Our 1A football preview for week three includes a look at a couple of rivalry games, a rematch of a past state championship game and two contests involving four clubs seeking their first win of the young season.
Bennett (1-0) at Strasburg (2-0)
Fans of this rivalry along I-70 have been treated to some fantastic games in the past few years. Three of the past five battles are among the best the state has had to offer in any class. Strasburg avenged a regular season loss in 2017 by downing the Tigers 41-34 in the playoffs. That win helped the Indians win a second straight state title. Strasburg outscored the Tigers 55-44 in a wild 2016 contest and Bennett used a late score to stun the Indians 40-39 in 2015. Overall since 2015, Strasburg has won three games and Bennett two.
The Indians have beaten University (45-28) and Burlington (19-6) this season. The ground game was the difference against Burlington as Strasburg rang up 305 yards and held the Cougars to just 42. Trystan Graff led the charge with 161 yards on just eight attempts. Collin Russell also continued his solid early play by both running and throwing for a touchdown.
Bennett rolled Ellicott 54-0 last week and it was over early with the Tigers netting 33 points in the opening quarter. The rushing numbers are a bit staggering as they finished with 340 yards on only 22 attempts. Nine players reached double figures in yardage. Mac Copeland had one carry for 68 yards and Dillon Copeland went for 65 on just two.
Crowley County (1-1) at Limon (1-0)
Not as close in proximity as Strasburg-Bennett, but this annual meeting has also developed into a nice rivalry. Regular visitors to the playoffs, each team is also routinely in contention for league championships and a home game in round one.
Limon began what will be a rugged 2019 schedule by holding off 2A Lamar 36-27. After facing the Chargers on Friday, the Badgers must then contend with Meeker and Strasburg before battling Burlington, Holyoke and Wray inside the North Central schedule.
In game one of their 100th year, Limon churned out 294 yards rushing including big games from Kory Tacha (176) and Jeremiah Leeper (107). They totaled three TD’s and averaged seven yards per carry. Sophomore QB Trey Hines also put together a nice first varsity start; completing six of ten attempts for 100 yards and two scores. Leeper caught one scoring pass and Alex Carr the other.
Crowley County also starts a sophomore at quarterback and Tach Brewer keeps improving each week. He hit five of ten passes for 81 yards in an opening win over Ridgeview Academy and then went 6 of 15 for 118 yards in a loss to Rye. He has thrown two interceptions in each game and must limit turnovers against Limon this week.
The Chargers would also like to establish a better game after picking up just 52 yards against Rye’s stout defense. The defense also allowed 196 yards on a whopping 51 attempts and could not get off the field in key situations.
Buena Vista (1-0) at Cedaredge (1-0)
Cedaredge topped Buena Vista 18-12 to capture the 2012 state championship and both enter the contest with momentum based on strong wins in week one. The Bruins took out 3A Steamboat Springs 21-13 and Buena Vista downed Platte Canyon 21-8.
The win for the Bruins was the first for new coach Craig Cerise who is very familiar with West Slope football but in his first year with the Bruins. Dusty Emig gained 178 yards with a touchdown to lead the offense and also paced the defense with a team best 10 tackles. Jacob Brown was also factor on both sides as the threw two touchdown passes and intercepted three passes. They were part of a five turnover night for the Cedaredge defense.
Buena Vista forced three turnovers against Plate Canyon with Seth Moss and Malachi Bardol both recording 11 tackles. Kaden McFee added eight. On offense, the Demons totaled 153 yards rushing including 76 from Brandan Cattell. Kik Molitor tossed two touchdown passes; both to Luke Yates.
Monte Vista (0-1) at Paonia (0-1)
In suffering week one losses, each club came away with the knowledge they can move the football but must get better on the defensive side. Paonia picked up 180 yards rushing in a 33-0 loss to Centauri but also surrendered 290 yards of offense to the Falcons. Monte Vista gained 167 yards rushing in a 40-14 setback to Alamosa but allowed the Moose offense 298 yards rushing and another 228 through the air.
Individually, Logan Green led Paonia with 61 yards while Anthony Miller added 48 and Grey Neal 42. Neal paced the defense with 11 tackles and Shane Odom chipped in 10. Kaidon Wenta topped Monte Vista with 136 yards rushing and also completed four passes for another 86 yards.
The game is crucial for both teams as each faces a tough non-conference schedule moving forward. Paonia meets 2A rivals Coal Ridge and Basalt in their next two while Monte Vista goes up against Florence and Rocky Ford.
Peyton (0-1) at Colorado Springs Christian (0-1)
A second contest on our list featuring a pair of teams that came up short in week one. Colorado Springs Christian lost a physical battle at Holyoke 21-6 while Peyton was taken out by Florence 34-0. Both clubs look to right the ship here in week three.
The Lions are favored. Despite last week’s loss, they compiled strong offensive numbers including 227 yards on the ground. Peyton Brones (137) and Joe Dun (64) led the way. This week, that duo faces a Peyton defense that gave up 259 yards and five touchdowns on the ground against Florence.
The Panthers are working through finding roles for almost a completely new roster. Colton Murray threw for 45 yards and ran for 18 in his first varsity start. West Hart added 46 yards on the ground for a group that managed just 122 yards overall. The defense showed some good signs as they forced three turnovers. Brandon Hussey had 11 tackles and Ethan Reza 10.
Others to Watch
Yuma (1-0) at Flatirons Academy (1-0)
Flatirons Academy is a new name for a program previously listed as Cornerstone Christian so the two clubs do have a history. And there’s a strange note in the series as the last two games have both finished 12-7. Yuma took the win in 2018 and Flatirons came out on top in 2017.
Neither team was pushed in their first game; Yuma took out Pine Bluffs WY 44-3 and Flatirons dropped Prospect Ridge 48-6. The Indians hope the win gets the program headed in the right direction as they’ve not won more than three games since 2013. They need non-conference wins to get because victories in the rugged North Central are hard to come by. Flatirons will realize that in a few weeks as after Yuma they also face Wray and Wiggins from the league.
Rye (2-0) at John Mall (0-1)
Rye is probably the biggest surprise in Class 1A thus far. They’ve not made the playoffs since 2015 but have opened this season with back-to-back shutouts. Last week was an attention getter as they blanked Crowley County 20-0. The Thunderbolts have forced seven turnovers through two games with Robert Buford collecting both a fumble recovery and interception. Kreed Rahl, Bryce Benz and Hayden Polk share the team lead with 12 tackles apiece and Johnny Marquez has 11.
Offense is by committee as the Thunderbolts have generated 470 yards on the ground and attempted only six passes. Three backs have at least 100 yards on the season led by Benz with 135.
John Mall suffered a tough loss in their opener; falling to St Mary’s 15-14. The Panthers led 14-2 through three quarters but then gave up 13 fourth quarter points. They ran for 255 yars including 224 from Wesley Van Matre. Those numbers may be difficult to match against the rugged Rye defense.