EIGHT-MAN FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK FOUR
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
As most leagues wrap up their final week of non-conference games, the calendar is dotted with interesting contests. None more so that the rematch of last year’s title game between Haxtun and Mancos. That’s one of two games between ranked teams this week.
#1 HAXTUN (2-0) VS #2 MANCOS (3-0) SATURDAY 1PM AT SOUTH PARK HS
Top-ranked Haxtun broke an 8-all tie after one quarter at Holly last Friday with 30 unanswered points in the second quarter. The Fightin’ Bulldogs added another 16 in the third and ran away with the 54-8 victory. Ryland Wolff ran for 165 yards and three scores, and Michael Gerk added 122 yards and a TD, plus a punt return for a score. Kailin Kelley led the defense with 15 tackles and a forced fumble, while Grant Statz recorded 11 stops and a pick-six.
Mancos had an easier than expected go of things in its clash with #9 Merino last Saturday, rolling the Rams by a 46-6 count. Ayden Matthews threw for 132 yards and two touchdowns, with Kail Wayman hauling in three passes for 126 yards and those two scores. He also ran for 125 yards and three touchdowns. Levi Martin added 100 yards and a rushing score. Martin also had one of two fumble recoveries by the Bluejay defense. Andrew Jaime led that unit with 21 tackles.
Last year”s 40-0 Haxtun win in the championship game was the first meeting between the two teams in the MaxPreps era. Haxtun picked off four passes in that contest.
#3 AKRON (3-0) VS HOLLY (1-1) FRIDAY 7PM
Akron rolled up close to 550 yards of offense in last week’s 50-8 win at Fowler, with 393 coming on the ground. Anderson Filla piled up 211 of those rushing yards on just 13 carries. He was one of four Rams with a score on the ground, with Ivan Losa, Wesley Couch, and Brock Swedlund also hitting paydirt. Ryan McCaffrey threw for 139 yards and three touchdowns. Losa caught two of those and went over 100 yards.
Holly struggled with the passing game against Haxtun, throwing a pair of picks and only accounting for 36 yards. The Wildcats did run for close to 250 yards, with Daunte Maldonado gaining 87 and scoring the lone TD. Andre Salgado added 81 yards, and Dominique Maldonado went for 48. Dylan Tamayo registered a team-high 11 tackles on the defensive side of things.
Akron won last year’s meeting in overtime, 36-30, on the road, and the Rams own wins in three of the four games played between the two sides. McCaffrey threw for 208 yards in that win, including a 79-yard TD to Losa.
#4 DOVE CREEK (3-0) AT HAYDEN (2-0) FRIDAY 7PM
Leading 38-28 at the half, Dove Creek blew last week’s game with Melrose (NM) wide open with three scores in the third. The Bulldogs went on to claim a 64-34 win over their out-of-state opponent. Kade Hankins did a good portion of the heavy lifting, running for 276 yards and three scores, and also throwing for 149 yards and two more touchdowns. The offensive line helped the Bulldogs run for 487 yards and seven scores. Gage Buffington was just short of 100 on the ground with three touchdowns. Cole Taber caught five passes for 71 yards and a TD, and Colten Fury, who had an interception, also caught a TD pass.
Hayden put the most points on the board in the classification last week, as the Tigers improved to 2-0 on the year with a 74-46 win over Wiley. Another win this week would give the program its first 3-0 start to a campaign since dropping to eight-man a decade ago.
These two have not played during the MaxPreps era.
#5 SIMLA (3-0) VS SEDGWICK COUNTY (1-2) FRIDAY 7PM
Simla’s defense has been extra stingy in the first three weeks of the season, having allowed a classification leading 14 points. That includes just eight last week in a 29-8 win at #7 Sanford. Caston Cox threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 107 to guide the Cubs to the win. Brayden Glover added a pair of scores on the ground. Jared Hodgson recovered a pair of fumbles that were forced by Treven Kochera, who had two sacks.
Sedgwick County struggled with ball security in last week’s 30-12 loss against Crowley County, as the Cougars turned it over five times. That included four interceptions. In their two losses this season, the Cougars have thrown five interceptions and lost four fumbles, and also have allowed close to an average of 300 rushing yards.
The Cougars have won the three previous meetings, including a 40-0 shutout back in 2019. They did not play the last two seasons.
#6 CROWLEY COUNTY (3-0) AT LAS ANIMAS (0-2) FRIDAY 7PM
Dillon Buford led the Chargers with 114 rushing yards and a pair of passing touchdowns in last week’s win at Sedgwick County. Noah Aguilar and CJ Acord were on the receiving end of those scoring passes, while Sam Parker and Skeeter Baker each scored in the ground game. Buford also accounted for two of the four interceptions on defense, with Acord and Byars Brown each having one. Case Buford recorded the fumble recovery.
Las Animas is coming off its bye week and the Trojans are looking for continued growth as the program works its way back into a contender. New coach Chuck Geisinger has been happy with how his young squad has fought through adversity during their first two games, noting that they have continued to fight to the end. Conan Tyler has scored both of the touchdowns for the Trojans this year.
Crowley County won last year’s meeting 56-0. It was the first between the two as eight-man programs.
#7 SANFORD (2-1) VS FOWLER (3-0) FRIDAY 6PM
Sanford allowed just over 400 total yards of offense in last week’s loss to Simla, and the Mustangs also gave up four sacks and two turnovers in suffering their first defeat of the season. They entered the contest averaging 33 points a game, but could only manage eight in the loss.
Fowler had higher expectations entering the season than the current 0-3 start. The Grizzlies have only scored a total of eight points over the last two weeks and for the season, they are allowing just under 500 yards per game. Turnovers have also been a problem for the Grizzlies, as they’ve surrendered the ball 10 times, including six lost fumbles.
The series between these two programs is split 2-2, but this will be the first meeting in more than a decade.
#8 WEST GRAND (3-0) AT ELBERT (2-1) FRIDAY 7PM
The Mustangs wasted little time in establishing its dominance last week against Belleview Christian, using a 30-0 first quarter to seize total control. They would go on to claim a 50-0 victory. Wyatt Howell powered the offense with 228 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Ollie Bergman added a pair of rushing scores, and Wyatt Shearer tossed two touchdown passes, as well. The Mustangs outgained the Bruins 551-31 in the contest, 452-20 on the ground.
Elbert was unbeaten heading into last week’s game at Caliche, but the Bulldogs ran into a Buffalo stampede. The Bulldogs were nearly doubled up in the 60-32 loss. They had outscored their first two opponents 100-25.
It’s been seven years since these two programs last met, with West Grand owning a 3-2 edge in the series.
#9 MERINO (2-1) VS #10 LYONS (3-0) FRIDAY 7PM
After having outscored their first two opponents 84-14, the Rams ran into a buzzsaw last week. Mancos racked up 411 yards of offense, 279 on the ground, in the 46-6 win. Merino allowed not one, but two 100-yard rushers in the contest.
Lyons went into last week’s game at Vail Christian looking for its first 3-0 start to an eight-man season. Tied at the half (8-8), the Lions leaned on their defense in the second half and came away with the 30-8 victory. Finn Oetting ran for 133 yards and three scores, and the Lions amassed 353 yards on the ground as a team. He also led the defense with a dozen tackles and two interceptions.
Merino eked out a 20-14 victory in last year’s clash, with Lyons scoring midway through the fourth quarter to make it a one score game. Oetting ran for 136 yards and two scores for the Lions, while Merino countered with 234 yards and two scores from Deacon Trenkle. That included a 99-yard TD.
Outside of the top-ten, Calhan (2-1) visits Wiley (1-1) on Friday in a game that could see the scoreboard light up. The Bulldogs pulled out a wild 46-42 win at Rangely last week, with Aiden Jack rushing for 400 yards and six touchdowns. He also racked up a game-high 27 tackles. Wiley has allowed 104 points in its first two games.