Limon and Meeker are two top 10 clubs in Class 1A that did not get the chance to play in week one as they sat through their bye week but now, they begin the season against one another in Western Colorado on Saturday.  The Badgers sit atop the Class 1A rankings and begin the quest of winning a fourth consecutive championship.  Meeker is ranked 9th and is traditionally one of the top teams west of I-25.


The Cowboys likely have more question marks; especially at quarterback where they must replace three-year starter Ryan Phelan.  He amassed nearly 5,300 yards and 45 TDs over his tremendous career.  Colorado Preps asked about his successor but coach Shane Phelan would not tip his hand; only saying they were working with two kids during the preseason camps.

Whoever the starter is, one of the first jobs will be to get the ball in the hands of Kelton Turner.  He led Meeker with 670 yards and eight scores on the ground and also added another 252 yards and two touchdowns as a receiver.

On defense, the Cowboys should get good production from returnees Connor Blunt and Zach Eskelson who each recorded 41 tackles last year; good enough for second on the club. Trinden Powell and Turner also picked off three passes during the COVID shortened fall season.

Limon meantime returns third year starter Trey Hines at quarterback.   He threw for 485 yards and ran for 206 yards as a junior.  He’s also a big play threat on defense including two interceptions in the Badgers championship shutout of Strasburg last November.

Hines is not the only major offensive returning for the three-time champs.  Jeremiah Leeper led the Badgers with 839 yards rushing last season and picked up over six yards attempt.  Nine of his carries ended in a touchdown.  Fullback Ky Bandy returns to lead the way up front along with nearly half of the offensive line from last year’s state championship club.  Brady Rockwell returns on the outside after catching seven passes last season.

Holyoke, ranked 8th, is a third member of the top 10 that did not get on the field last week.  They too waited through a bye and will begin their 2021 on the road; a long way from home at Rye.

The Dragons leader is Miles Sprague who begins his fourth year as the starting QB.  The first three years have totaled 3,433 yards and 33 TDs passing along with 1,199 yards rushing with 20 more scores.  Last year, he totaled almost 14-hundred yards of offense in seven games.

He’s far from a one-man gang on offense however.  Top receiver and younger brother Wyatt Sprague caught 23 passes as a freshman and scored three times.  Carlos Legarreta ran for 231 yards as a junior and we expect sophomore Tyson Mosenteen to play more a role in 2021.  He had 14 touches on offense last year with a total of 132 yards and three scores.

On defense, the Dragons lost top tackler and leader Joey Beckner but the next 11 of 12 players on the defensive lists are back.  Miles Sprague also leads that list with 64 stops followed by Aidyn Shafer (63).

Rye has game experience and tremendous momentum based on their win over 2A Manitou Springs last week.  The Thunderbolts trailed the spring state champions 20-7 in the fourth quarter but tallied two late scores to stun the Mustangs 21-20.  Rye churned out 284 yards rushing with Caleb Hurne (133) and Dylan Hurne (102) both going past 100 yards.  Nolan Schauer added another 53 yards passing; including a key 23-yard completion to Codah Graber.  On defense, Rye created three turnovers and got 13 tackles from Caleb Hurne.

Strasburg fell from second to fourth in the rankings this week as they suffered just their sixth loss overall since joining the Class 1A division before the 2016 season.  They’ve reached the state final every year as a 1A club including championships in 2016 and 2017.  But the 2021 campaign opened with an 18-7 loss to 2A ranked Platte Valley.   The Indians feature almost a completely new backfield so it’s not unexpected they struggled a bit in moving the football.  Zach Marrero ran for 104 yards and caught three passes for 65 yards.  He also scored the team’s lone TD.  Tallin Hall added 58 yards on the ground and sophomore Landen Martin threw for 70 yards in his first varsity start.

Up next is another test with Yuma.  The Indians were mentioned to us by several coaches in the preseason as a team to watch in 2021.  They didn’t disappoint in their opener; racing past Burns WY 41-6.  QB Clay Robinson attempted just four passes but ran for 242 yards on just 14 carries.  He reached the end zone on four of those carries.

Overall, the Indians finished with 371 yards rushing with Yahir Trejo chipping in 79 and a score.

Remainder of the Top 10

#2 Centauri vs Colorado Springs Christian:  The Falcons had the best win in Class 1A last week as they downed Wray 28-14 in a top 10 clash.  Mason Claunch ran for 150 yards and his two second half touchdowns were the difference.  Devon Brady’s interception setup the first score which gave the Falcons a 21-14 lead in the third quarter.  Byron Shawcroft also threw for 159 yards.  CSCS gave up an early 21-7 lead at Aspen in a 42-21 opening loss.

#3 Florence at Clear Creek:  With 29 first quarter points, Florence made very quick work of Peyton in a 50-0 blowout.  The Huskies did that damage on just 23 offensive plays and averaged nearly 16 yards on every rushing attempt.  Jian Aguilar ended with 141 yards and three TDs on five carries; Jacob Kennedy scored on two of his three attempts.  Clear Creek did not crack the goal line in a tough 16-0 opening loss to 2A Middle Park.

#5 Buena Vista at Banning Lewis:  Buena Vista used a backfield by committee approach in downing Salida 47-0 last week.  The Demons ran for 235 yards overall with five backs ending the night with between 33 and 56 yards.  Those five were Jacob Phelps (56), Haden Camp (54), Zandon Mitchell (48), Chris Deluca (44) and Ethan Flavin (33).  Camp also completed 11 of 17 passes for 92 yards and a score.  Banning Lewis did not play last week but is coming off a solid 3-3 campaign last Fall.

#6 Wray at Goodland KS:  A much shorter trip for the Eagles this week.  As mentioned, they came up short at Centauri 28-14 last week and look to balance their early season record by beating a Kansas opponent.  It will be the season opener for Goodland as Kansas does not open football until Labor Day weekend each year.  They were 3-4 a year ago.  Jaden Dodsworth completed 11 of 24 passes for 144 yards in his first game action in two years.  He connected with Andrew Trejo and Bryant Schoenthal on touchdowns.

#7 North Fork – BYE WEEK:  The program’s debut was a success as the Miners took out Center 42-8.  Now they prep for a much tougher test against Monte Vista on September 10th.  Mordecai White ran for 70 yards and three scores in last week’s win but seven other players got the chance to carry the football as the Miners attempted just two passes.  Defensively, they limited the Vikings to 66 total yards.

#10 Wiggins vs Valley:  Dual threat QB Cole Kerr was involved in five touchdowns and amassed 340 total yards in the Tigers opening 38-21 win of then 10th ranked Highland.  The win pushed Wiggins into the rankings this week.  Kerr hit on 14 of 22 passes for 224 yards with Jayson Lousberg and Omar Perez each catching two TD tosses.  Perez ended up with nine receptions for 152 yards.  Kerr also added 115 yards rushing.  Valley lost to 3A Steamboat Springs 28-15 last Saturday.

Outside the Rankings

Bennett at Highland:  Sam Hzindil completed 21 of 33 passes for 180 yards and two scores and added 68 yards on the ground but it wasn’t enough as the Huskies fell to Wiggins.  Highland allowed 423 yards of offense including 198 on the ground and this week they face a strong Bennett ground game.  The Tigers did not play last week but won five of seven games last year and averaged 266 yards per game on the ground a year ago.

Flatirons Academy at Platte Canyon:  Coming off the best season in school history, Flatirons Academy has high hopes in 2021.  They make their season debut on Saturday in Bailey; about four months after losing a very tight game with Manitou Springs in the Season C state championship.  The Bison went for two points in the second overtime but couldn’t convert in a 31-30 loss.  Platte Canyon scored 16 third quarter points to break open a scoreless tie and went on to blank Del Norte 18-0 in their season opener.