2A FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK 1

Two top ten matchups are found on the 2A football schedule this week and in each case the higher seeded team has the advantage of already playing a game.  #7 Sterling beat #6 Resurrection Christian in zero week and both teams return to the gridiron this week to host another ranked opponent.  The Tigers meet #8 D’Evelyn and the Cougars battle #9 Faith Christian.
After losing to Resurrection Christian 34-6 to open the 2016 campaign, Sterling basically reversed the score in zero week this year posting an impressive 33-8 decision.  Senior QB Bodie Hume threw for over 200 yards and two TD’s with Isaac Harris, Colton Shalla and Christian Rose all catching three passes.  The Tigers defense also forced five turnovers including four interceptions.
Now Sterling looks to avenge another loss against D’Evelyn who won 28-24 at home a year ago.  In that game, the teams combined for 491 yards passing including 155 yards and two scores for Hume.  D’Evelyn’s QB Cody Dines did not attempt a pass against Sterling last year but did start the final six games of the year for the Jaguars including two playoff games.  He finished with 1,000 yards passing and 11 TD’s on the season.
Three other returnees back for D’Evelyn will be important in Friday’s battle.  Luca McIntrye led the Jags with 75 yards rushing in last year’s victory while Cody Bell returns after catching 25 passes in 2016.  Along the interior, Peter Flack is a returning all-state lineman and could make it difficult for the Tigers to establish a running game.  They did manage 127 yards against Flack and the Jags defense a year ago but all but 11 of those yards are gone to graduation.
Resurrection Christian and Faith Christian went extra minutes a year ago with the Cougars scoring a 27-24 decision in overtime.  The game was tied at 21 after regulation and after Faith Christian booted through a FG, the Cougars grabbed the win with a TD.  But from that win, Resurrection Christian returns only nine yards passing and 13 yards rushing.  Faith Christian meantime welcomes back QB Isaiah Kroll, who threw for 108 yards in his first ever high school contest.  But the Eagles did lose a pair of running backs who both ran for at least 120 yards in last year’s game to graduation.
Even though the game is set for week one, it could become very important to both clubs later in the season concerning potential playoff position.  Only league champions are awarded guaranteed playoff berths in Class 2A and all others are determined by RPI.  Neither team is a lock to win a league championship as the Cougars are likely to battle with Eaton for the Patriot West crown and Faith Christian with D’Evelyn again inside the Flatirons.
Three other ranked clubs stepped onto the field in zero week and all were involved in shutouts.  #1 Kent Denver hammered Prospect Ridge 59-0, #2 Bayfield took out San Juan UT 39-0 but #4 Delta came up short against 3A Durango 3-0.  The Panthers are off this week but Kent Denver returns to face Eagle Valley and Bayfield faces a second straight out of state opponent in Bloomfield NM.
Kent Denver ran for 311 yards including 188 from Charles McKissick, 94 from Joshua McDonald and 88 from Steven Lindsey in their easy win.  Overall the team averaged a first down on every rushing attempt (10.7) and Joey Licht also completed nine passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.  Prospect Ridge is in their second year of varsity football and playing their first season with seniors.
The test should be a more difficult this week but the Sun Devils could be more focused than normal as they barely escaped Eagle Valley a year ago.  Will Morland sparked the fourth quarter rally by returning both an interception and fumble for scores in the 18-8 decision.  The Devils may not have recovered from that loss as they stumbled through a 3-7 season while competing in the rugged 3A Western Slope conference.
Bayfield avenged last year’s loss to San Juan UT behind a stout defense that surrendered only six yards of total offense in the first half.  The offense also offered big play ability and finished the day with nearly 300 yards rushing.  David Hawkins led that charge with 101 yards and Carl Heide added 61.
As we expected, the Delta offense is a work in progress in the early season.  After being shutout at Durango, the Panthers now have two weeks to work on execution ahead of a September 8th meeting with Moffat County.  Defensively, Delta was tremendous recording five sacks including three from Jacob Wear.  He along with Josh Reeder and Aiden Barrios collected eight tackles and Drake Horn recovered a fumble.
Defending state champion La Junta puts the state’s longest winning streak (13) on the line in their season opener with Gunnison on Friday.  The Tigers actually began the string by drilling the Cowboys 47-6 on the road a year ago.  In the win, the Tigers attempted only four passes but generated 386 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.  Defensively, the Tigers limited Gunnison to just 31 plays.
But a good share of the offensive and defensive stats were generated by 12 seniors who are no longer with the program.  That means QB Jon Nuschy may be asked to do even more early this year as new faces step into key roles for the defending state champs.  He ran for 84 yards on 15 carries vs Gunnison last year in his first-ever varsity start.
Gunnison (4-5) missed the playoffs a year ago and lost a key contributor in signal caller Josh Wallin who led the team in rushing and passing yards.  The top returnee could be Chase Percival.  He picked up 324 yards on the ground as a sophomore.
4th ranked Classical Academy begins the Justin Rich area on the road to Sierra.  Rich takes over for David Bervig who led the team for many years and finished the run with a 9-2 mark and playoff appearance a year ago.  TCA topped Sierra 48-0 behind 87 yards passing and 82 rushing from QB Cade Bethany who’s back to lead the offense again this season.
#10 Platte Valley opens the 2017 season against Lutheran on Friday.  The two teams played a thrilling game last season with Lutheran nipping the Broncos 20-19.  It was the first of six narrow losses for Coach Troy Hoffman’s team.  All were by ten points or less including by three points or fewer.
Some of those narrow losses could be chalked up to inexperience as the Broncos featured only a couple of seniors in their top rotation.  With a year of experience now in their hip pocket, Hoffman expects some of those narrow losses to turn into wins.
Returning leaders of the team appear to be Trevon Wehrman, Kaleb Johnson and Brendan Bunting.  All three players played key roles against Lutheran last season.  Wehrman combined for 197 yards of offense, Johnson recorded a dozen tackles and Bunting intercepted three passes.  Despite those efforts, the Broncos fell two points shy of the win.
Even though Justin Kenny threw for 134 yards in last year’s win, he spent much of the season as a backup at QB to the now graduated Will Willis.  Now the starter, Kenny looks to help the Lions return to the 3A playoffs.  They’ve missed out the last couple of seasons.
Outside the rankings, we’ll be watching games between Eaton-Lamar and Alamosa-Buena Vista.  Of those four, Alamosa is the only squad that has seen action this year.  Running for 299 yards including 135 from Reis Martinez, the Moose were impressive in rolling past Florence 43-0.  Ben Wuckert added 75 yards on the ground and kicker Katy Gallegos was five for six on extra points.  She misfired on her first attempt but then knocked through the next five.
Alamosa’s defense may have been even more impressive than the offensive unit.  In addition to posting the shutout, they limited Florence to minus two yards of offense for the game.  17 different players made a tackle; a list led by Jaedon Gurule with seven.  They also forced three turnovers.
Buena Vista stunned Alamosa 22-21 last year.  Defense paved the way there as the Demons forced four turnovers including three interceptions.  One of the key returnees for Buena Vista is Michael Morgan.  He ran for 41 yards, caught three passes and registered an interception in the win.
Friday’s game has been delayed to an 8:45pm start due to the shortage of officials in the San Luis Valley.  Our thanks to Eric Flores for providing that piece of information earlier this week.
Eaton rolled Lamar 35-0 a year ago and with most of the skill positions returning, the Reds are favored to win again.  Underclassmen gained 153 yards rushing and threw for all 134 yards in the balanced attack.  Despite that win, Eaton did not make the playoffs as they were hurt in the RPI somewhat by an unusual down year for the Savages (2-7).
Lamar looks to rebound this year with the likes of Andres Guevera, who threw for 336 yards and ran for 139 as a junior, Colton Eberhart (150 yards rushing), Valentin Flores (49 tackles) and Trevon Wertz (46 tackles).
By far the most entertaining game in zero week belonged to Aspen and Middle Park.  The two combined for 130 points and almost 13-hundred yards of offense.  When the scoreboard finally stopped changing the Skiers scored a wild 80-50 decision.  Not included in the total offensive numbers were a whopping 656 yards in combined kickoff returns.
The Skiers ran for 377 yards and passed for 296 with much of the damage provided by QB RJ Peshak.  He threw for 286 yards and picked up another 268 on the ground while totaling eight touchdowns.  Noah Hollander caught 10 passes for 171 yards and a score.
Middle Park’s Blake Weimer totaled 522 all-purpose yards including 205 rushing and 252 in kick returns.  Boston Gleich finished with 231 yards passing and another 115 on the ground.
Aspen looks for a 2-0 start when they visit Arvada on Saturday.  A victory matches their win total of 2016.  Middle Park entertains Estes Park on Friday and will be favored to get the win.
Colorado Preps is asking assistance with football photos and videos this year.  We’re putting an emphasis on more photos on the website and will be debuting a new plays of the week video feature next week.  If you have a few photos or top video play from your team at any point this season, send us the information by email to kevin@coloradopreps.com.  We’ll do our best to include in our coverage.
 

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