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Publish Date: 9/1/2005

Fans will get their first look at the new football field at Erie High School on Friday when the Tigers play host to rival Frederick in the season opener for both teams.Times-Call/Richard M. Hackett

Trojans to test mettle against Ft. Collins

LONGMONT — The general perception is that the Fort Collins High School football team is down this year.

Longmont coach Doug Johnson isn’t buying it.

Fort Collins is coming off its best season in years, as the Lambkins went 9-4 and reached the Class 5A state semifinals. A host of players from that team are gone, leading some to believe the Lambkins will take a dip.

“To be honest, I went up and scouted them last week and they were scrimmaging Green Mountain, a ranked 4A team, and I was extremely surprised at how good Collins was,” Johnson said.

That means Johnson and the Longmont Trojans have their work cut out for them tonight. Longmont plays host to Fort Collins at 7 p.m. today at Everly-Montgomery Field in the season opener for both squads.

“I was surprised at how good (the Lambkins) were, but I feel good about our team and feel good about these kids,” Johnson said.

For Longmont (7-4 in 2004), this is the start of a brutal stretch of games to begin the season. The Trojans play at Brighton on Sept. 9, followed by dates with Monarch, Loveland and Greeley West.

“We’re playing a great team (tonight) and it’s going to tell us right where we’re at,” Johnson said. “With the schedule we’re facing, we know what’s in front of us. We’re going to get a real quick determination of where we stand going into those next games.”

Longmont has several young players taking over at key positions, and tonight will be the first test for those players.

Among the individuals to keep an eye on for Longmont are: quarterback Dominic Aiello, running back David Finkel and tight end Greg Lehman, a returning starter who could be a great safety net for Aiello.

For Longmont to win, it has to control several parts of the game, including its emotions.

“The turnovers, the red zone, the penalty situations, the special teams and the composure are the things that are the keys,” Johnson said. “What kind of controls those keys is the line of scrimmage. (Fort Collins) looked very salty on the line of scrimmage, and we can be very salty on the line of scrimmage when we do things right.”

Longmont also has to contain a couple of versatile Fort Collins players tonight: safety/wide receiver Brian Bello, and linebacker/fullback Joe Friesman.

Skyline (4-6 in 2004) at Silver Creek (7-4), Friday, 7 p.m., at Everly-Montgomery Field: Skyline is already 0-1 this season following a 23-0 loss to Mountain Vista in Week Zero. That was a good Mountain Vista team, though, and the Falcons will come into this one hungry. Colton Lehl and Cody Ganz looked good on offense last week. Silver Creek nearly won this game last year, and want some revenge. The Raptors have a host of new players, but linebacker John McGee leads the defense, and quarterback Tyler Keith directs the offense.

Niwot (12-1) at Mountain View (3-7), today, 7 p.m., at Thompson Valley H.S.: Don’t let last year’s records fool you. This is going to be a stiff test for Niwot to begin the year. Mountain View, led by quarterback Shane Sexton and running back Jake Walkowicz, are expected to be much better this season. Niwot will depend on Nathan Dorzweiler and a host of others to get the Cougars off to a good start.

Frederick (2-8) at Erie (2-7), Friday, 7 p.m., at Erie H.S.: If nothing else, this one will be fun because Erie unveils its new stadium. The Tigers are also loaded with young talent, led by receiver Mike Rahrich and running back Jared Baros. Frederick is anxious to get off to a good start, and there’s no better way than by winning this game. David Baldwin and Tristan Reynolds are a couple players to watch.

Lyons (6-3) at Peyton (3-5), Friday, 7 p.m., at Peyton H.S.: Peyton has just four starters back from last year, but the Panthers are already off to a good start, beating Wiggins, 16-13, in Week Zero. They are led by quarterback/defensive back Chris Correl. Despite Peyton’s win last week, Lyons is one of Class 1A’s best teams and has a good chance to get a big win and start the season right. The Lions are led by junior quarterback Sam Stall, running back/defensive back Jake Becker, and running back/linebacker/kicker Sam Fortier.

DeBeque (3-5) at Longmont Christian (7-2), Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Sandstone Ranch: This is setting up to be an easy win for Longmont Christian. DeBeque is on its third coach in three years and the Dragons have never made the playoffs. Quarterback/defensive back Seth Counts and running back/linebacker Connor Kline could make some noise for the Dragons, but the Warriors should roll. Mark Powers had a big game in leading Longmont Christian past Faith Baptist last week in Week Zero.

Mountain Valley (7-4) at Faith Baptist (8-0), Saturday, 1 p.m., at Faith Baptist H.S.: Faith Baptist had its 34-game win streak snapped last week, and the Pioneers are ready to begin again. Mountain Valley, though, could be a stiff test. The Indians won the A-8 man Mountain League title last year and return six starters on offense and defense. They also run the ball well with Richie Williams and Kyle Maez. Faith Baptist is talented across the board and could avoid a second straight loss with big performances from Michael Lingar, Ben Senn, and others.

Centaurus (11-1) at Denver West (1-9), Friday, 7 p.m., at All-City Stadium: Pressure? Centaurus is ranked No. 1 in 3A by one Denver paper, and No. 3 by the other. Despite playing a 5A team, Centaurus should prove worthy of that ranking behind quarterback Dillon Sanders, tight end/linebacker Waylon Lolotai and running backs Tommy Campbell and Alex Gomez. Denver West does returning a lot of starters, and has a promising quarterback in Angelo Valenzuela.

Holy Family (12-1) at Machebeuf (0-9), Saturday, 7 p.m., at Aurora Public Stadium: These two teams are in different worlds right now. Holy Family is one of the best teams in Class 2A, and has the best running back tandem (Koehler Anderson and Tim Stockhausen) in the state. Machebeuf is guided by new coach Tom Tesone (brother of Niwot head coach Ron Tesone), who has had past success at Ranum. Machebeuf is led by wide receiver/linebacker Nick Cafasso.

Brian Howell can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 298, or by e-mail at bhowell@times-call.com.

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