EIGHT-MAN FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK SEVEN
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
While the calendar this weekend looks like a number of mismatches on paper, Friday sees three clashes of teams with winning records, two of which feature ranked teams squaring off. Saturday has three more contests with both teams sporting winning records.
#1 HAXTUN (5-0) AT #8 CALICHE (4-1) FRIDAY 7:30PM
Top-ranked Haxtun sits atop the RPI and the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index that is the metric that will be used to determine playoff qualifiers who do not win their division. The Fightin’ Bulldogs had the sportsmanship clock rolling before the fourth quarter in last week’s 48-14 win over Akron in league play. They did it with a running attack that piled up 503 yards and six touchdowns on just 33 carries. Ryland Wolff led the way with 181 yards and two scores, with Michael Gerk adding 165 and three touchdowns, and Kailin Kelley going for 112 and a TD. Gerk also snagged a 48-yard TD from Wolff. The defense had a shutout going into the final frame, with Kelley racking up 15 tackles and a fumble recovery. Keegan Colglazier also had a recovery as well as a forced fumble. Kyle Fryrear and Maclin Tempel added forced fumbles.
Caliche suffered its first blemish of the season in last week’s 42-14 loss at Sedgwick County. Even with the loss, the Buffs climbed into the rankings after sitting just outside prior to that contest. They’re sitting in 16th place in the seeding index, which would make them the final qualifier, assuming all division champs are ahead of them. The Buffs led last week’s contest 8-0 after the first quarter, but trailed 14-8 at the half. It was still a one score game heading into the fourth, but the Cougars put it away with 22 unanswered points. Seth Marick ran for one score and threw for the other, with Tanner Gerk on the receiving end. Orran Adolf led the defense with 14 tackles, including a sack, and Max Fryrear had a pair of forced fumbles.
The recent portion of the series is tied at 9-9, with Haxtun owning the last two victories. Last year it was a 50-0 shutout.
#2 DOVE CREEK (6-0) AT #4 MANCOS (5-1) FRIDAY 7PM
Dove Creek made a big statement in its league opener, rolling Sanford 50-8 behind 145 yards and two rushing touchdowns from Kendall Gardner and a pair of passing scores from Kade Hankins. Hankins hit all six of his passes for 90 yards, with the touchdowns going to Cole Taber and Taber Dejane, and he also had a rushing TD. Quaden Huffaker led the defensive effort with 19 tackles, and Dustin Glover added 15. Dejane had a touchdown on one of his two interceptions, and Audric Chadd added a fumble recovery for a TD.
Mancos had an even bigger margin of victory in its opener against Sargent, as the Bluejays won 60-6. Kail Wayman did a bit of everything in the win, rushing for 110 yards and a TD on four carries, catching two passes for 52 yards and two scores, and returning a punt 58 yards for a fourth touchdown. Ayden Matthews completed all five of his passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns and he added a rushing TD. Matthews also led the defense with 10 tackles. Kaiden Wyatt had 3.5 sacks, while Lane Greenlee tallied 1.5.
With both teams sitting in the top three of the seeding index, this contest is more about the league title, as the winner will have the inside track. Dove Creek owns a 10-6 edge in the recent history of the series, but Mancos won last year’s clash 22-14. The last three have all been decided by a single score.
#5 CROWLEY COUNTY (5-0) VS DOLORES HUERTA PREP (1-4) SATURDAY 1PM
Blevyns Brown threw for 197 yards and two scores, while adding another on the ground, as Crowley County rolled past Fowler 56-20 last week. The Chargers blew the game open with a 20-0 second quarter, giving them a 36-8 lead at the half. Dillon Buford and Gunnar Hughes each had a rushing and receiving touchdown, as they combined for 319 yards of offense. CJ Acord helped the defense with a strip sack/recovery for a TD, and Case Buford had a pair of interceptions, one being a pick-six.
The Scorpions pushed Hoehne to the limit last week, but came up just short, falling 20-18 to the Farmers. On the season, Dolores Huerta Prep has been outscored 172-128. Most of that happened in the first three games of the campaign, where the Scorpions went 0-3 and were topped 146-51.
There have only been two meetings between these two, none since 2017. The Scorpions will be looking for their first ever points against the Chargers program.
#6 LYONS (5-0) VS JUSTICE (1-4) FRIDAY 7PM
Lyons built a 48-14 halftime lead against Byers last week and took the division opening win, 56-14. Malik Sigg-Brown ran for 206 yards and four scores on just eight carries, while Miles Dumbauld went for 80 yards and a TD on his five carries. Maregu Sullivan added an 80-yard kick return for another touchdown.
Justice dropped its third straight contest last week, as the Phoenix were blanked 48-0 by Belleview Christian. They allowed 458 yards of offense, 248 through the air. On the season, Justice has only scored two touchdowns, and been outscored 181-14.
This will only be the second meeting between the two programs, with Lyons winning 50-14 last year. Sullivan threw for one score and ran for another, and Finn Oetting scored on a 99-yard punt return and an 80-yard kick return.
#7 WEST GRAND (5-0) AT RANGELY (1-4) FRIDAY 7PM
The Mustangs racked up their third straight shutout and fourth of the season, as they blanked Soroco 62-0 last week. During the shutout streak they’ve won by a total of 158 points. Last week, they did all of their damage before the half, with 40 points going up in the first quarter. Four of Wyatt Howell’s five carries resulted in touchdowns, as the senior ran for 132 yards in the contest. Dawson Landrus recorded four sacks and a fumble recovery, while Dylan Elthrop had two sacks and a blocked punt. Ollie Bergman and Killian Roche both had interceptions, and Blake Terryberry added a fumble recovery.
Rangely went to Hayden last week, looking to build a two-game winning streak. At the half, things looked good, as the Panthers led 20-14. After the intermission, things went south in a hurry. Hayden outscored them 42-6 to claim the 56-26 victory. Marstan Wagner had a big game on the ground, running for 216 yards and two touchdowns, and Kobey Chism accounted for the team’s other touchdown, also on the ground. Those two combined for 25 tackles and two fumble recoveries, as well.
The recent history of the series has been lopsided in West Grand’s favor, as the Mustangs have won 10 of the last 14 meetings. However, Rangely has won the last two, including a 38-0 shutout last year.
#9 HOLLY (4-1) VS SPRINGFIELD (1-4) FRIDAY 7PM
Holly grew its winning streak to three with a 57-6 victory over Las Animas last week. The Wildcats, who sit 10th in the seeding index, racked up more than 500 yards of offense, with 336 coming through the air. Andre Salgado hit on 13 of 16 attempts for 281 yards and three scores, while Devin Eaton went 5-9 for 55 yards and a TD. Daunte Maldonado and Colby Swopes each went over the century mark as receivers. Swopes added two sacks and a punt return for a TD. Dylan Tamayo had three interceptions.
While the Wildcats are trending upwards, the opposite has been true for Springfield. The Longhorns dropped their third straight, falling to Wiley 54-6 last week. That was only their second game against an in-state opponent.
Holly has won three straight in the series and five of the last six to gain a 9-8 edge since 2004. Swopes had a pair of receiving touchdowns in last year’s 46-6 victory.
#10 AKRON (3-2) VS DAYSPRING CHRISTIAN (3-2)
After starting the season 3-0, Akron has dropped its last two, the latest being a 48-14 defeat by Haxtun last week. While the run defense struggled, the Rams did get an interception from Anderson Filla, who led the team with 10 tackles. The sophomore also had a team-high 75 yards rushing, and he scored both touchdowns. Ivan Losa showed big play potential, gaining 50 yards on his lone reception.
League play didn’t get off to a good start for Dayspring Christian either. The Eagles fell to Merino at home last week, 36-20. One bright spot in the loss was the running of Elijah Fusco (124 yards, TD) and Zach Freeman (58 yards, TD). The passing game was another story, as the Eagles were picked off three times.
With Akron sitting 14th in the seeding index, and Dayspring checking in at 11th, both teams could really use a victory to aid their cause. The loser goes to 0-2 in the Plains division. The Eagles have owned the series between these two, taking 10 of 13 all-time meetings. They have not lost to the Rams since 2016.
HAYDEN (3-2) AT VAIL CHRISTIAN (3-1) FRIDAY 7PM
The winner of Friday’s contest between the Tigers and Saints retains no less than a share of the league title, with West Grand also undefeated in divisional play. With last week’s win over Rangely, Hayden has outscored its two league opponents 114-38. Vail Christian won its second straight game, as the Saints blasted Plateau Valley 66-34 last week. They did not complete a pass in the contest, but they didn’t need to. The running game churned out 523 yards and eight touchdowns. Taylor Shull accounted for 322 yards and seven of those scores. The Saints have won five straight meetings, and are 5-1 all-time against the Tigers.
BELLEVIEW CHRISTIAN (3-2) AT FRONT RANGE CHRISTIAN (3-2) SATURDAY 11AM
After dropping two straight and being outscored 82-6 in the process, Belleview Christian got back on track with the win over Justice last week. Collin Polson threw for four touchdowns and Davin Hunter ran for three and also caught one. Defensively, Hunter had three interceptions. Front Range Christian also opened league play with a shutout last week, snapping a two-game skid with the 51-0 victory over Gilpin County. The Falcons sit 21st in the seeding index, while Belleview Christian is 23rd. They are both tied with Lyons atop the division and will likely have to win the crown to make the postseason.
SWINK (3-2) AT WILEY (3-2) SATURDAY 6PM
Swink dropped a heart-breaker to McClave last week 30-28, despite four total touchdowns from Hank Bauserman. The difference in the contest was a two-point conversion, as the Lions only made two, compared to three by McClave. Wiley’s win over Springfield helped the Panthers bounce back from a disappointing 50-6 loss to Sanford the previous week, and a win this week would put them at 2-0 in the Ark Valley. Wiley is one spot ahead of Swink in the seeding index at 18th, and both need to start stacking up wins to solidify a playoff spot. The Lions have won seven straight in the series, the last two by shutouts, but they have not played the last two seasons.
SEDGWICK COUNTY (2-3) AT MERINO (3-2) SATURDAY 7PM
With both teams coming off wins last week, the winner of this contest stays unbeaten in the Plains. Merino is eighth in the seeding index, while Sedgwick County sits 12th. The Cougars have won the last five meetings, 18-12 last year, but it’s Merino with a 12-10 lead in the series.