For the third straight year the Bayfield Wolverines and La Junta Tigers collide in the playoffs and the winner again will be crowned Class 2A state champion.Â The previous two meetings were in the state semifinals and each winner went on to claim the top trophy in the following week.Â Bayfield crushed La Junta 47-7 during the 2015 playoffs as the Wolverines won the second state championship in school history.Â Last year, La Junta rallied from a 13-0 deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Bayfield 14-13 on their way to the school’s sixth overall crown and first since 1958.
Through a combined six playoff games this year, the state finalists have been pushed only once.Â La Junta moved past Classical Academy 21-14 in the state quarterfinals.Â The Tigers also slammed Pagosa Springs 34-0 in the first and Eaton 42-0 in the state semifinals last week.Â Bayfield has been dominant throughout the post-season outscoring Elizabeth, Basalt and Resurrection Christian a combined 113-0 and winning each game by at least 21 points.
Both clubs rely heavily on big plays from their quarterback and each gets the job done in a different manner.Â Bayfield’s Hayden Farmer has tossed 30 touchdown passes this season and thrown for 1,865 yards.Â La Junta’s Jon Nuschy has thrown for 619 yards but does more damage on the ground, totaling 1,430 yards and 22 touchdowns in the running game.Â He leads the Tigers in both categories.
Nuschy also has more playoff experience as he directed the Tigers to the state crown as a sophomore last season.Â In the four playoff wins, Nuschy ran for 434 yards and three touchdowns and added 410 yards passing but held to just one yard through the air in the state championship win over Kent Denver.
Farmer though has played at a high level during his first playoff run this year.Â He threw for 116 yards in last week’s win over Resurrection Christian and in the first two games was nearly perfect; hitting 17 of 21 passes for 386 yards and seven touchdowns.Â He tossed five scoring passes in the second-round win over Basalt.
Each team has been stingy on defense the entire season and Bayfield has taken that term to a new level.Â The Wolverines have eight shutouts overall including five straight and have not allowed a point since a 21-3 win over Pagosa Springs on October 13th.Â The Wolverines defense is a big play unit forcing 34 turnovers with 51 sacks and a whopping 133 tackles for loss.
Leaders include Hunter Killough with 126 tackles, Cole Wood with 11 sacks and 23 tackles for loss and Ryan Phelps with a team best 17 sacks and 26 tackles for loss.Â Killough also has six interceptions; Dax Snooks and Carl Heide have five apiece while Keyon Prior and Dawson Heide each have three.
La Junta has four shutouts this season and surrenders only eight points per ballgame.Â They’ve forced 20 turnovers with 15 sacks and 51 tackles for loss.Â Zach Archuleta has three interceptions with Nuschy and Riley Remick each collecting two picks.Â Nuschy and Wyatt Buhr are the leading tacklers (60) followed by Vicente Ramirez and Hayden Honey (55).Â Geremiah Ramirez has a team high four sacks and Burh has the most tackles for loss with nine.
The two rivals had not met in the playoffs before the last two seasons.Â Bayfield is 9-1 in the post-season since the start of the 2015 season.Â La Junta is 6-1 over the same span and each team’s only loss is against the other club.
Saturday’s championship game will be available through a live video stream at www.nfhsnetwork.com.Â Kickoff is set for 1:00pm.
LA JUNTA TIGERS (11-1)
|Jon Nuschy||1,430 yards||22 TD’s|
|Wyatt Buhr||898 yards||10 TD’s|
|Zach Archuleta||480 yards||7 TD’s|
|Jon Nuschy||619 yards||8 TD — 2 INT|
|Matthew Espinoza||23 catches — 313 yards||3 TD’s|
|Zach Archuleta||7 catches -79 yards||2 TD’s|
|Kody Direzza||6 catches — 67 yards||1 TD|
|Kain Direzza||5 catches -62 yards||1 TD|
|Jon Nuschy||60 tackles||3 TFL / 2 INT’s|
|Wyatt Buhr||60 tackles||2 sacks / 1 INT|
|Vicente Ramirez||55 tackles||7 TFL / 2 Sacks|
|Hayden Honey||55 tackles||3 sacks|
|Zach Archuleta||36 tackles||3 INT’s|
|Geremiah Ramirez||35 tackles||4 sacks / 4 Fum Rec|
|Riley Remick||25 tackles||2 INT’s|
BAYFIELD WOLVERINES (12-0)
|Carl Heide||845 yards||9 TD’s|
|Hunter Killough||593 yards||8 TD’s|
|David Hawkins||493 yards||5 TD’s|
|Dylan Hilliker||344 yards||5 TD’s|
|Keyon Prior||244 yards||2 TD’s|
|Hayden Farmer||1,865 yards||30 TD’s — 9 INT|
|Dax Snooks||32 catches — 588 yards||13 TD’s|
|Carl Heide||19 catches — 344 yards||1 TD|
|Keyon Prior||15 catches — 245 yards||4 TD’s|
|Dawson Heide||12 catches — 349 yards||3 TD’s|
|Hunter Killough||10 catches — 231 yards||5 TD’s|
|Hunter Killough||126 tackles||13 TFL / 6 INT’s|
|Cole Wood||108 tackles||23 TFL / 11 sacks|
|Kirk Malone||95 tackles||20 TFL / 4 sacks|
|Ryan Phelps||79 tackles||26 TFL / 17 sacks|
|Wyatt Killinen||55 tackles||12 TFL / 9 sacks|
|Mike Kirk||55 tackles||13 TFL|
|Dax Snooks||39 tackles||5 INT’s|
|Carl Heide||29 tackles||5 INT’s|
|Keyon Prior||3 INT’s|
|Dawson Heide||3 INT’s|