Some of the best regular season contests inside Class 1A football the past couple of years have featured games between Strasburg-Bennett and Limon-Crowley County. Those Eastern Colorado rivalries continue this weekend and the matchups headline the week three schedule.
Because Bennett has moved to Class 2A for at least the next two years, the game does not carry the same level of importance of the past couple of years as both teams were battling for the 1A title. But intensity between the two clubs and fan bases remain so a hotly contested game is again expected this Friday.
Neither team has tasted defeat this year. Top ranked Strasburg has opened with wins over University (35-13) and Burlington (13-6). Defense carried the two-time champs last week as they limited Burlington just 47 yards rushing. Strasburg got a strong performance from Michael Spence who, because of injury, stepped in at quarterback and both ran and threw for a touchdown.
#8 Bennett (2A) was not pushed in blowing past Ellicott 62-0. Their win featured five one-play drives. On the ground, the Tigers generated 437 yards and eight touchdowns and featured two 100-yard rushers in Mason Wakeham (127) and Jordan Despues (101). Wakeham scored on an 88-yard run and Despues reached his total on just two carries which both resulted in touchdowns. Joe Jordan and Mac Copeland each scored twice.
Strasburg and Bennett split two games last year with the Tigers taking the regular season battle (37-14) and the Indians winning the playoff battle (41-34) on their way to a second consecutive state championship. The two prior years featured high scoring battles with Bennett winning 40-39 in 2015 and Strasburg outscoring the Tigers 55-14 in 2016.
Points have been much harder to come by in recent battles between #2 Limon and #7 Crowley County. They’ve met five times since 2014 and neither team has scored more than 27 points in any game. They also met twice last year with Limon winning both matchups. The Badgers pitched a 27-0 shutout in the regular season and then posted a 19-6 decision in the state quarterfinals. Limon also won in 2016 but Crowley County scored back-to-back playoff wins in 2014 (25-0) and 2015 (14-13).
With so many new faces in critical spots on offense, the Chargers may be a bit ahead of schedule as they’ve scored 88 combined points in wins over Ridgeview Academy and Rye to open the season. Tyler Schwartz has anchored the running game with 262 yards and four touchdowns in the two wins. QB Adam Schultz has added 169 yards rushing with four touchdowns and 116 yards passing with two more scores.
Limon rolled Lamar 41-7 in their opener. The Badgers led 14-0 after one quarter and then blew it wide open with four second quarter touchdowns. They ran for 222 yards on 34 attempts including 82 from Kory Tacha and 63 from Hauk Hubbard. Cannan Bennett finished with just 14 yards but he scored twice and added a touchdown pass as well.
Defensively, both teams have also been stout. Limon’s group forced four turnovers in their win as Braden Sandersfeld intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble. Crowley County features five players already in double figures in tackles; a group led by Zach Auchterlonie with 17.
The week three schedule actually gets underway on Thursday as #5 Peyton is home to Colorado Springs Christian. It could be a good game as both teams have a shot at a conference championship or at worst a wildcard playoff berth later this year. Neither was pushed in their opener as Peyton rolled Florence 41-0 and Colorado Springs Christian whipped Sheridan 42-6.
Both clubs have the ability to throw the football but neither had to in week one. QB Caleb Stockton attempted just two passes because the Lions ran for 421 yards. Joe Dunn finished with 230 yards and Peyton Brones added 132 and each scored three touchdowns. Trevor Walker also threw just two passes as Peyton totaled 260 yards on the ground. JD Hart led the way with 114 yards and two touchdowns. Walker had 63 and Josh Gonzales 56. One of Walker’s passes also went for a score.
#3 Centauri opened the season with a strong 38-0 blanking of Paonia and now gets ready for Pagosa Springs in week three. The visiting Pirates are winless (0-2) but nearly upset #2 La Junta last week. They led the defending state runners-up 14-12 at half before surrendering two second half scores in a 24-14 setback.
As expected the Falcons relied heavily on their defense last week. The Falcons allowed just 95 yards and gave up 2.5 yards per carry in the win.
Paonia looks to rebound from the opening loss by beating Monte Vista on the road this Friday. Both teams are not only looking for their first win but first points of the season as the Pirates were also shutout last week in a 24-0 loss to Alamosa.
In struggling against Centauri, the Eagles had just four plays of ten yards or more. Monte Vista created just 111 yards of offense against Alamosa.
Cedaredge heads to Buena Vista in an important game for both clubs as each is entering a brutal three game stretch to close out non-conference play. The Demons visit Salida and Centauri over the next couple of weeks and wins in all three games set them up for an eight or nine-win regular season. Cedaredge must battle through the rugged Western Slope league schedule but also has Aspen and Salida on deck after this week.
The Bruins outscored Steamboat Springs 34-26 last week. Their running game was at full speed generating 323 yards and five touchdowns. Jared Reynolds reached pay dirt four times and led the team with 149 yards overall. Wade Barnard added 72 and Dusty Emig 56. The defense also created two turnovers and recorded five sacks including two from Barnard.
Buena Vista got a big effort from QB Parker Johnson in their 26-6 win over Platte Canyon. He ran and threw for 103 yards apiece and was involved in three touchdowns in the win. Scoring passes went to Andy Limoncelli and Garett Hickins. More importantly the defense did not allow Platte Canyon control the clock with their running game as they had just 50 plays compared to 46 for the Demons.
Despite opening with another loss to Strasburg, #3 Burlington could easily be 3-1 before entering North Central league play. The Cougars go to Ellicott this week and then face Lamar and Manual. They will be favored in all three.
#6 Wray is coming off a bye and will host Sheridan in week three. The Eagles running game could put together huge numbers against a Rams defense that allowed 421 yards rushing to CSCS last week.
#8 Meeker has a bye this week. The Cowboys evened their mark at 1-1 by beating 2A Coal Ridge last week. They have a big date at #2 Limon in week four.
Following a solid 2-0 start, Holyoke has entered the rankings at #9 this week. The Dragons outscored Haxtun and Lyons 87-0 in their first two games and another shutout is possible when they line up against Bridgeport NE. The Nebraska club is 0-2 on the season and has not scored a point in either game. Holyoke won the meeting 12-8 a year ago.
#10 Cornerstone Christian begins a stretch of three games against the North Central as they visit Yuma on Saturday. They face Wray and Wiggins in their next two games.
Both teams were on opposite ends of shutouts in week two. Cornerstone topped Prospect Ridge 22-0 and Yuma failed to reach the end zone in a 27-0 loss to Pine Bluffs WY. Cornerstone had two 100-yard rushers in their win as Dillon Zastrocky totaled 141 and Jackson Sheppard 101.