EIGHT-MAN FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK THREE
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
Most leagues are halfway through the non-conference portion of their schedules, but there are still some huge match-ups before divisional contests begin. Highlighting the week three calendar are three clashes between teams ranked in the top ten of the coaches poll, and a handful of others that could potentially go to the wire. (Rankings used are from the coaches poll)
#1 HAXTUN (1-0) AT #8 HOLLY (1-0) FRIDAY 6PM
The defending state champions stepped up in classification to face 1A Holyoke in their opener last week. The Fightin’ Bulldogs opened a 28-18 halftime advantage and went on to win the 11-man contest by a score of 50-32. The offensive line helped pave the way to 275 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. Ryland Wolff led the attack with 107 yards and two scores, and also threw for 104 yards. Michael Gerk added 88 yards and a TD rushing, plus 94 yards receiving, 34 passing, and 107 on kick returns. Kailin Kelly registered a team-high 12 tackles and a pick-six, while Maclin Tempel recovered a fumble that was forced by Gerk.
Holly had last week off after opening the year with a 44-8 win over Custer County. Most of the damage in that contest was done on the ground, with Daunte Maldonado running for 107 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries. Jessie Pizarro (74 yards, one TD), Andre Salgado (66 yards, 2 TD), and Dominique Maldonado (64 yards) powered the ground attack that racked up 330 yards.
This is the third straight year that the two squads have met, with Haxtun taking a 46-26 decision in the semifinals last season. Kyle Fryrear played a huge role for Haxtun in that victory, hauling in four passes for 137 yards and a TD. The Fightin’ Bulldogs came up with six takeaways, including four interceptions. The teams have split four previous meetings, dating back to 2004.
#2 MANCOS (2-0) VS #6 MERINO (2-0) SATURDAY 1PM AT SOUTH PARK HS
Through the first two weeks of the season, the defending runners-up had dominated a pair of out-of-state foes, including a 52-13 win over Monticello (UT) last week. Ayden Matthews threw for 137 yards and three scores in that win, and Kail Wayman ran for 199 and three more touchdowns. The Bluejays, who also got six takeaways (one scoop and score by Brandon Vannest), had the mercy clock rolling midway through the third quarter. As a team, Mancos is averaging 333 rushing yards a game, and another 111.5 passing. Defensively, they’ve allowed 21 points to date.
Merino saw McClave march down the field on its opening possession last week and score a TD for the first points allowed by the Rams on the season. The Rams then rolled up nearly 500 yards on the ground as they pulled away for a 40-14 victory. They have outscored their first two opponents 84-14.
These two powerhouses have met four times in the last five years, including a 49-8 Bluejay victory last year. Wayman had two total touchdowns in that win, and Matthews added one on the ground and two passing. Deacon Trenkle accounted for all of Merino’s scoring, running for a TD and adding the PAT run. Mancos has won three of the four recent meetings.
#3 AKRON (2-0) AT FOWLER (0-2) FRIDAY 7PM
Akron pitched a shutout of St. Mary’s last week, 40-0, with Anderson Filla running for 118 yards and two scores, while also hauling in one of Ryan McCaffrey’s three TD passes Jackson Filla and Tucker Stahn had the others. Stahn also had one of the Rams’ three sacks, with Caleb Poss and Anthony Benavidez each recording one. Akron outgained the Pirates 471-132 in the contest.
Fowler had a tough time stopping the Simla offense last week, with the Cubs racking up 406 yards, 203 in both passing and rushing in the 35-0 win over the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies have been outscored 79-34 through their first two games.
Akron snapped a three-game skid in the series with last year’s 41-0 win at home. That was scoreless after one quarter. Ivan Losa ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns on three carries in the victory, while Erick Hernandez went for 138 for Fowler. Dating back to 2012, the Rams own a 6-3 edge in the series.
#4 SANFORD (2-0) VS #7 SIMLA (2-0) FRIDAY 6PM
For the second straight week, Sanford took on a ranked opponent and came away victorious, as the Mustangs earned a 32-14 road win over Swink in week two. They’ll be looking to go three-for-three, as they host Simla this week. Sanford has outscored its first two foes 66-34.
As mentioned earlier, Simla utilized a balanced attack on offense, coupled with a suffocating defense, to earn its win over Fowler last week. Caston Cox threw for 203 yards and two scores, one each to Treven Kochera and Brent Bowker, while TJ Eurich ran for 113 yards and a TD. Brayden Glover reached paydirt twice on the ground. Bowker recorded three sacks for the Cubs, who had five as a team, and also snagged three takeaways.
Sanford used a 40-point fourth quarter to come from behind in last year’s 74-50 victory in Simla. The Mustangs ran for 493 yards and 10 scores, but most of that came from the departed Kelton Gartrell, who had 412 yards and nine touchdowns. Cox paced Simla with 170 yards and three passing touchdowns, and 101 yards and a TD rushing.
#5 DOVE CREEK (2-0) VS MELROSE, NM (2-1)
After unleashing a rushing attack that amassed 421 yards and seven touchdowns on 43 carries in last week’s 60-2 win over Rangely, Dove Creek will host an out-of-state opponent this week. Gage Buffington (133 yards) and Kendall Gardner (104 yards) both went over the century mark last week, with three touchdowns between them, while Cole Taber (74) and Kade Hankins (69) combined for 143 yards and three more scores.
The Melrose offense will have to contend with a Bulldog defense that racked up nine sacks last week, three by Quaden Huffaker and two apiece from Colten Fury and Gaige Cressler. Gardner secured first first two fumble recoveries of the season last week, too.
Dove Creek was supposed to face Melrose last season, but the squad from New Mexico had to surrender a forfeit. It will be a bit of a measuring stick opportunity for the Bulldogs, as their division rival, Mancos, defeated Melrose 46-8 in week one.
#9 CROWLEY COUNTY (2-0) AT SEDGWICK COUNTY (1-1) FRIDAY 7PM
Crowley County backed up its week one win over McClave with a 36-0 shutout of Byers last week. The Chargers controlled the clock with their running game, posting 367 yards on 62 carries. Skeeter Baker (116 yards) and Dillon Buford (103 yards) both gashed the Bulldogs for more than 100 yards in the win. Buford added a punt return for a TD, and Baker led everyone with 15 tackles.
Sedgwick County bounced back from a season opening loss to an opponent from Nebraska to defeat Hoehne 42-22 last week. The Cougars led 14-8 at the half, but really got things rolling after the intermission to claim their seventh straight win over the Farmers.
The Cougars will be looking to earn a second consecutive win over Crowley County, after beating the Chargers 45-12 in the quarterfinals of the playoffs in 2020. That’s the only previous meeting between the two programs.
#10 WEST GRAND (2-0) VS BELLEVIEW CHRISTIAN (2-0) FRIDAY 7PM
Having opened the season with a shutout at home, West Grand took to the road last week and earned a hard-fought 40-20 win over Calhan by outscoring the Bulldogs 14-0 in the fourth quarter. Wyatt Howell was a big reason why the Mustangs came out on top, running for 223 yards and three scores, and adding another TD as a receiver. The senior also registered an interception on defense. Wyatt Shearer was on the throwing end of Howell’s receiving touchdown, and he also ran for more than 100 yards with a TD, and led the Mustangs with 17 tackles.
Belleview Christian has been very impressive in the early going, outscoring its opponents 106-6. That includes the first home win in more than five years, as the Bruins downed South Park 60-0 last week. Collin Polson was nearly perfect throwing the ball last week, completing 10 of 12 attempts for 276 yards and six scores. Matthew Norman was the big play threat, catching three passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns, while Brandon Ewing snagged five balls for 95 yards and three touchdowns.
With Belleview Christian not having a program following the 2017 campaign until this year, this is the first meeting between the Bruins and West Grand.
Saturday’s schedule has three match-ups of undefeated teams, beginning with Lyons (2-0) visiting Vail Christian (1-0). The Lions are looking for a 3-0 start, and to do so, they have to avenge last year’s 50-20 loss to Vail Christian. The Saints had last week off after beating Dolores Huerta Prep in week one.
Elbert (2-0) is also in search of a 3-0 beginning to the season and the Bulldogs will visit Caliche (1-0). This could be a high scoring affair, with Elbert coming in averaging 50 points a game and the Buffs having posted 48 in their week one victory over Rangely. Caliche won the only previous meeting, way back in 2010.
Finally, Wiley (1-0) visits Hayden (1-0) with both teams aiming for a 2-0 start. Wiley got off to a slow start last week, but came on strong to beat John Mall 50-30. Cade Phillips hit on 35 of 43 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns, with a pair of interceptions. Hayden’s defense limited Plateau Valley to 186 yards of total offense in a 58-12 win over the Cowboys last week. This is the first meeting between the Panthers and Tigers during the MaxPreps era, and it will be played at Gilpin County.