Class 2A 1st Round Playoff Breakdown
This will be a bit shorter due to traveling but I wanted to at least dive into each playoff game a bit. I will go into more depth in the quarterfinal’s breakdown.
#1 Bayfield vs #16 Montezuma-Cortez
The seeding committee had a hard time getting a non-league opponent for Montezuma-Cortez but in the end, they settled on keeping teams close to home and having a rematch. Bayfield beat Montezuma-Cortez during the regular season 39-3 but as we know once we get into the playoffs anything can happen. Bayfield will have to contend with an improved passing attack from Montezuma-Cortez. Montezuma-Cortez will need for force Hayden Farmer to beat them and must slow down David Hawkins and Bayfield solid rushing offense. I am going with Bayfield in this game, but it could be closer than the regular season matchup.
#8 Kent Denver vs #9 Faith Christian
The regular season rematches continue in the 8 vs 9 game. Both teams won their respective leagues, and both played each other during the regular season. Kent Denver took that matchup 23-17 and another closer game is in order. I expect Joey Licht of Kent Denver to be heavily involved in the offense and Kent Denver defense must come to play against a balanced offensive attack. Faith Christian must have a solid game from Isaiah Kroll if they plan to keep their rushing attack open. David Nagy could have a huge impact, but I think they key will lie in Isaiah Kroll. I am going with Kent Denver in this rematch, but I expect another very close game.
#4 La Junta vs #13 Berthoud
Two teams playing good football collide in what could be a very good game. Berthoud was #17 in the RPI entering the final week of the season. Berthoud had to upset Eaton go get into the playoffs and they did just that upsetting Eaton 34-19. Berthoud defense is to credit forcing 3 interceptions and taking advantage of all 3 turnovers. Berthoud will need QB Brennen Garvin to step up his game this week as they face one of the best defenses in Class 2A. La Junta pushed through the Tri-Peaks league schedule only being challenged by Lamar (34-21). La Junta also made a statement early in the season with their 34-0 win over Kent Denver. La Junta has plenty of experience plus have player of the year candidate Jon Nuschy leading the show. La Junta defensively will face a tough offensive team and a team who defense has really elevated to the situation. This should be a good game and I am going with La Junta in a good game.
#5 Salida vs #12 Aspen
The 5 vs 12 game is were a lot of upsets happen and this matchup will be very intriguing. Aspen finished 3rd in the Western Slope losing their final game of the year to Basalt. Aspen is a pass heavy team and have a solid sophomore QB Tyler Ward. Ward led all 2A passers with 2,269 yards and 27 TDs. Aspen must get solid production for their QB but also must get needed production on the ground. Aspen made the playoffs last year and learned that it takes a lot to snag a playoff victory. Aspen defensively must stop the run and cannot be pushed around. Salida enters the game needing to bounce back after falling just short to Bayfield 22-14. Salida was winning at halftime 14-0 but gave up 22 unanswered points. Salida will be hoping to bounce back and grab a playoff win. Their secondary will be tested by a pass heavy team and if they struggle stopping the pass they will need their offense to pick up the slack. Salida need Vince Deleo to step up if they plan to advance into the quarterfinals. I am going with Salida in this game, but defense will be key in this game.
#3 Basalt vs #14 D’Evelyn
Basalt vs D’Evelyn features two defenses that have played well this season. D’Evelyn has played well on defense all year but turnovers have cost this team. D’Evelyn finished second in the Flatirons league dropping their season finally to Faith Christian 21-7. D’Evelyn offensively did have success throwing the ball passing for 287 yards but defensively had no answer to stopping the run. D’Evelyn will have to fix that problem this week if they plan to pull the upset. D’Evelyn also must get some sort of rushing attack going to keep the pressure off QB Evan Willis. Basalt enters the playoffs with some momentum and a joint Western Slope league title. Basalt beat Aspen in their final and have experience against a pass heavy team. Basalt limited Aspen to just 148 yards passing and 1 interception. Basalt defensively will need a similar effort this week as they face another passing team. Basalt offensively must get their rushing game going to open room for their passing attack. I expect Jake Reardon to have a big part if Basalt wins this game. D’Evelyn is not a normal 14 seed and this should be a very good game. I am going with Basalt due to their defense.
#6 Platte Valley vs #11 Delta
The 6 vs 11 matchups are always the talk when you mention upsets. This 6 vs 11 matchup is an interesting one as Platte Valley and Delta are two teams that I think were mis seeded. Platte Valley won the Patriot East League which was way down this year. Platte Valley non-league schedule though proved how tough this team is. Platte Valley non-league wins were over Berthoud, Elizabeth, and Eaton. Platte Valley could have been seeded much higher, but their league schedule hurt their RPI. Platte Valley realistically I think is a #2 or #3 seed but are one of the teams who have a chip on their shoulder after losing to Eaton in the quarterfinals last year. Platte Valley must be ready for a balanced offensive attack and must get QB Trevor Wehrman going. Delta comes into the playoffs finishing 3rd in the Western Slope. Delta at times has looked like a top team nearly beating Salida and Basalt. Delta with QB Nolan Bynum makes this offense much more lethal. Delta offense opens way up when Bynum is on his game and the ability to pass makes Delta a tough team to play against. Delta will give Platte Valley all they can handle but their defense will have to step up. I am going with Platte Valley in this game.
#7 Rifle vs #10 Eaton
The #7 vs #10 matchup is usually one of the best games of the first round and the seeding committee did well with Rifle and Eaton facing off. Eaton finished third in the Patriot West League. They dropped their final to Berthoud and turnover really hurt their offense. Eaton relies on their defense in games and their offense must take care of the football. Eaton has relied on their balanced offensive attack and QB Scott Grable and RB Ty Garnhart must have monster games on both sides of the ball. Defensively Eaton has proven they play with anyone, but their rush defense must come to play this week. Rifle had a great season splitting the Western Slope League championship with Basalt. Rifle is a run heavy team led by RB Tanner Vines. Rifle must get their rushing attack established or will be in huge trouble. Rifle defensively has played well all year giving up just 110 points. They will have to be ready for a balanced offensive attack and their defense must come to play. I think this could turn into a defensive slugfest and I do think whichever teams establishes the run first wins this game. I am going with Eaton to pull the upset being able pass the ball will open their running game where Rifle is more one dimensional, but this will be a good game.
#2 Resurrection Christian vs #15 Alamosa
The #2 vs #15 matchup last year had the biggest upset and Alamosa will be hoping to replicate what Resurrection Christian did last year. Alamosa got into the playoffs upsetting Pagosa Springs. Alamosa has QB John Lujan back just in time for the playoffs and he showed he can help open the offense up passing for over 150 yards. Lujan will be key to keeping the running game going as they face one of the best defenses in 2A. Alamosa defensively will have to step up. They are not facing a team with 1 standout player but with several players contributing to the offense. Alamosa need their defense to play outstanding because their offense will be challenged. Resurrection Christian is coming off a great season finishing 1st in the Patriot West League. Resurrection Christian gave up just 62 points all season and have plenty of playoff experience coming back. Resurrection Christian defensively must be ready for a more balanced offense with Alamosa QB coming back. The Cougars also must get their offense established as Alamosa has improved defensively as well. Resurrection Christian cannot overlook any opponent and they now this from last year when they pulled the upset. I am going with Resurrection Christian in this game.