SIX-MAN FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK SEVEN
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
Heading into an important week seven, if the season ended today, five teams from the South East would be in the 16 team field, while the South West and East would each have four teams qualified. That would leave two spots filled by the North, and only one from the East Central. All of this is based on the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index, which will be used to pick the 11 wild cards that will complete the field behind the division champions. This week features two contests with ranked vs ranked, as well as a very busy Thursday.
#1 STRATTON (6-0) AT #3 OTIS (6-0) FRIDAY 7:30PM
For the fifth time in seven games, top-ranked Stratton faces a ranked opponent. In the previous four, the Eagles won by a combined score of 259-82. Almost half of the points the Eagles have allowed this season have come after the running clock was employed. They have had that in all six games this season. Last week, it came on the third play of the second quarter, as they built a 40-0 lead in the first and ran away with a 70-6 win at Idalia. Cyler Notter scored on three of four touches in the game, and topped 100 yards in the process. Avery Archuleta added a pair of rushing scores, and Brody Webb added a TD catch from Charlie Tagtmeyer and a pick-six.
While this week’s opponent was rolling, Otis was locked in a very tight contest at home against #6 Genoa-Hugo. The Bulldogs, who sit fourth in the seeding index, pulled out a 37-35 victory over the Pirates. Tayte Smith continued to pile up impressive numbers on the ground, running for 217 yards and three touchdowns, while Carter Wells tossed a TD pass to big brother, Peyton. Sawyer Packer got in on the fun, scoring on a 72-yard kick return.
Otis will be looking for its first win over Stratton since beating the Stratton/Liberty co-op back in 2014. They’ve dropped seven straight against the green and white since, including a 57-18 decision last season. Tagtmeyer completed all five passes in that contest, with a pair of touchdowns. Smith was limited to 62 yards on 21 carries, but he did score twice. That game saw the sportsmanship clock in the third quarter.
#2 FLEMING (4-1) VS WELDON VALLEY (2-4) FRIDAY 7PM
Fleming ruined Homecoming for Peetz last week, as the Wildcats scored 32 second quarter points on their way to a 57-6 league win. Braylen Feather saw both of his completions go for scores, both to Wyatt Cochran. Nolan Japp went for 103 and a TD on four carries, and Blake Feather added 99 yards and two scores on five attempts. Japp also scored on an interception return and a punt return. Kolten Houser tallied a game-high 14 tackles, four for loss.
Weldon Valley picked up a win without having to take the field last week, as the Warriors claimed a forfeit over Flagler, who has canceled the rest of its season. They gladly accepted that victory, as it snapped a four-game losing streak. The last two of those were in league play. On the season, Weldon Valley has been outscored 211-103. Sitting 29th in the seeding index, the Warriors need upsets this week and next (Briggsdale) to have any shot at making the playoffs.
That looks to be a monumental task, as Fleming is 15-2 against the Warriors since 2004. The Wildcats have not lost since 2005. Last year, they took a 62-18 win on the road, with Braylen Feather throwing five touchdowns.
#5 GRANADA (3-2) AT #10 EADS (3-2) FRIDAY 7PM
Since taking a forfeit loss in week three, Granada has come back with a three straight wins inside the South East and sits third in the seeding index due to strength of schedule. The Bobcats’ latest win came at home against Cheraw, 54-22, which was the fourth loss in the last five weeks for the Wolverines. Maddox Coleman and Brandon Gonzales both went over 100 yards passing, as they combined to hit on 16 of 22 attempts for 245 yards and three touchdowns. Coleman scored twice on the ground and caught a TD from Gonzales. Both of his scoring passes went to John Hainer, who finished with seven catches for 139 yards. He also scored twice on the ground. Defensively, Jonus Guevara recovered four fumbles, giving him six on the season.
Eads bounced back from week five’s disheartening loss to Cheraw, in which three key players went out with injuries, outscoring Walsh 55-49. The big difference in the contest was a 20-8 second quarter that gave Eads a 34-21 halftime advantage. Porter Spady completed seven of 11 passes for 110 yards and four touchdowns, while Bo Arnold was perfect on his four attempts for 85 yards and a TD. Stetson Mitchek caught three touchdown tosses and ran for two more, piling up a combined 276 yards of offense, 189 on the ground. Keenan Smith had a pair of TD catches, and Arnold added 94 yards and a rushing TD. The Eads defense recorded five takeaways, four on fumbles.
The Eagles will be looking for their first win in the series with both teams in six-man, as Granada has gone 4-0 since dropping down in 2018. The two middle games in that stretch were each decided by single digits, but in the bookends, the Bobcats owned a 102-6 scoring edge. Last year, it was Coleman catching four passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns, as Granada rolled 48-6.
#6 GENOA-HUGO (4-2) VS HI-PLAINS (1-4) THURSDAY 7PM
The Pirates suffered their second setback inside the East division with that loss at Otis last week, but they still sit fifth in the seeding index. Trey Smith threw for 259 yards and two scores last week, while adding another touchdown on the ground. Kyler Rowden-Stum caught 11 passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns, while Konner Rowden-Stum (who played for Hi-Plains last year) snagged eight receptions for 108 yards, and added a team-high 68 rushing yards with two scores. The Pirates had five players with at least nine tackles, led by Smith with a game-leading 20.
For the Patriots, this marks the third straight week where they will face a high-scoring opponent. Two weeks ago, Stratton put 65 points on the board in a shutout, and last week, #4 Arickaree posted a 72-8 win over them. Having only scored 32 points on the season, keeping up looks like a Herculean task.
Despite being in close proximity to each other, this will be the first meeting between the two sides during the MaxPreps era (2004-present).
#7 CHEYENNE WELLS (3-3) VS WALSH (3-3) FRIDAY 7PM
It’s a big match-up in the South East, as the Tigers look to remain in contention for the league crown. They are tied with Eads, one game back of Granada. Sitting eighth in the seeding index, they would seem to be safely in the postseason, but things can change in a hurry. Cheyenne Wells dominated Kit Carson 65-6 last week, with Ty Scheler running for 186 yards and four touchdowns on seven carries. His 11 tackles also led the team, that got interceptions from Carson Noe, Zach Dickey, Ethan Garay, and Bryson Hyle. Garay and Hyle both took theirs back for scores.
The game might mean even more to Walsh, as the Eagles have dropped two of their last three and they are barely holding onto a playoff spot at #15 in the seeding index. In last week’s loss to Eads, Leyton Jones ran for 135 yards and five touchdowns, while Ethan Barwick went for 153 and two scores. Barwick led all tacklers with 17, while Jones was next with 14. They combined for three fumble recoveries.
While most of the history between the two programs came during their time in 8-man, they have met nine times in six-man. Cheyenne Wells owns a 6-3 advantage in those match-ups, riding a six-game winning streak into this contest. The Tigers claimed a forfeit win last year.
#8 BRANSON/KIM (5-1) AT PRAIRE (3-2) SATURDAY 1PM
While most of the classification is entrenched in league play this week, Branson/Kim puts its five-game winning streak on the line in a non-league tilt at Prairie. The Bearcats, ranked sixth in the seeding index, own sole possession of the lead in the South West, one game up on Cotopaxi, Sierra Grande, and La Veta. They have wins over two of the three, with La Veta waiting in week nine. Last week, the Bearcats rolled to a 70-28 win at Primero. They allowed just under 300 yards passing, but stuffed the run to the tune of -5 yards on 18 carries.
The Mustangs enter the game off their bye and riding a modest two-game winning streak. They topped 70 points in both of those wins, and they are averaging 71.3 points in their three wins. In the win over Weldon Valley two weeks ago, Parker Jaeger made his return from a hand injury that had sidelined him up to that point. In limited action, he made four tackles, recovered a fumble, and recorded eight QB hurries. The Mustangs got him back at the right time, as they follow this game with league contests against Fleming and North Park in the next two weeks. Prairie sits 18th in the seeding index, so a win here would help their chances of making the postseason.
This will be the first meeting between the two programs.
#9 DEER TRAIL (6-0) VS NORTH PARK (3-2) THURSDAY 6PM
Behind the best scoring defense (65 points allowed) and one of the top scoring offenses (335 points scored), Deer Trail has built a 6-0 record. Strength of schedule is keeping the Eagles down in the seeding index, where they are 14th. They currently lead the East Central division, with a big contest against Hanover looming in two weeks. The Eagles shutdown a good Weskan (KS) squad in last week’s 37-7 victory. Elvin Castro powered the attack with 194 yards and three touchdowns in the run game. Julian Guevara added a rushing TD and another on a fumble recovery, while also recording a blocked punt.
After opening the season with losses to two of the current top four teams in the class, North Park has reeled off three straight wins, getting them up to 13th in the seeding index. Last week, the Wildcats regained the championship belt with a 54-34 win over Briggsdale in their rivalry. The Falcons had owned it for the past three seasons. Hunter Sessions threw for 189 yards and five touchdowns, three to Troy Gonzales, and Makeon Crum added 122 yards and two scores on the ground. Sessions (11) and Crum (10) combined for 21 tackles, and each had an interception. Preston Gonzales tallied two sacks and a fumble recovery.
These two have not met since 2013. The series is tied 1-1.
Outside of the top-10
La Veta (4-2, 12th seeding index) hosts Sierra Grande (4-2, 16th seeding index) on Thursday in an important South West division clash. Not only will the winner help their standing in the seeding index, but they will remain one game back of Branson/Kim for the lead in the league. For La Veta, that is huge, knowing that it still has a game against the Bearcats on the schedule.
The Redhawks were handed a 72-44 loss in the league by Cotopaxi last week, with the 36-12 second quarter proving pivotal. The teams combined for 1,035 yards of offense, with Jessey Montunnas throwing for 116 yards and three scores, and running for 111.
Sierra Grande picked up its third straight shutout victory, blanking Sangre de Cristo 67-0. In their winning streak, they’ve outscored their opponents 175-0. On the season, the Panthers have only allowed 86 points, 52 coming in a loss to Eads in week two. They’ve won three straight against La Veta, including an 80-6 drubbing last year.
Other games to keep an eye on this week have Hanover at Miami-Yoder, Briggsdale visiting Peetz, and Cheraw hosting Kit Carson, all on Friday. On Saturday, Cotopaxi travels to Primero. Fourth-ranked Arickaree earned a forfeit victory when Flagler dropped the rest of its season.