As the coronavirus pandemic rages, the end of Colorado’s fall prep football season could literally come at any time.
Five weeks into the planned six-week regular season, several teams in multiple classifications have been besieged by quarantines and restrictions in certain areas of the state ended things for a few teams.
Optimistically, however, the Colorado High School Activities Association’s plan is still to go forward with the last week of the regular season with the bracket for the eight-team Class 5A state playoffs due out Nov. 15.
“Every day something changes,” veteran Cherokee Trail coach Joe Johnson mused after his team’s big 28-23 victory over rival Grandview Nov. 6 at Legacy Stadium.
“I’m just sailing into the darkness off the edge of the map, trying not to run into anything,” he added.
The map got slightly clearer — at least as far as the postseason is concerned — as CHSAA released the current standings for 5A using its qualification formula, which blends Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), the CHSAANow.com Coaches Poll, Packard Rankings and MaxPreps Rankings into an equally-weighted formula.
In the currently crunched numbers, two Aurora teams — of the six that are active in the fall season — sit in top-eight positions going into the final games, Eaglecrest (4-0) at No. 4 and 4-1 Regis Jesuit at No. 8. Two other city teams sit just on the outside in Johnson’s No. 9 Cherokee Trail team and No. 10 Grandview.
Eaglecrest originally had its final two games canceled because of quarantine after two students at the school tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of October, but the Raptors were able to reschedule their Week 6 contest against top-ranked and undefeated Cherry Creek.
By virtue of playing the four required games — and winning them all — Eaglecrest’s place in the playoff bracket is assured for all intents and purposes, but the result against the Bruins in a game scheduled for 1 p.m. Nov. 14 at Legacy Stadium is likely to have an impact on the position of teams in the bracket, especially if coach Shawn Marsh’s team prevails.
Regis Jesuit — which downed Doherty 42-10 in Week 5 in its final home game — is currently on the outer edge of the playoff field in the No. 8 spot and is the only team currently in the top eight of the index with a loss. The Raiders’ lone defeat, however, came to Legend, which is currently 5-0 and holds the No. 3 spot.
Coach Danny Filleman’s team is scheduled to conclude the regular season with a 6 p.m. Nov. 14 trip to Garry Berry Stadium in Colorado Springs to take on Pine Creek, which has played only three of a possible five games after missing the first two weeks due to quarantine. The Eagles, the defending 4A state champions, sit No. 6 spot in the 4A playoff standings and will also be looking for a win to cement their position in the postseason.
Cherokee Trail (3-2) is currently on the outside looking in and may stay that way even after the final week is complete.
The surging Cougars — who have won three games in a row after losing to undefeated teams Eaglecrest and Cherry Creek in the first two weeks — finish the regular season against Overland, which is still searching for its first win of the season and won’t statistically provide a boost to Cherokee Trail’s postseason hopes regardless of a victory.
“We definitely need some help to get in, but all it takes is a team coming up with too many COVID cases, so you never know,” Johnson said.
With that very real possibility, CHSAA said any qualifying team that goes into quarantine before the playoff bracket is finalized will be replaced by the next-highest rated team, while any that go into quarantine after the bracket is released will be given a forfeit.
The Cougars’ Week 5 win may have made it more likely the 5A postseason will be without Grandview for the first time since 2004.
Coach John Schultz’s Wolves stand at 2-3 after completing Centennial League play, in which they lost a one-point decision to Eaglecrest and fell to Cherokee Trail by five.
Grandview’s Week 6 opponent changed from Fossil Ridge to Horizon due to quarantine, but it would need help even with a win over the 1-4 Hawks.
Smoky Hill (2-3) won the Wagon Wheel traveling trophy with an action-packed 49-39 victory against Overland in Week 5 and closes out the regular season against Arapahoe (2-3) in Centennial League play.
The Buffaloes might have had a chance to make the playoffs for a third straight season in the typical 16-team format, but have too many teams in front of them to make the eight-team bracket. They face Fossil Ridge in a Week 7 non-qualifier game.
Note: CHSAA announced Nov. 11 that championship games in all seven classifications are scheduled to be played on the campus of Colorado State-Pueblo.