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Prairie View, Brighton cast eyes on greener conference pastures

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By Steve Smith

BRIGHTON — Brighton and Prairie View high schools will remain in the relatively weak Eastern Metro Athletic Conference for another two years.

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Both schools’ athletic directors know what they would like to see afterward, though. They’d like to be in a stronger conference.

“I don’t want to be disrespectful to our neighbors to the south,” said BHS athletic director Todd Potestio, the 27J district representative to the Colorado High School Activities Association, which decides on such things as league alignment. 

“In order for Brighton to be better, we have to have better feeder programs, our programs have to play year-round, and we need to be playing bigger schools and better competition,” he said.

Prairie View athletic director Heath Wilson concurred.

“We have the capability to compete against teams out of our conference,” he said. “A lot of times, our fall down is not playing against that level of competition week in and week out. We need more of that.”

The schools applied to be in the Front Range Conference. After Greeley Central dropped to class 4A, based on enrollment figures, the league had room for one of the two Brighton schools. Superintendent Chris Fiedler said both schools had to join the conference.

“Will we make a push? Most certainly,” Potestio said. “If it’s not the Front Range League, then maybe we’ll form a Flatirons Conference using schools along (state) Highway 7. There are a lot of schools where we could travel little distances.”

Potestio wasn’t optimistic that Greeley Central would return to class 5A in two years’ time.

“Kids are leaving Greeley,” he said. “If we build a third high school, that one could come in and be class 5A immediately. It would give us more bargaining power.”

Because the EMAC is so weak, Brighton and Prairie View tend to fatten up their non-conference lineups. It helped Brighton earned a top-10 seed in the state 5A baseball playoffs in the spring.

“That’s the most important part of the schedule,” Potestio said. “Look at our softball team. We played the defending state champs (Legacy), then we played the No. 1 team in the state (Douglas County).” Brighton split the two games. 

“When you get past the non-league games at the beginning of the year, you get into a long streak of conference play. Then you get into state level,” Wilson said. “You lose that practice of playing the tougher schools because of the conference schedule.”

Potestio also noted it would take a considerable amount of lobbying for both schools to make a conference move in two years.

“We need to quit looking at one another,” he said. “We need to be lifting each other up. If you beat the rival, it’s something that happens along the way. The brass ring is when the sport that you are in beats an elite team."

 

Contact Sports Editor Steve Smith at ssmith@metrowestnewspapers.com.