Important matchups between Bennett-Platte Canyon, Limon-Burlington and Peyton-Colorado Springs Christian will help finalize 1A football league championships.  We preview those matchups and dive deep into the RPI in our weekly report.
Records listed next to the teams represent conference marks.  Final RPI standings and playoff brackets will be posted on Sunday.


Platte Canyon (3-1) at Bennett (4-0)
Vail Christian (1-3) at Manual (1-3)
Clear Creek (3-1) at Front Range Christian (0-4) — Saturday
Bennett is the number one ranked team in Class 1A but they’ve yet to clinch a league championship.  The Tigers need a win over Platte Canyon on Friday to wrap it up.  Since both teams rarely throw the football and run it on almost every down, it may be the quickest game of the regular season.
It appeared the game would also be a winner-take-all battle for the championship but that changed when Platte Canyon lost a wild 62-42 decision to Clear Creek.  So now Platte Canyon must upset the Tigers to grab a share of the top spot as a loss will drop them all the way to third.  The Huskies can only win the outright title with a win if Front Range Christian also stuns Clear Creek.
Platte Canyon allowed 470 yards and seven TD’s through the air in the loss but won’t face the same type of offensive attack this week.  Clear Creek QB Ty Judge threw 34 passes in the win which is two more than Bennett has attempted the entire season.
Instead Platte Canyon will face a physical running game that delivers 419 yards per game and has a penchant for the big play.  Four players have broken off runs of at least 63 yards this year and as a group, the Tigers have dented the scoreboard 46 times in the run game.
QB Rocky Lechman is the triggerman with 1,441 yards and 21 scores.  Mason Wakeham is next with 826 yards and seven scores.  The Tigers also welcome back Jesse Rodriguez back to the lineup.  Limited to just four games by injury, the senior still has 441 yards rushing with eight scores.
Platte Canyon rolled off 403 yards and four touchdowns rushing last week including 229 yards from Trevor Sander and 145 from Colton Carlson.  Overall, they were very good offensively but couldn’t get a stop defensively and must be much better on that side of the ball to stay close with Bennett this week.
Bennett is the top overall team in the RPI this week and of course they will be at home next week as a conference champion if they beat Platte Canyon.  That result could also open the door for Clear Creek to play at home.  The highest ranked non-league champion in the RPI also gets to host and right now that team is the Golddiggers.
With that in mind, Clear Creek will be watching closely the outcome between Limon and Burlington.  The Badgers are fifth in RPI this week and a loss moves them into the wildcard position and they could stay ahead of the Golddiggers in the race for the last home game.
Platte Canyon is also safely in the bracket at #9.  Manual is 20th and trails the 16th position by .051.  Playing Vail Christian will not help their strength of schedule either so the Thunderbolts will probably end up outside the playoff bracket.


Holyoke (0-4) at Wiggins (0-4)
Yuma (2-2) at Wray (2-2)
Burlington (4-0) at Limon (4-0)
Nothing new here as Limon and Burlington again clash for the league championship and a guaranteed home game in the first round of the playoffs.  The loser ends up second and will make the playoffs.  As we just mentioned, if that team is Limon the Badgers could still play at home next week.  If Burlington comes up short, the Cougars will travel for their post-season opener.  The Cougars are 10th in RPI this week.
Limon’s defense has been nothing short of stellar this season.  The Badgers have not allowed a point in conference play; giving up their last score in the fourth quarter against Strasburg in week four.  The Badgers have since rolled Wray (13-0), Holyoke (41-0), Wiggins (41-0) and Yuma (31-0) in impressive fashion.
The last two weeks, the Badgers have been very stingy against the run allowing Yuma 45 yards on 32 attempts and Wiggins just 48 on 15 attempts.  And neither opponent had much success through the air; Yuma finished with 76 yards and Wiggins only 65.
Burlington should pose a bigger threat as the Cougars enter the championship game averaging nearly 37 points per game.  They were held to just six points in a season opening loss to Strasburg but over the last seven games, the Cougars have not been below 36 in a single game.  They recorded a season high 54 in last week’s win over Wiggins.
While the Limon-Burlington clash will draw most of the attention, the annual rivalry game between Wray and Yuma is equally important.  The winner finishes third in the conference and could steal a playoff berth.  Both are knocking on the proverbial playoff door as Wray is 17th and Yuma 18th in RPI this week.
Wray trails #16 Colorado Springs Christian by .033 and Yuma is .045 off the Lions pace.  The Lions do have the advantage of playing once-beaten Peyton in the final week and that will boost their strength of schedule even more.  Starting the week, the Eagles and Indians have a huge advantage in that category and that’s why they’re still alive for a post-season berth.


Byers (1-3) at Highland (3-1)
Strasburg (4-0) at Lyons (2-2)
Estes Park (0-4) at Cornerstone Christian (2-2) — Saturday
There’s not much suspense in the league race as Strasburg has clinched the championship and Highland has locked up second.  Cornerstone Christian also grabs the third spot if they get past last-place Estes Park in their regular season finale on Saturday.
More suspense is involved in the playoff chase.  As the league champion, Strasburg is guaranteed a spot in the bracket and the defending state champions should get a very high seed.  They’re 3rd in RPI points and staying there or moving up to second should get them opposite Bennett in the playoff bracket.  Strasburg’s only loss is against the Tigers in week two.
The defending champions though are only .002 ahead of Centauri in the race for third.  Since the Falcons forfeit win over John Mall is already factored into their RPI, they cannot improve their number on the field this week.  The only change will come from results involving their opponents as those will change their overall strength of schedule.
One other concern for Strasburg and their seeding is the playoff committee itself.  That group could move Centauri ahead of the Indians based on a better overall record.
Two other league teams probably will be included in the playoff bracket.  Highland is 13th in RPI and Cornerstone Christian 14th and it seems they have enough of a cushion to stay in the top 16.  Both will see a drop in opponents winning percentage based on who they play this week.


Ellicott (2-1) at Rocky Ford (2-1)
Trinidad (1-2) at Crowley County (3-0)
Dolores Huerta (0-4) — BYE
Crowley County is league champion and will be at home in round one of the playoffs next week.  Based on RPI, the Chargers are looking at likely a seventh seed.  More than likely, the Chargers will end up trailing the highest ranked non-champion but will be ahead of the Tri Peaks champion.
It looks right now that Crowley County will be the only league team invited to the playoffs.  Rocky Ford is 21st and Ellicott 24th in RPI this week.  The Meloneers are .060 behind the 16th spot.  That’s a wide gap plus they must climb past five other clubs to get there.
The winner of their game though ends up second in the conference standings.


John Mall (0-4) at Centauri (4-0) (Forfeit by John Mall)
Dolores (1-2) at Monte Vista (2-1)
Ignacio (2-2) — BYE
Before they were officially awarded a forfeit by John Mall this week, Centauri had already clinched the league championship.  Missing the game this week will allow the Falcons to be in better health for what could be a deep playoff run.
Their lone focus now centers on seeding.  The Falcons, barring surprising results this week, should land the third or fourth overall seed.  They seem to have enough of a gap over Limon to avoid falling out of the top four and as mentioned, they’re battling defending state champion Strasburg for spots three and four.
Monte Vista is the 11th ranked team in the RPI and will be in the playoff bracket.  Their non-conference win over Rocky Ford last week was very important in getting the Pirates another playoff berth.  A win over Dolores this week also gives the Pirates second place outright in the league standings.
Dolores is 25th in RPI and probably out of the playoff picture as they have too many teams to move past to get consideration.


Buena Vista (3-1) at Rye (1-3)
Peyton (4-0) at Colorado Springs Christian (3-1)
Lake County (1-3) at St Mary’s (0-4)
One could make a case that Peyton’s double overtime win at Buena Vista was the best regular season game in Class 1A this year.  First place and control of the league championship was on the line and neither team led by more than a touchdown the entire game.  Both the Panthers and Demons scored a touchdown in the second, third and fourth quarters along with the first overtime session.  Peyton caused a fumble in the second overtime period and then scored the game winner on the ensuing possession.
The game was also even in the yardage column.  Peyton rushed for 137 yards and four touchdowns.  Buena Vista totaled 148 yards and three scores.  The Demons threw for 60 yards and the Panthers 67.
The outcome also leaves Peyton in much better shape for the playoff chase.  The Panthers are 12th in RPI but clinch the league title and post-season berth by beating Colorado Springs Christian.  A victory also puts Peyton at home in round one.  CS Christian is 16th in RPI and on the playoff bubble so a loss dramatically hurts their chances.  Buena Vista is 21st and likely won’t make the field as a wildcard.
Even though Peyton is in the driver’s seat, both Colorado Springs Christian and Buena Vista still have hopes of a league crown.  A three-way tie occurs if the Lions knock off Peyton and Buena Vista also beats Rye.  If that happens, a tiebreaker will then be used to determine the champion and more importantly the automatic qualifier.
UPDATE ON TIEBREAKER:  The conference tiebreaker is a point system that is based on the number of points scored and allowed in games involving the top three teams.  Winning teams also gain one additional point.  Buena Vista is currently at 17 points and cannot change since the Demons have already played the other clubs.  Peyton has 8 points and Colorado Springs Christian 5.


Hotchkiss (2-2) at Cedaredge (1-3)
Paonia (3-1) at Grand Valley (0-4)
Olathe (2-2) at Meeker (4-0)
Meeker is the league champion and Paonia has locked up second.  Both teams are making plans for the playoffs.  Meeker is 2nd in RPI and within range of overtaking Bennett for the top overall spot.  They trail the Tigers by .006 but Bennett has a slight advantage in scheduling as they face one loss Platte Canyon.  It boosts their strength of schedule and they have a slight edge on the Cowboys in that category already.
Paonia is 7th in RPI and is battling Clear Creek for the one wildcard team that gets to host in the first round.  If Limon loses to Burlington in the North Central championship game, then the Badgers also get involved in the mix.  They’re currently fifth in the RPI with Clear Creek sixth.
Hotchkiss (15th) and Olathe (19th) also enter the final week with playoff hopes.  Hotchkiss can lock up third place in the conference by beating Cedaredge but more importantly the Bulldogs lead Colorado Springs Christian by .011 in the race for the two final post-season spots.  They’re also .008 behind Cornerstone Christian and have a chance to move up in seeding as well.
Olathe will get a boost from playing Meeker as it will enhance their strength of schedule.  Plus, the two teams directly ahead of them (Yuma-Wray) play each other so at least one will suffer a loss.  And Colorado Springs Christian has the tough matchup with Peyton.