1A FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK 2

Over the past couple of years, football fans have been hard pressed to find a better regular season game than the series between Strasburg and Bennett.  And this season could be more of the same as the bitter I-70 neighbors enter the game ranked first and second in Class 1A.  The matchup is one of at least nice rivalries found in week two.
 
#1 Strasburg vs #2 Bennett
Two years ago, Bennett pulled off a fourth quarter rally to stun Strasburg 40-39 and last year the Indians won an offensive shootout 55-44.  In addition to the 178 points scored, the teams have combined for over 17-hundred yards of offense.  Last year, Bennett compiled 393 yards but that fell well short of the Indians and their 566-yard effort.
This year though the Tigers may be a bit more explosive.  They return 1,000-yard rushers Rocky Lechman and Jesse Rodriguez and both are coming off 100-yard games in last week’s blowout of Cornerstone Christian.  Mason Wakeham also joined the triple-digit party with 103 yards and with the other two combined for six touchdowns.  Overall the Tigers ran for 512 yards on 50 carries.
Strasburg conversely was “held” to 24 points in their win at Burlington in week one.  The Indians were held under 40 points only twice during their state championship run last season but are working in new skill players at many positions this year.
One of those is Carson Spence.  Taking over from Connor Martin at QB, Spence completed five of 10 passes for 135 yards and a TD against Burlington, but also tossed a pair of interceptions.  He added 50 yards on the ground to compliment Hunter Bergstrom who picked up 62 in the opener.
The winner will be the number one team when new polls are published on Monday and the team that ends on top also lands the upper hand in playoff bracketing.  Both teams are favored to land league championships to get automatic post-season invites and Friday’s winner could be in position for the number one overall seed.  Provided they take care of the business the rest of the regular season.
 
#6 Limon v #7 Crowley County
Limon picked up a defensive minded 14-7 win over Crowley County last year snapping a three-game skid against the Chargers.  Coach Brandon Roe’s club topped the Badgers in both 2014 and 2015 to win the South Central league championship.  With realignment before last season, they were placed in different conferences but have continued to matchup in non-league action.
The teams are a combined 3-0 on the young season.  Crowley County has allowed only 14 points in beating Colorado Springs Christian and John Mall.  Limon put a mark in the win column by beating Rocky Ford 44-12 in last week’s opener.
Coach Mike O’Dwyer’s club ran for 394 yards in the win including 178 from junior fullback Hauk Hubbard.  He’s likely be the focus of the physical Crowley County defense but the Chargers may also pay attention to Canaan Bennett.  A second-year starter at QB, he threw for 134 yards and two scores and added 94 yards rushing against the Meloneers.  Freshman Kory Tacha added 61 yards on seven attempts.
Six players have already reached double figures in tackles for the Chargers.  Chris Meyers leads the group with 14 while the trio of Brett Geringer, Jared Bauer and Lane Walter each have a dozen.  Jaden Harris and Hayden Carter each have ten stops.   Overall, the Chargers have forced three turnovers and collected six sacks.
 
Salida at Buena Vista
This is the third rivalry game of the week as the Chaffee County rivals meet again.  Even though the Spartans are 2-0 and could be favored, the series of late has not been very kind.  Buena Vista has won six straight overall and last year picked up a 36-23 decision.  But the five years prior, the Demons dominated the Spartans to the tune of 267-6 including four consecutive shutouts.  Salida has not won since downing the Demons in the 2010 season.
The Spartans have opened with wins over Summit (34-6) and Pagosa Springs (30-22).  Much of the success can be credited to the passing game as Bridger Russell has thrown for 475 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.  Sevrin Kaess has 14 catches for 189 yards and three scores.  The other two touchdowns have gone to Eli Smith.
Buena Vista is coming off a late 37-7 loss at Alamosa last Friday.  We say late because the game didn’t kick off until after 9:00pm and finished just before midnight.  The Demons have likely worked heavily on the defensive side after surrendering 465 yards.
 
#8 Monte Vista at Ellicott
Arguably the best win of week one went to Monte Vista as the Pirates slammed Cedaredge 31-8.  With the victory, Monte basically replaced the Bruins in the polls.  Cedaredge was 8th last week and now the Pirates hold down the spot.
A physical running game pushed Monte Vista as Jacob Chavez churned out 167 yards and three touchdowns.  The rest of the team added 92 yards.  Defensively, the Pirates forced four turnovers and used gang tackling to limit Cedaredge to the one score.  Cedric Perea and Jared Atencio collected 13 tackles.  Oscar Diaz and Andrew Martinez added a dozen.
Ellicott looks to rebound from a tough loss to Wray last week 41-12.  After giving up 490 yards rushing to the Eagles, the Monte Vista matchup may not be a good one for their defense.
 
#5 Centauri vs Pagosa Springs
The Falcons were the biggest movers in the rankings this week as they came from outside the top 10 to sit fifth.  Much of that move came from their zero week win over then 4th ranked Paonia 20-13.  The Falcons then added a lopsided win over Rye to enter the Pagosa Springs battle at 2-0.
Centauri won last year’s battle 20-7.  Nate Anderson, who totaled 195 yards of offense against Paonia in zero week, combined for 166 yards against the Pirates a year ago.  Pagosa could not pull off a late rally against Salida in last week’s 30-22 loss.  The Pirates last put together a winning season in 2011 (7-3) and have won just ten games since.
 
#4 Peyton vs Highland
A battle of returning playoff teams, this could be a good matchup.  Last year Peyton won a narrow 24-22 decision.
The Panthers have posted back-to-back shutouts to open the season beating Trinidad and Byers by a combined 91 points.  Nate McLarty leads the defense with 21 tackles, Tyler Noffsinger has 17 and Mitchell Swartz 16.  The Panthers have already recorded 14.5 sacks including four from McLarty.
Highland looks to take some of that pressure away by establishing the running game.  The Huskies collected 213 yards in last week’s win over Front Range Christian.  Freshman Holden Morgan led the charge with 97 yards and a touchdown.  Koby Anderson and Logan Stewart also reached the end zone.
 
#3 Meeker at Holyoke (Saturday)
Some 395 miles separate the two teams but they meet for the second straight year.  It’s the difficulty small schools have in finding quality opponents, especially they reside in the corners of the state.
Meeker knocked off Coal Ridge 30-7 last week but the game was much closer.  The Cowboys didn’t break open until scoring 14 fourth quarter points turning a nine-point lead into a 23-point victory.  For the second straight game, the Cowboys displayed offensive balance picking up 170 yards rushing and 153 passing.  Logan Hughes also connected with Trapper Merrifield for two touchdown passes.
In beating Bridgeport NE, Holyoke chalked up a win for new coach Dusty Sprague.  The former Dragons standout has been an assistant with the program for a few years but this season is in charge.  His defense came up with two goal line stands including inside the five yard line in the final.  Turnovers also played a role as the Dragons recovered four fumbles.
 
#9 Paonia vs Rye
Somewhat of an unusual early season matchup between the Eagles and Thunderbolts.  Both teams are 0-1 and each has lost to Centauri.  Both have new head coaches as either Blaine Escher of Paonia or Patrick Baker of Rye will grab their first head coaching win.  Paonia is favored.  They return Jaden Miller who ran for 150 yards against Centauri.  Rye is struggling with depth again as they feature just 25 players on the MaxPreps roster.
 
#10 Grand Valley at Basalt
We covered this game a bit in our 2A report but Cardinals QB Jeff Holbrook could be in for a big day as he’ll lineup against a Longhorns defense that gave up 490 yards rushing in a zero-week loss to Rifle.  Holbrook last week ran and passed for over 100 yards in a season opening win over Vail Christian.  Basalt though has had two weeks to work on things since the opening loss and last year rolled Grand Valley 49-7.  Holbrook still managed 98 yards passing and 99 yards on the ground in the loss.
 
Wray vs Goodland KS
After not winning more than five games in the past four years and missing the post-season the last two, the former 1A state contending Eagles could be on the rebound.  As mentioned, they garnered nearly 500 yards rushing in their impressive road win at Ellicott last week.  If they get by the Cowboys this week, the Eagles have a good shot at being 4-0 going into conference play against Limon on the 29th.
Cade Hillman ran for 196 yards and scored five times last week.  Freshman Junior Arambula added 110 yards and just four carries.  He also scored a touchdown.
 
 

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