1A FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK 3

Going through the 1A schedule this week, it became quickly apparent that the schedule was one-sided.  Centauri’s trip to Olathe is the only game featuring two unbeaten teams squaring off and only two others, Wray at Highland and Cornerstone Christian vs Front Range Christian, have teams at five hundred or better meeting.  All remaining contests have teams with winning records favored over those with losing marks.  The result could be many lopsided scores.
 
#5 Centauri (3-0) at #10 Olathe (2-0)
Neither team reached the playoffs a year but both seem on their way with a combined 5-0 start.  Each club of course has a chance at an automatic playoff berth through a league title but if not, then this game could help determine if either or both qualify as a wildcard.
Centauri stayed perfect in beating Pagosa Springs 36-17 but it wasn’t easy.  The Falcons led just 14-10 at intermission but used two quick scores in the third to blow it open.  Nate Anderson tossed a 70-yard TD pass to Sam Anderson and then Taj Cornum scored from three yards out.  That quick burst turned the lead into a 27-10 advantage and the Falcons were not pushed the rest of the way.
It was a better test for Centauri after rolling Rye the week before where they needed just 31 plays to record six touchdowns.
Olathe has been very solid in beating 2A rivals Roaring Fork (49-0) and Gunnison (47-18).  The Pirates haven’t made the playoffs since 2013 and they’re trying for a return to the glory days where they captured state titles in 2008 and 2010.
Cesar Suarez and Dillon Nelson have provided big play ability for the Pirate offense.  Suarez is averaging nearly 14 yards per carry with 338 yards and three touchdowns on just 25 carries.  Nelson, from his QB slot, has added 186 yards and four scores on his 21 attempts.  Overall the Pirates average 432 yards per game on the ground but could face a challenge from a physical Centauri defense.
 
Wray (1-1) at Highland (2-1)
In facing and beating Peyton last week, Highland’s defense got in some nice preparation for their Friday battle with Wray.  Like the Panthers, Wray will be run-dominated and look to control the line of scrimmage.
Peyton did manage 197 yards rushing but the Huskies defense also forced and recovered three fumbles.  Zach Jackson, Elliott Friesen and Tucker Marsh were on the spot there and with interceptions from Holden Morgan and Tavis Bentley, Highland generated five turnovers in the win.  Offensively, the Huskies ran for 208 yards including 111 and both touchdowns from Trey Allmon.
The game is a big one for Highland.  In addition to Peyton last week, the Huskies also challenge 3rd ranked Strasburg in week four so they’re in the middle of a crucial three-game stretch.
Wray’s offense was limited to just 138 yards rushing on 41 carries in a 35-6 loss to Goodland KS last week.  Cade Hillman ran for just 21 yards after picking up 196 in the opening win over Ellicott.  In the loss, Wray averaged only 3.4 yards per carry.
Friday’s outcome is also important to Wray as the Eagles are trying to snap a two-year slide of missing the playoffs.  They have Cornerstone Christian on the schedule next so a win on Friday gets them in position for a 3-1 start entering conference play.
 
Cornerstone Christian (1-1) and Front Range Christian (1-1)
Neither team has generated much offense through two weeks.  Cornerstone has just 19 points on their resume but is 1-1 thanks to a stingy defense in last weeks’ 12-7 win over Yuma.  Front Range has scored 27 points in their two games but managed a one-point win over Lyons (14-13) last weekend.
Quarterback play was strong for both teams in the victories.  Zachary Dube threw for 158 yards and two TD’s for Cornerstone while Braden Wehr finished with 154 yards on 10 completions for Front Range.
#1 Bennett (2-0) at Ellicott (1-2)
On paper, this is not a good matchup for Ellicott.  The Tigers have rushed for nearly 900-yards in wins over Cornerstone Christian and Strasburg.  The Thunderhawks have allowed 800 on the ground in back-to-back losses to Wray and Monte Vista.
Bennett powered their way to 383 yards on just 33 attempts in taking out defending state champion Strasburg 37-14.  With the win, the Tigers moved into the number one ranking for the first time in school history.  Rocky Lechman finished with 186 yards and two TD’s and Jesse Rodriguez added 112 yards and a score.  Mason Wakeham provided another 70 yards and a fourth rushing touchdown.
 
#3 Strasburg (1-1) at University (1-1)
The Indians are in somewhat new territory as they’re planning for a game coming off a loss for the first time since the 2015 regular season.  They snapped a 14-game winning streak in last week’s loss to Bennett and the decision cost them two spots in the rankings.  Coach Jeff Giger’s club is expected to bounce back with a win this week as they trounced University 50-7 a year ago.
The Bulldogs led Fort Lupton 34-0 at intermission last week and cruised to their first win of the young season.  10 different ball carriers totaled 214 yards including a team high 79 from Noah Serrano.  Fellow senior Eli Ontiveros chipped in 68 yards with two touchdowns.  QB Chayden Cox completed just two passes but both went for scores.
 
#4 Limon (2-0) at Rye (0-2)
The defensive unit was very strong for Limon in last week’s 27-0 shutout of Crowley County.  The Badgers forced three turnovers and held the Chargers to 3.3 yards per rushing attempt and only 65 yards passing.  Nathanial Lee led the effort with 13 stops and freshman Kory Tacha added eight.  Jaron Carpenter returned an interception 50 yards to set up a score.
On offense, the Badgers continue to show good balance.  QB Canaan Bennett threw for 120 yards and two TD’s and the running game generated 173.
Limon coach Mike O’Dwyer is hoping to make quick work of the Thunderbolt.  Next on the Badgers schedule are big battles with Strasburg and Wray and he would like to give his starters some early rest.
Through two games, Rye has totaled just three points and has a combined minus three yards rushing in losses to Paonia and Centauri.
 
#6 Monte Vista (2-0) vs Pagosa Springs (0-2)
Monte Vista is expected to battle Centauri for the 1A Southern Peaks crown and since the Falcons beat Pagosa Springs last week, the outcome of this one could give us an indication of which team is favored to land the title.
Coach Manny Wasinger’s club has been impressive in posting double digit wins over Cedaredge and Ellicott.  Both opponents were in the pre-season top 10.  Jacob Chavez is a big reason for the success.  The fullback ran the ball 34 times for 200 yards and scored all four Pirate touchdowns in last weeks’ win.
Pagosa, as mentioned, played well for two quarters in the battle with Centauri but then gave up two touchdowns in the decisive third quarter.
 
#7 Paonia (1-1) vs Ridgeview Academy (0-2)
The Eagles balanced their record with last week’s 44-3 blowout of Rye last week.  They chewed up 287 yards on the ground with five touchdowns.  Jaden Miller did most of the damage totaling 170 yards and three scores.  Jesse Burns added 0 yard, Caden Meilner 37 and Sackett Chesnik 30.
Ridgeview Academy has losses to Academy (32-6) and Moffat County (25-8) this year.  The Rams picked up just one win a year ago but it’s difficult to win there as Coach Jason Lane never knows what his roster will look like from year to year.
 
#8 Platte Canyon (2-0) vs Buena Vista (0-2) — SATURDAY
Platte Canyon picked up a very impressive win at Buena Vista last year downing the Demons 16-8.  The Huskies had the ball for 61 plays compared to just 33 for Buena Vista and the strategy will be the same for the rematch in Bailey.
The Huskies have combined to run the ball 84 times for 534 yards and seven touchdowns in wins over Sheridan and Wiggins.  With 244 yards and five appearances in the end zone, senior Trevor Sander has been the most effective individual.  QB Liam Murphy has attempted only nine passes but has completed eight for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
Buena Vista, coming off lopsided losses to 2A opponents Alamosa and Salida, appears to be in rebuild mode.  They also have Centauri on the schedule next as they work their way through a very difficult non-conference schedule.
 
Byes
Both 2nd ranked Meeker and 9th ranked Peyton have the week off.  Meeker (3-0) has used strong second half play the past couple of weeks outscoring Coal Ridge and Holyoke 44-0 after intermission.  The Cowboys next face Monte Vista which could be a very big game if the Pirates get by Pagosa Springs on Friday.
Peyton has two weeks to recover from the frustrating loss to Highland.  Ball security is likely a topic in the Panthers camp this week and next.  As mentioned, they surrendered five turnovers against the Huskies.  It was their first regular season loss since 2015.
The Panthers finish the non-conference schedule against Ellicott in week four and then begins defense of their Tri Peaks title against Rye the following week.
 
 

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