2021.

Cherokee Trail schedule — Home games in all caps (played at Legacy Stadium unless otherwise noted): Friday, Aug. 26 — vs. Chatfield at Jeffco Stadium, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 2 — ROCKY MOUNTAIN, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 8 — vs. Columbine at Jeffco Stadium, 4 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 16 — FORT COLLINS, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 23 — CASTLE VIEW, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 30 — CHERRY CREEK, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 7 — vs. Eaglecrest at Legacy Stadium, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 13 — ARAPAHOE, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 21 — vs. Grandview at Legacy Stadium, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 27 — vs. Smoky Hill at Stutler Bowl, 7 p.m.

Eaglecrest meets rival Grandview in Week 6 of the 2022 prep football season in a game that is part of the Cherry Creek School District’s annual Military Appreciation event. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

EAGLECREST: The Raptors come into 2022 with a familiar face on the sideline as Mike Schmitt — who led the program to the Class 5A state championship game in 2017 — is back as head coach (story, here), while they will look to turn the page on a 1-9 season that saw them miss the playoffs for the first time since 2015. Eaglecrest has a completely different set of non-league opponents from 2021 — none of which qualified for the 5A postseason last year — and begin with Brighton in a Week 1 home contest Aug. 26 which is followed by two more games at Legacy Stadium against Horizon and Highlands Ranch. The Raptors went 0-5 against its five league opponents last season (all of whom made the postseason), so it will have motivation against each of them. The first 5A League 7 contest is set for Oct. 1 against rival Grandview in a game that will mark the Cherry Creek School District’s annual Military Appreciation Night, while another highlight in league play (which is every week) is an Oct. 14 visit to two-time defending 5A state champion Cherry Creek. Last season: Eaglecrest’s opponents had a combined record of 59-53 in 2021.

Eaglecrest schedule — Home games in all caps (played at Legacy Stadium unless otherwise noted): Friday, Aug. 26 — BRIGHTON, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 1 — HORIZON, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 8 — HIGHLANDS RANCH, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 16 — vs. Rocky Mountain at French Field, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 22 — vs. Lakewood at Lakewood Memorial, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 1 — GRANDVIEW (Military Appreciation Night), 6 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 7 — CHEROKEE TRAIL, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 14 — at Cherry Creek, 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 20 — vs. Smoky Hill at Stutler Bowl, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 28 — ARAPAHOE, 7 p.m.

Next up: Gateway, Grandview, Hinkley

Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

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