SIX-MAN FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK FIVE
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
Huge match-ups abound this week in six-ma, with three that feature clashes between teams in the top-10 of the RPI. On top of that, there’s one with a highly-ranked team stepping up to take on the top team in eight-man.
#1 STRATTON (4-0) AT HI-PLAINS (1-2) FRIDAY 7:30PM
Through the first four weeks, top-ranked Stratton (1st RPI) faced four ranked teams. The Eagles got the running clock against all four. That includes last week’s 76-34 win over then #3 Genoa-Hugo. Behind Alex Cruz, the Eagles scored on all seven first half possessions. The front line opened gaping holes for Cruz, who scored five of his six rushing touchdowns in the half, and also had a 74-yard TD catch. Overall, Stratton would score on 10 of 11 possessions in the contest. Cruz ended up running for 226 yards and those six scores, on just 13 carries, and also had four catches for 112 yards. Cyler Notter, Avery Archuleta, and Stockton Fye all had rushing touchdowns. Carlos Sanza converted eight of nine PAT kicks, with his lone miss breaking a streak of 15 straight makes to begin his career.
They say that a win is a win, but the first of the season for Hi-Plains (28th RPI) came in a way that left an emptiness in everyone. Tied at six in the first half with Flagler, the Patriots saw one of the Panthers go down with what was later deemed to be a concussion. That left the Panthers with too few players to continue and Hi-Plains took a forfeit victory. They are big underdogs in this contest, but the new coaching staff will focus on giving full effort on every play and showing growth with their young squad.
#2 FLEMING (3-0) AT A8 #1 HAXTUN (3-0) FRIDAY 7:30PM
Fleming (2nd RPI) hasn’t been on the field since week two, when the Wildcats beat Idalia 44-6. They took a forfeit win over Granada in week three and then had their scheduled bye last week. Braylen Feather has thrown for 424 yards and eight touchdowns. Nolan Japp and Harry Harms each have three TD receptions, and Wyatt Cochran has the other two. Cochran is the top target with eight catches and 153 yards. Japp is the leading rusher with 174 yards. Feather already has six interceptions on defense.
It’s been an interesting start to the season for the defending champs. Haxtun opened with an 11-man game against Holyoke, followed by clashes with a pair of wins over ranked 8-man opponents, and will now face a six-man foe in an eight-man contest. The Fightin’ Bulldogs led Mancos 22-0 at halftime last week, and were up 36-0 after three quarters, thanks in part to a 95-yard pick-six by Michael Gerk. Gerk also led the ground attack with 106 yards and a TD. Ryland Wolff ran for 81 yards and a score, while also throwing for 166 yards and two more touchdowns. Kyle Fryrear caught two passes for 105 and a TD, Keegan Colglazier caught the other TD, and Grant Statz scored twice in the running game.
Kailin Kelley led five defenders in double digit tackles with 14. Maclin Tempel added 11, three of them being sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Gerk added a fumble recovery to his interception, and Kaiden Schelling had a pair of interceptions.
These two played last year, also in an eight-man contest, with Haxtun posting a 46-0 shutout. Kelley ran for one score and Colglazier caught one. Fleming only had 60 yards of offense, with Japp running for 44 of them.
#3 ARICKAREE (4-0) AT #5 GENOA-HUGO (3-1) SATURDAY 2PM
Arickaree (3rd RPI) had to play the first quarter of last week’s game with Briggsdale without the services of Logan Wright due to a slight injury. The Bison struggled offensively, but led 7-0 on a TD pass from Nic Hermes to Jake King and a one-point conversion. Wright stepped in early in the second quarter and guided three scoring drives to help build a 29-6 halftime lead. Briggsdale made adjustments at the half and slowed the Arickaree attack and got to within 35-20 heading to the fourth, but the Bison made their own adjustments and put the game away with three touchdowns. They took the 59-20 victory. Wright finished with 265 yards and six touchdowns on the ground and 47 yards plus a TD passing, with Bryce Shaffer hauling it in. Zarron Skubal led the defense with 15 tackles, three sacks, four forced fumbles, and two recoveries. Austin Wright added 14 tackles, three sacks, and a fumble recovery, while Hayden Page had a sack, and King ended up with a pick and a recovery.
The defeat on the scoreboard at Stratton wasn’t the biggest loss for Genoa-Hugo (5th RPI). Late in the first half, Konner Rowden-Stum went down following a big hit on a reception near midfield. He would be taken off on a stretcher and evaluated at the hospital and eventually diagnosed with a concussion. His availability for this game is dependent upon testing on Friday. Prior to his injury, he had caught six passes for 87 yards and a TD. In his absence, older brother, Kyler, became the top target, hauling in six balls for 116 yards and two scores. Trey Smith threw for 311 yards and those three scores. Defensively, Kyler forced a fumble and recovered it.
The last time these two programs met was in the 2018 playoffs, when Arickaree was part of the co-op with Woodlin. Genoa-Hugo lost that one 56-7.
#4 OTIS (4-0) VS LA VETA (4-0) FRIDAY 3PM
Otis (6th RPI) used a big second quarter to gain separation from Idalia last Thursday and earn a 46-26 victory over the Wolves. Leading 8-0 after the first quarter, the Bulldogs outscored the Wolves 22-6 in the second and never looked back. The big blow was a long pick-six by Taylor Ringlein on a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. It swung the momentum fully behind the Bulldogs. Tayte Smith nearly went for 200 yards on the ground, as the talented sophomore piled up 198 yards and four touchdowns. Charlie Kendrick added 74 yards and a TD. That duo each had a takeaway on defense, with Smith picking off a pass and Kendrick recovering a fumble.
It’s hard to believe that a team putting up the numbers that La Veta (8th RPI) has been accumulating this season could fly under the radar, but that has been the case for the Redhawks. They are one of only two undefeated teams outside of the top-ten in the coaches poll, along with Cotopaxi, but they can climb in with a win this week. They are coming off a 71-40 win over Primero last week and are averaging just under 65 points a game. Joe Autry has been having a special season, leading the team with 509 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing, and 22 catches for 430 yards and eight scores. He’s been the favorite target for Jessey Montunnas and Brayden Nix, who have combined to throw for 769 yards and 16 touchdowns. Gabe Vigil and Tobin Parker each have six sacks to pace the defense.
#6 GRANADA (2-2) VS #7 CHEYENNE WELLS (2-2) FRIDAY 7PM
After having to forfeit in week three due to injuries, Granada (4th RPI) returned with a vengeance last week. Along with Walsh, the Bobcats were part of a number of performances that caused CHSAA to break out the record book and make some adjustments. No fewer than seven new entries were made after the Bobcats posted a 102-74 victory. The combined tally was the third most in state history. Brandon Gonzales threw for 256 yards and eight touchdowns, with John Hainer snagging three scoring tosses and Terrance Hainer grabbing two. The Bobcats led 68-38 at the half, and those 68 points were the sixth most by a team in one half. The two teams combined for more than 1100 yards from scrimmage.
Cheyenne Wells (9th RPI) has bounced back from its 0-2 start, winning its last two games by a combined tally of 98-22. Last week, the Tigers got a big 36-14 win over Cheraw in the South East division, with Ty Scheler running for 95 yards and two scores, and Blake Gilmore adding 85 yards and a TD running and 52 yards with another TD through the air. However, Gilmore would suffer a broken collarbone in the contest. That injury will put more pressure on upperclassmen such as Scheler, who had 15 tackles, and Perry Chadwick, who recorded his first interception of the season in the win.
The Tigers have won two of the three meetings between the teams in six-man, including the last two. Those were by a combined score of 153-56. Granada won the first meeting in a shootout, 80-64.
#8 EADS (3-1) VS CHERAW (1-3) FRIDAY 7PM
After dropping the season opener to Genoa-Hugo, Eads (7th RPI) has put three straight wins on the board. The latest was a 68-32 decision up the road against Kit Carson. Bo Arnold completed eight of nine passes for more than 200 yards and three scores, with Conner Wollert, Keenan Smith, and Stockton Mitchek each catching one. Smith ended up with 106 yards on three grabs. Porter Spady powered the running game with 182 yards and four touchdowns on only 11 touches. Mitchek added 82 yards and two scores. The Eagles offset two lost fumbles with four recoveries by their defense.
Last week’s loss to Cheyenne Wells was the third straight for Cheraw (18th RPI) and the schedule just doesn’t get any easier this week. Braeden Harris was a bright spot on offense last week for the Wolverines, running for 134 yards, including a 64-yard TD. The defense came up with four takeaways, two fumble recoveries by Wade Goodrich, and interceptions by Tim Provost and Braden Stoker. Special teams got in on the act, with Trenton Rader returning a kick-off 40 yards for a score.
The Wolverines snapped what was at least a 14-game losing streak to the Eagles with a 66-6 victory last year. Provost secured two of the six takeaways by Cheraw in the game, and Rader scored on a pick-six.
#9 DEER TRAIL (4-0) AT KIOWA (2-2) SATURDAY 1PM
With a 70-0 blasting of Manzanola last week, Deer Trail (12th RPI) matched its victory total from last season, and the Eagles look primed to keep adding to that tally. Elvin Castro scored on four of his six rushing attempts and Dominik Mingee added a pair of receiving touchdowns from Raul Manriquez. Castro also had a kick return for a TD. Mingee registered an interception and a safety, while Gerardo Velazquez had a pair of fumble recoveries.
The rollercoaster season for Kiowa (27th RPI) was back on the high last week, as the Indians evened their record with a 48-20 win over Miami-Yoder. Leo Kuhn threw a pair of touchdowns, one each to Paulino Lupercio and Zayden Kalisch, and he also ran for 101 yards and another TD. For good measure, Kuhn also had a pick-six. Austin Brogger led the attack with 112 yards and a touchdown Evan Golden added a scoop-and-score, as the Indians scored twice on defense.
These teams have split their two previous meetings. Kiowa won in 2020 and Deer Trail evened the series last year with a 44-26 victory.
#10 BRANSON/KIM (3-1) AT COTOPAXI (4-0) SATURDAY 1PM
After two low scoring wins against Cheraw and Sierra Grande, in which they held a combined edge of 49-42, Branson/Kim (11th RPI) got everything rolling in last week’s 74-0 win over Sangre de Cristo. The Bearcats jumped out to a 36-0 first quarter lead and had the mercy clock rolling by the half. Four of Owen Doherty’s five completions went for scores, two to Cole Hofmeister, who also scored a rushing TD and a defensive touchdown on an interception return. That was one of three defensive scores for the Bearcats, as Brock Doherty also scored on a pick-six and Cade Smith returned a fumble for another. Peyton Cranson scored twice in the running game.
Like La Veta, Cotopaxi (13th RPI) is also unbeaten and outside of the top-ten of the coaches poll. The Pirates have bounced back from consecutive two-win seasons and positioned themselves as a contender for the South West division title. In their three on-field wins, the Pirates have outscored the opposition 200-33, including last week’s 71-14 win at Mountain Valley. They scored an astonishing 50 points in the second quarter. Ty Coleman continues to pile up impressive numbers, throwing for 229 yards and seven touchdowns, three apiece to Terrance Evans and Kaiden Zeleznikar. Those three combined for four interceptions, with Evans and Zeleznikar each returning one for a score. Coleman has 17 touchdowns and only two interceptions this season after throwing one TD and two picks last season.
Branson/Kim has won the last two meetings and owns a 2-1 edge in the young series.