EIGHT-MAN FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK SIX
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
Nearly every team across the classification will be in league action this week, setting up a number of top match-ups. Two of those will feature a pair of ranked teams.
#7 LYONS (4-0) VS BYERS (0-4) THURSDAY 7PM
In their second season of eight-man, the Lions won five games. Coming off their bye, they have a chance to match that total with a league win over Byers. Miles Dumbauld is completing just under 50% of his passes, but almost half of his completions (11) have gone for touchdowns (5). Maregu Sullivan has three of those TD receptions. He’s also one of five runners with more than 100 yards (111). Malik Sigg-Brown (347) leads the group, with Finn Oetting (218), Dumbauld (217), and Dequlyn Keller (124) completing the leaders. The five have combined for all 13 rushing scores by the Lions. Keller’s biggest impact has been on defense, where his 49 tackles are tops. Oetting (3) and Dumbauld (2) have all five interceptions by the unit.
Byers’ record is a bit deceiving, as the Bulldogs have losses against four of this week’s top 12 teams, including last week’s overtime defeat at #11 Caliche. The Bulldogs led 22-8 heading into the fourth quarter, but could not hold on. Chase Long threw for more than 200 yards with a pair of touchdowns, giving him close to 750 yards and seven scores on the season. Herman Holt caught a TD and added another on the ground last week.
The Bulldogs have won both previous meetings in eight-man, including a 36-14 victory last year. Oetting ran for 110 yards and a TD in the loss.
#1 HAXTUN (4-0) VS #8 AKRON (3-1) FRIDAY 7:30PM
In a crossover game, Haxtun hosted Fleming out of six-man last week and the Fightin’ Bulldogs took care of business, rolling to a 46-0 win over their neighbors to the west. Michael Gerk (107) and Ryland Wolff (105) both went over the century mark on the ground, with three touchdowns between them. Wolff threw for another 105 yards. Kailin Kelley and Grant Statz also tallied rushing touchdowns, as the team racked up just short of 400 yards behind their front three that combines for more than 700 pounds. Defensively, Gerk picked off three passes and was one of three defenders with double figure tackles with 10. Kelley led with 13, and Statz added a dozen.
Akron’s had an extra week to try to fix what went wrong in the fourth quarter of its loss to Holly two weeks ago. The Rams held a 14-7 lead going into the final frame, but allowed three scores, eventually losing the contest 27-14. Akron was outgained 405-308 in the contest and turned the ball over six times. Four of those came on interceptions.
Akron owns an 8-4 lead in the series, but Haxtun has won the last four meetings. The Fightin’ Bulldogs claimed a 42-24 win on the road last season, with Gerk running for 230 yards and two scores. Ivan Losa paced Akron with 114 yards and a TD. It was Haxtun’s only game decided by fewer than 20 points en route to a state title.
#2 DOVE CREEK (5-0) VS #10 SANFORD (4-1) FRIDAY 6PM
Dove Creek had its hands full on the road last week, as the Bulldogs only led Monticello (UT) 24-6 at the intermission. They would outscore their hosts 28-6 after the break to improve to 5-0 on the season. Kendall Gardner helped the Bulldogs run for close to 450 yards as a team, with 148 and three scores. Gage Buffington added 123 yards, and Kade Hankins recorded 116 with a TD. He also tossed a TD pass to Gardner, who scored a touchdown on defense with a fumble recovery. Quaden Huffaker piled up 21 tackles, including one of the team’s five sacks. Tyson Beanland had two of the other four.
Sanford made it two straight wins after a loss to #3 Simla, as the Mustangs bounced Wiley 56-6 last week. They have outscored their last two opponents 112-28. Wiley had scored at least 44 points in each of its first three games, before the Sanford defense held them to just one touchdown.
Dove Creek and Sanford are both in the top-five of the RPI heading into the contest, and the winner will share the early lead in the division. The Bulldogs won last year’s meeting 44-28, outscoring Sanford 16-0 in the second half. Buffington ran for 142 yards and a score, and also snagged a 72-yard scoring pass in the win. Gauge Lewis had a receiving touchdown for the Mustangs.
#3 SIMLA (4-0) VS CALHAN (3-2) FRIDAY 7PM
Simla enters league play off of its bye, following a 42-23 win over Sedgwick County in week four. The Cubs outscored their non-league opponents 156-37. Brayden Glover (49) and TJ Eurich (44) have combined for 93 tackles to lead the defense, while Brent Bowker (5) and Treven Kochera (4) have nine of the team’s 11 sacks. Eurich (364) and Glover (214) are the top runners, with each having scored four touchdowns. Caston Cox has added 196 yards on the ground, to go with his 942 through the air. Eurich, Bowker, and Kochera have a total of 11 receiving touchdowns.
Calhan already owns a victory in league play, as they won a clash of Bulldogs with Elbert (40-16) last week. Aiden Jack put the team on his back, rushing for 375 yards and five scores, while also tallying a team-high 17 tackles, including a sack. Logan Jack added 15 tackles. Christian Aljets added a rushing score and had one of the team’s takeaways with an interception, while also forcing a fumble. Riley Cochran had two fumble recoveries and Noah Nelson had one. Trevor Hendrix added an interception and a sack to the defensive effort.
The last three meetings between the two programs have been white-knucklers, as they’ve each been decided by a single score. Simla is 3-1 overall against the Bulldogs, with wins of 28-20 and 14-8 the last two seasons. Calhan’s win in the series came in 2019, a 22-20 decision. Cox scored both touchdowns last year for the Cubs, while A. Jack racked up a game-high 24 tackles to lead the Bulldogs.
#4 MANCOS (4-1) VS SARGENT (2-2) FRIDAY 6PM
Mancos improved to 3-0 against out-of-state opponents, as the Bluejays bounced back from a loss to #1 Haxtun with a 62-6 drubbing of Whitehorse (UT) last week. It marked the third time they’ve allowed a single touchdown in a game this season. It was 48-0 after one quarter. Ayden Matthews hit on all six of his pass attempts, racking up 158 yards and four scores. Brandon Vannest added another TD pass in relief. Kail Wayman caught two of the five scoring passes, and also added two more touchdowns on just four rushing attempts. Chris Medina got the defense on the board with a safety.
Before going on its bye week, Sargent evened its record at 2-2 with a 42-20 win over Custer County in week four. Wyatt Cross led the team with 175 yards rushing and 18 tackles. Jaycian Sierra and Matt Voss each added 10 stops. Sierra also tallied a sack, a fumble recovery, and a blocked kick. Fernando Venzor added a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery for the Farmers.
The Bluejays have won four straight in the series, the last two by a combined tally of 99-6. Matthews threw two touchdowns in last year’s 47-0 win, and Wayman had one receiving and one rushing.
#5 WEST GRAND (4-0) VS SOROCO (2-2) FRIDAY 7PM
West Grand enters Friday’s league game against Soroco having pitched two consecutive shutouts, and three of four opponents have failed to dent the scoreboard against the Mustangs. They are allowing an average of five points a contest behind a defense that has racked up 13 sacks and 12 takeaways. Wyatt Shearer has 4.5 sacks and four fumble recoveries, while Dylan Elthrop has 3.5 sacks and a blocked punt. Wyatt Howell leads the unit with two of their four interceptions, and Evan Crandall’s 48 tackles are also tops.
Soroco had its two-game winning streak snapped two weeks ago, as the Rams became the first team to fall to St. Mary’s in their first season of eight-man. The Rams were doubled up, 44-22, as they were outscored 13-0 in the first half and 23-6 in the fourth quarter. Their offense was only on the field for 38 snaps, and only managed to accumulate 110 total yards, as the Pirates controlled the clock with 360 yards on 56 running plays. Despite that, the defense kept them in the game by securing five turnovers, including a pair of interceptions.
Both teams are coming off their bye weeks, and this is the league opener for both. West Grand has won all 14 match-ups during the MaxPreps era, with shutouts in three of the last five. The Mustangs took last year’s meeting 48-30, with Howell running for 242 yards and four touchdowns, and Shearer adding 141 yards and two scores. He also threw a TD to Howell.
#6 CROWLEY COUNTY (4-0) VS FOWLER (0-4) FRIDAY 7PM
League play starts in the Santa Fe, and the Chargers are coming off a bye after rolling through the non-conference portion of their calendar. Crowley County posted a pair of shutouts and allowed a total of 36 points in the other two wins. Dillon Buford (469 yards, 4 TD) and Skeeter Baker (393 yards, 5 TD) lead the running game, and Baker also has a pair of TD catches. Buford has half of the team’s eight interceptions on defense.
The non-league schedule did not go well for Fowler, as the Grizzlies were outscored 185-64, and they allowed 50 or more points in each of the last two games. They are hoping a bye week will help change their fortunes. Harrison Proctor (46 tackles) and Dominic Armijo (45 tackles) combine for more than 22 stops per game. Proctor has also recovered three fumbles, while Armijo has one.
This is just the third meeting between the two squads, with Fowler winning 32-22 two years ago, and the Chargers taking a 26-6 victory last season. Buford ran for 113 yards and a TD in that win.
#9 HOLLY (3-1) VS LAS ANIMAS (0-4) FRIDAY 7PM
Holly backed up its upset of Akron with a 44-0 blanking of St. Mary’s last week, with an offense that racked up 575 yards. Five different Wildcats got into the end zone, with Daunte Maldonado scoring on the ground and as a receiver. Rueben Maldonado, Andre Salgado, and Huston Rushton also scored rushing touchdowns, and Jacob Noriega added a receiving TD. Arnol Bobadilla converted all five PAT kicks, and also drilled a 28-yard field goal. He’s made all eight PAT tries over the last two games.
Points have been hard to come by for the Trojans, as they’ve been outscored 192-28 during the non-league slate. Dayton Morlan ran for more than 100 yards and a TD in last week’s 56-14 loss to John Mall, and Conan Tyler added 56 yards and a score. The Trojans allowed three non-offensive touchdowns in the loss, two on fumbles.
Holly has won seven straight against the Trojans, including a 66-30 decision last season. The Wildcats led 35-0 after one quarter and racked up just short of 570 yards of offense in the contest. They also recorded four takeaways and a blocked punt.
Outside of the top-ten:
Dayspring Christian (3-1) hosts Merino (2-2) on Saturday in the Plains league opener for both teams. The Eagles are riding a three-game winning streak into the contest, with the last coming 26-20 over Hayden last week. They allowed 399 yards in the win, 286 on the ground. Merino is on a two-game skid after losses to Mancos and Lyons. The Rams could regain the services of Deacon Trenkle, who missed time due to injury. They’ve had an extra week to get healthy after having their bye last week. This has been a fun series, with Merino owning a 12-11 edge since 2004. They’ve met five times in the postseason, including last year. Dayspring Christian avenged a 30-22 loss during the regular season with a 58-30 win in the playoffs.