You won’t find a bigger Class 4A football game in Northern Colorado until the playoffs begin.
Two powerhouse teams in Windsor, which is ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press media poll, and No. 2 Longmont will clash Thursday in an important Longs Peak Conference game at Longmont High School.
The game will deal one of the teams its first loss of the season, isolate a conference frontrunner and add fuel to the fire that has become a rivalry over the past four years.
Both programs have excelled this year, setting arguably the toughest game of the regular season on each side.
Here are three keys to the game, which is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m., for the Wizards:
Containing Conlan Berger: The Trojans’ leading rusher is having quite the season in his senior-year campaign.
Berger has rushed for 776 yards, 13 touchdowns and has accounted for 102 total points through six games — all of which lead the conference statistics.
Windsor’s defense will need to find a way to shut down Berger, who is averaging nearly 130 yards per contest, to give its offense a chance to win the game.
Berger, meet Windsor’s defense: On the flip side to Longmont’s impressive offensive performance, Windsor’s defense has been executing just as sharp.
The Wizards boast the conference’s total tackles and sack leader in Corte Tapia, who heads each with 74 and 3.5, respectively. Windsor’s Storm Fox is also directly behind Tapia with three sacks, in second.
Either Longmont’s offense, which yields 44.5 points per game, or Windsor’s defense, which allows 7.5, will prove to be the greater force.
Home field not exactly an advantage: In their last three matchups, both teams have proved playing at home doesn’t guarantee a win when they meet.
The Wizards spoiled the Trojans’ homecoming in their first meeting in 2012.
Longmont then returned the favor twice in a row at Dudley Field, most recently in a comeback 33-32 win last season.
The road team has gone 3-0 since 2012, although location shouldn’t be much of a factor for squads of this caliber.
For live game updates, follow sports reporter Quentin Sickafoose at twitter.com/QSickafoose.