A couple of regular season rematches will determine which clubs will play for the 2A state football championship. Delta and Sterling look for season sweeps over Basalt and Resurrection Christian respectively to earn a trip to the finals while the Longhorns and Cougars hope to reverse earlier results to advance.
Both games are set for Saturday at 1:00pm and the previews on each are listed below. Home teams are listed first. Colorado Preps will recap the results and hopefully visit with the winning coaches during a special playoff edition of the Scoreboard Show from 3:30-5:00pm this Saturday.
#9 Basalt (9-2) vs #4 Delta (10-1)
They are high school athletes and tend to recover quickly but one might wonder how much both teams have left in the tank following emotional and hard fought quarterfinal wins. Basalt upset top seeded Rifle 21-14 in double overtime last week and scored the winning touchdown on fourth and goal from the 33 yard line. Delta went back and forth in a high scoring 36-34 win over Faith Christian where Ku Moo booted a 40-yard game winning field goal in the closing minutes.
Now the clubs must regroup to face off with a berth in the state championship game on the line. Delta won the conference matchup 35-6 as they built a comfortable 28-0 lead at intermission. Nolan Bynum had a nice effort with 207 yards and two scores and also scored on the ground. Nathan Butler added two more touchdowns on the ground for the Panthers.
Basalt ran for just 91 yards on 37 attempts in game one. Cole Dombrowski led the way with 63 but the rest of the Longhorns managed just 28. Matty Gillis was sacked six times on the day but hit 12 of 22 passes for 125 yards and a TD. Jackson Rappaport caught the TD and ended with five receptions for 77 yards.
Gauge Lockhart led the Delta defense with two sacks and he also recovered a fumble. Colby Wilson (14), James Goff (13), Workman (11) and Hunter Goff (10) all reached double figures in tackles.
In the rematch, the Delta defense will be focused on slowing down Rappaport. The senior has a whopping 56 catches for 754 yards and 11 touchdowns so expect him to draw double coverage. He’s also a threat in other manners as he threw the winning TD against Rifle last week; hitting Rulbe Alvardo on a double reverse pass.
In addition to playing a major role in the first Basalt win, Bynum enters the semifinals riding a hot hand. He tossed four touchdown passes against Faith Christian; two apiece to Workman and Hunter Hughes. He finished with 358 yards and added a fifth score on the ground. Moo paced the ground game with 78 yards and Workman recorded 16 tackles.
The league rivals have split the last four matchups with each decided by at least 13 points. Before the loss in regular season play this year, the Longhorns had won the last two 13-0 and 35-7. Delta also picked up a 42-7 win in 2016.
- History: This is the first playoff meeting between the two programs. Delta is in the semifinals for the fourth time since 2013 which includes two appearances in Class 3A. They’ve lost the previous three contest including two by seven points. Their last semifinal win came in 1961 when they beat Fairview 16-14. The Panthers won their lone state crown in 1960 with a 12-7 decision over Canon City. They’re 1-7 all-time in this round. Basalt is in the semifinals for the second time in school history. The only previous appearance came in 1979 and ended with a 35-0 loss to Limon in Class 1A. The Longhorns have just five playoff wins overall with four coming in the last three years.
#2 Sterling (10-1) vs #3 Resurrection Christian (10-1)
Forcing turnovers is a major strength of both teams as they combine to record 60 on the season. The Cougars have amassed 36 turnovers on the season including seven interceptions from Eddie Lemos and six fumble recoveries from Tanner Applebee. Stelring has picked up 24 turnovers with Drew Book (3 fumble recoveries) and Jared Keil (4 interceptions) topping the list.
Mistakes played a critical role in the first matchup. The Cougars gave it up six times with the last fumble coming in overtime. The Tigers recovered to end the Cougars drive and then scored on their own possession in a 13-7 victory. Mistakes also cost the Cougars more chances at points earlier in the game as they ended drives deep in Sterling territory.
Resurrection Christian QB Buck Coors threw for 71 yards but had four interceptions. Lemos scored the only TD and finished with 39 yards on the ground. Sterling totaled 305 yards on offense as Conner Polenz and Brock Shalla each collected 60 yards on the ground. Shalla also threw for 167.
Both QB’s will again play major roles in Saturday’s outcome. Shalla has thrown for 1,474 yards and 15 TD’s with another 385 yards and five scores coming on the ground. Coors has 1,267 yards passing and 730 on the ground. The senior has been involved in 33 touchdowns.
Sterling has not been pushed in the playoffs; rolling past Moffat County 56-14 and Lamar 40-0. The defense was again stellar last week as they blanked an opponent averaging nearly 40 points per game. They limited the Savages to just 114 yards. The win kept Sterling unbeaten in Colorado (10-0) as their only loss is against Scottsbluff NE.
Turnovers were again an issue for Resurrection Christian last week as they survived six in a 20-12 win over Platte Valley. They tossed two interceptions and lost four fumbles and it seems their own mistakes are the only thing that slows down the Cougar offense. Coors ran for 89 and threw for 65 in the win. It was their 10th straight win.
- History: The two schools have not met previously in the playoffs. Sterling is in the Final Four for the first time since 2004. They edged Palisade 33-28 that year but then fell to Rifle (7-6) in the state finals the next week. This is their fourth appearance in the semifinals and 2004 marks their only victory. They are 16-25 all-time in the playoffs. Resurrection Christian is a semifinal club for the third straight year and fifth time in six years. They’re 0-4 in their previous appearances including a 21-14 loss to Platte Valley last season. They also came up short to Bayfield 21-0 in 2017. The other two visits occurred in Class 1A. They’re are 13-7 all-time in playoff games.
NOTE: For the second straight year, the 2A state championship will be played at a neutral site as CSU-Pueblo will host the game on November 30th. Kickoff will be at 1:00pm.