SIX-MAN FOOTBALL PREVIEW – QUARTERFINALS
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
The opening round of the six-man playoffs only saw one upset and it was a minor one, according to the seeding. However, #9 Eads’ lopsided win at #8 North Park was nothing short of a major victory for the Eagles. They will host the top-ranked Stratton Eagles on Saturday, looking to knock out the overwhelming favorites. One of the four quarterfinals will be played on Friday, while the other three are all Saturday 1pm kicks. All games are listed in bracket order.
#1 STRATTON (11-0) AT #9 EADS (8-3) SATURDAY 1PM
If you only looked at the final score of Stratton’s first round game against #16 Prairie, you might think that it was a lot closer than it really was. The Eagles ran out to a 22-0 first quarter lead and they had the mercy clock rolling by halftime with a 46-0 advantage. Prairie scored twice against the reserves to make it a final of 46-14.
Alex Cruz turned four of his eight carries into touchdowns and the senior finished with 100 yards. It was his seventh game of the year with at least that many yards. He’s now pushed his season touchdown total to 38 (33 rushing). Cyler Notter and Joe Shean each added a rushing TD, and Carlos Sanza converted five of his six PAT kicks. On the defensive side, Notter racked up 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Cruz shared a sack with him, and also had a blocked punt and a fumble recovery. Brody Webb, who led the the Eagles with eight tackles, added an interception.
Not even the first big snow storm of the season could slow down the Eads offense at North Park, as that squad of Eagles rolled up a 75-28 victory. Stockton Mitchek ran for 174 yards and five touchdowns, while Bo Arnold was busy adding 167 yards and two scores of his own. They helped power a rushing attack that amassed 383 yards. Porter Spady tossed a pair of touchdowns, both to Keenan Smith, who caught three of Spady’s four completions.
Spady and Smith each had 10 tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery. AJ Vasquez and Kadan Dunlap also added a fumble recovery each. For good measure, Spady drilled seven of nine PAT kicks.
Eads is one of the few teams in the classification to have much success against Stratton, with three wins in five match-ups against the former Stratton/Liberty co-op. However, Stratton has won the last three as a stand-alone. That includes a 73-8 decision in the opening round last year. The two prior to that were back in 2004 and 2005, with both programs in eight-man.
#4 CHEYENNE WELLS (7-3) VS #5 OTIS (8-2) SATURDAY 1PM
Even with their top two QBs sidelined by injury, the Cheyenne Wells Tigers put up a season-high 70 points in their opening round contest against Cotopaxi. They put a saddle on Ty Scheler, who ran for 323 yards and six touchdowns, while also throwing for 60 and another touchdown in the 45-point victory. That TD pass went to Carson Noe, his only catch of the day. Zach Dickey also threw a TD, with Bryson Hyle on the other end, and Ethan Garay scored on a running play.
Dickey also led the defense with 11 tackles, 10 of them solo, while also recording an interception. Trey Scheler had five sacks in his eight tackle total. Chason Turner chipped in a sack and a fumble recovery. Jesse Harlow returned to his form from the previous two seasons by connecting on eight of his nine PAT tries.
Otis was also without its starting QB in the opening round, with freshman Austin Hornung stepping in for Carson Wells. Two of his three completions in the Bulldogs’ 55-13 win over Sierra Grande went for touchdowns, both to Sawyer Packer. Tayte Smith had another strong day running the ball, racking up 162 yards and three touchdowns, while Erick Thorn added 132 yards and two scores.
Charlie Kendrick made his biggest impact on defense and special teams, recording a team-high eight tackles, while also converting all six PAT kicks, and picking up touchbacks on five of eight kickoffs. Tack on one of the two interceptions by the Bulldogs and the sophomore had solid effort. Mitchell Stivers also had a pick, and Bohden Klinzmann helped out with a fumble recovery.
This is just the third time the two programs have met in six-man, with Otis winning 52-42 in 2018 and Cheyenne Wells answering with a 58-8 victory the following year. They’ve not met in the postseason.
#3 GRANADA (7-3) VS #6 ARICKAREE (8-2) SATURDAY 1PM
A monster second quarter helped Granada blow open a tight opening round contest with Briggsdale, as the Bobcats put 40 points on the board in the frame. They went on to collect an 89-32 win, with the running clock started in the third quarter. Maddox Coleman completed eight of 11 passes for 96 yards and five touchdowns, while also rushing for a team-leading 80 yards. Brandon Gonzales added a TD pass. Jonus Guevara rushed for 77 yards and two scores, and also caught a TD. John Hainer had two receiving scores and one on the ground. In all, the Bobcats had six different players with at least one offensive touchdown.
The Bobcats also did damage on defense and special teams. Guevara had an interception, a fumble recovery, and a kick return for a score. Gonzales and Hainer also had an interception apiece. Hainer took his back to the house for a pick-six. Jose Sanchez was perfect on his eight PAT kicks.
Arickaree had the toughest opening round contest of the eight quarterfinalists, as the Bison escaped the upset bid of Branson/Kim, 26-22. The Bison trailed 22-12 midway through the third quarter, but a pick-six by Bryce Shaffer started to swing momentum. They would take the lead midway through the fourth on a Logan Wright TD pass to Jake King, and a late safety by Austin Wright sealed the comeback victory.
Wright hit on nine of 17 pass attempts for 128 yards and two scores, adding one to Shaffer to his late one to King. He also ran for 155 yards. Nic Hermes had the lone rushing TD for the team. Hayden Page racked up 22 tackles and Zarron Skubal added 19, two of them sacks. A. Wright chipped in 15 tackles, with a sack and a blocked kick, to go with his safety. Hermes and L. Wright both had 11 tackles, with Wright also recovering a fumble. King was the sixth member of the unit in double figures, with the sophomore adding 10.
The teams have met twice, both while Arickaree was part of the co-op with Woodlin. Arickaree won a 76-56 shootout in 2018, and Granada taking a 36-30 victory the following year. This is the first postseason meeting between the two.
#2 FLEMING (8-2) VS #7 GENOA-HUGO (8-2) FRIDAY 2PM
Fleming had few troubles in the opening round, as the Wildcats ran their way past Hanover 58-6. Nolan Japp went for 134 yards and two scores on the ground, and Travis Johnson and Kolten Houser each added a rushing TD. Houser, Harry Harms, and David Betley each had a receiving touchdown, as Braylen Feather (2 TD) and Derek Houser (1 TD) combined for three scoring tosses.
Japp and Feather both had two interceptions, with Japp taking one in for a score. Blake Feather, who converted five of eight kicks, led the defense with nine stops. K. Houser and Matix Haney both added eight. Peter Brekel contributed a fumble recovery, and Wyatt Cochran recorded a sack.
Genoa-Hugo got defensive in its opening round game against Cheraw. The Pirates picked up a 31-8 victory, joining Fleming as the only teams to hold their opponent to single digits in the round. Five players reached double figures in tackles, with Zach Wilson and Konner Rowden-Stum each registering 11. Brady Simmons, Trey Smith, and Jack Kissel each added 10. Smith accounted for the lone takeaway, intercepting a pass.
On the offensive side of the ball, Smith threw for 155 yards and two scores, both to Kyler Rowden-Stum, and also scored on his only carry of the day. Konner Rowden-Stum ran for a team-leading 92 yards and a touchdown. Kyler led with eight catches and 86 yards receiving. Smith was also three for three on PAT kicks.
The two squads have not met at all during the MaxPreps era, dating back to 2004.