The 1A football schedule for week 7 includes two possible league championship games between Highland-Strasburg and Monte Vista-Centauri and possibly a third as Jefferson meets Platte Canyon. We look at those three matchups and several others as team continue the league championship and playoff quest.
Buena Vista (4-) at Colorado Springs Christian (4-1)
This is the next in a line of important games inside the Tri Peaks as the conference has four teams in the top 14 of RPI this week. Colorado Springs Christian is 12th and Buena Vista 14th and both trail league rivals Florence (8th) and Rye (11th). Florence blew past Rye for an important opening win last week.
For CSCS, this is the conference opener as they downed Ignacio 42-0 last week. They scored three touchdowns in both the first and second quarter and used a running clock in the second half to make it a very quick game. Caleb Stockton threw for 134 yards; his most of the season of the season and third straight over 100 yards. He completed seven of eight attempts with three touchdowns; two of which went to Joe Dunn.
Buena Vista rolled St Mary’s 34-7 last week; totaling 193 yards rushing and 137 passing. Jacob Phelps picked up 117 yards and 2 TD’s on the ground and Kik Molitor threw for 122 yards and a third score.
This week’s game begins a crucial and difficult stretch for the Demons as they face Florence and Rye over the next two weeks.
Monte Vista (1-4) at Centauri (4-1)
Another game on our 1A list that should decide a league championship as the winner should land the Southern Peaks title. The Falcons have won three straight in the series and are heavily favored to do so again. They’ve not lost a league game since September 30th 2016 (Center) and over the last two years has won every conference contest by at least 27 points. That doesn’t count three forfeits including two last year.
Narrow non-league losses to Paonia (17-14) and Rocky Ford (13-12) may cost Monte Vista the chance to play into November. But their playoff hopes change dramatically if they can upset the Falcons this week. Kaidon Wenta ran for 132 yards and three scores in last week’s conference opening win over Dolores (45-6). He also threw for 90 yards.
Centauri’s defense has given up just eight points in their four wins and they’ve posted three shutouts. They beat Center 41-8 last week and a win this week should sew up a fourth consecutive league title.
Highland (3-2) at Strasburg (4-1)
The last three years the outcome of this game has decided first and second place in the Northern conference and the trend could continue this year. Flatirons Academy is 9th in RPI and may play a role in the top two spots but the winner here becomes the conference favorite. Strasburg (5-0) is ranked #1 by the coaches and #2 by RPI. Highland (3-2) has used a strong schedule for their #5 ranking in RPI.
The high status in the RPI bodes well for Highland and their playoff chances. They’ve been a regular member of the bracket but have been on the lower end of the seeding which means they face a strong team in the opening round. If they can stay in the top five, the Huskies will be in the running to nab the wildcard spot that also gets to play at home in round one of the playoffs. That scenario would boost their chances of advancing past the first round.
Of course, a win over Strasburg likely puts Highland at home as the conference champion. But doing so won’t be easy. The Indians are 16-0 all-time in the North Central conference including last week’s blowout of Lyons (69-0). In those 16 wins, Strasburg has won all but one game by at least 28 points. The exception came last year in a 18-0 shutout of Highland.
Trystan Graff ran for 172 yards and five touchdowns on just 10 carries against Lyons last week. Overall the Indians tallied 314 yards and seven scores on just 20 attempts. Highland picked up 385 yards rushing in last week’s 49-7 win over Pinnacle. Holden Morgan led the way with 183 yards and three TDs and Caleb Polk added 100 yards on just eight attempts.
Jefferson (3-2) at Platte Canyon (1-4)
We’ve made the statement the last couple of week that the Foothills will likely get just one playoff bid and the RPI numbers continue to prove that out. Jefferson is 23rd in RPI but the Saints are the highest ranked team from the conference. They opened league play with a forfeit win over Lake County which followed up victories over Pinnacle and St Mary’s in non-league play.
Platte Canyon earned their first win of the season against Clear Creek last week (38-28) and it was a big one as it puts them in position to land a post-season berth. They need to win the conference to get there as they’re 28th in RPI. But if the Huskies get by Jefferson, they simply need to get by Sheridan, Lake County and Manual to lock down the league title. Those teams have just three combined wins.
The Huskies rang up 400 yards rushing and four touchdowns last week. Lucas Murphy had 166 yards and Matthew Bracknell 157.
Holyoke (5-0) at Burlington (2-3)
The Dragons are highest ranked team in the RPI as they’ve moved past five opponents with a combined winning percentage of .598. They’ve outscored foes 141-33 but have been tested in quality wins over Colorado Springs Christian and Highland.
Miles Sprague threw for 224 yards and Blake Mosenteen rushed for 98 yards and two scores in last week’s conference opening shutout of Yuma (34-0). Sprague, a sophomore, now has 757 yards on the season which surpasses his total from last year (732). Mosenteen has 399 yards on the ground this year and needs just 300 to reach 2,000 for his career.
Burlington’s tough loss to Wray (14-0) last week dropped them to 19th in RPI and squarely on the playoff bubble. It’s a situation they’re not familiar with as the Cougars have made the playoffs for 33 consecutive seasons. Their last absence came in 1986.
In the loss, the Cougars ran for 66 yards on 28 carries and managed just 65 yards through the air. They turned it over twice as well. Burlington topped Holyoke 13-10 in overtime last year and another tight game is possible. The Cougars also head to Limon next week so they could use a win in at least one to better their post-season hopes.
Others to Watch
Paonia (2-3) at Olathe (2-3)
A serious bubble game for two teams trying to land one of the last few playoff spots available. And as mentioned in previous weekly reports, there’s a good chance that one or possibly two league champs will finish outside the RPI Top 16 meaning teams need to be in the Top 14 to get in as a wildcard.
Paonia came up short to Hotchkiss (12-7) last week and with likely league champion Meeker on the docket next week, this might be a must win. They generated 186 yards rushing including 70 from Anthony Miller last week and will again look to run the football.
Olathe beat Cedaredge 32-13 last week in maybe their best effort of the season. Their other win came against Center 27-0. They too may be in a must win this week as Hotchkiss and Meeker are their next two opponents. And a win here keeps the Pirates smack dab in the league championship race.
Peyton (3-2) at John Mall (2-3)
Peyton is steadily moving up the RPI ladder and enters week sven ranked 16th. With key league games against Rocky Ford and Crowley County up in the next two weeks, they would like nothing better to get this one under control quickly. It won’t be easy as the defense must contend with Wesley Van Matre. He totaled a whopping 298 yards and five touchdowns in John Mall’s 44-10 drubbing of Trinidad last week. The Panthers have to get this one as they’re 32nd in RPI and will only get in as a conference champion.
Estes Park (2-3) at Pinnacle (2-3)
Pinnacle has scored just nine points all season but is at 22nd in the RPI so the Timberwolves are still alive in the playoff chase. Both wins are by forfeit. They earned one against Lake County without taking the field and picked up another against Denver West after the Cowboys used an ineligible player in a 42-0 decision. Estes Park is trying to get to four wins to match last year’s total and this one is a must to reach that goal. The Bobcats are 25th in RPI.