The Class 2A football playoff field was reduced to eight teams in the opening round and now those winners clash in the state quarterfinals. Basalt was the only lower seed to advance as they won at Classical Academy last week and their reward is a rematch with top seeded and unbeaten Rifle. Other matchups include Delta-Faith Christian, Sterling-Lamar and Resurrection Christian-Platte Valley.
#9 BASALT (8-2) VS #1 RIFLE (10-0)
It was less than a month ago that these two teams met on the gridiron with Rifle rallying for a 21-9 win. The Bears trailed 9-7 entering the fourth quarter but picked up a couple of late scores to stun the Longhorns. It helped the Bears win the Western Slope title while the Longhorns had to settle for third as they also fell to Delta. The winner could see Delta again in the semifinals if the Panthers get by Faith Christian in another quarterfinal.
The game marked the lowest point total of the season for Rifle who average 41 points per game. It was also their narrowest margin of victory. Rifle also beat Delta by 18 points (47-29) but won all other games by at least 27; including their first round playoff win over Englewood (48-15).
The Bears won the stat battle; running for 281 yards rushing compared to just 65 for the Longhorns. Basalt was helped by an interception and blocked punt but they could not get into the end zone.
Levi Warfel is another key for the Basalt defense. He ran for 172 yards in the first matchup and the senior is coming off a five-touchdown outburst in the first round against Englewood. He scored three times on the ground including a 77-yard dash and also caught two TD passes with one going 91 yards.
Basalt had a much more difficult time in round one as they moved past Classical Academy 13-7. Their defense was again stout as a fumble recovery in TCA territory set up the first score. Matty Gillis tossed a pair of TD passes with both going to Jackson Rappaport. Those two have connected 53 times this year for 716 yards and 10 TD’s.
- History: Rifle’s win last week was their third straight in the first round. The Bears last appearance in the semifinals came in 2014. They advanced to the 3A finals that year before falling to Pueblo East (30-14). Basalt is in the state quarterfinals for the third straight season. They lost their last two games in this round by a combined 78 points. Their only semifinal appearance came in 1979. This is the first playoff matchup between the two schools.
#4 DELTA (9-1) VS #5 FAITH CHRISTIAN (9-1)
Both clubs pitched shutouts in round one of the playoffs but Delta had a much easier win as they downed Pagosa Springs 44-0 while Faith Christian edged Elizabeth 8-0. Shutting out opponents is something both teams have done twice over the past four games. For Delta it was the sixth time they’ve blanked an opponent; for Faith Christian it was their fourth.
Cody Wilson and Nathan Workman each had 11 tackles for Delta and Colbi Braslin and Brandon Butler added 10 apiece. Faith Christian forced four turnovers including two interceptions from Joel Burck. He also added 5.5 tackles. Elizabeth managed just 64 yards of offense.
Faith Christian scored the only points of the game in the first quarter as Isaiah Kroll spun away from the crowd on a fourth and one to dash 38 yards to the end zone. Erick Granados did not score but he finished with 112 yards.
Delta got a season best 174 yards on the ground from Ku Moo in quickly dispatching Pagosa Springs. He had just 14 carries. Nolan Bynum was again sharp; completing 13 of 17 attempts for 174 yards and two scores. Hunter Hughes caught six passes for 107 yards and a TD. The other score went to Gauge Lockhart.
- History: Delta’s win over Pagosa Springs was their first since 2016 when they beat Resurrection Christian 23-8 in the quarterfinals. A win this week gets them to the semifinals for the third time since 2015. They also went that far in 2013. A win moves Faith Christian to the semifinals for a second straight. Before last year, they had advanced to the Final four since 2013. Their win last week was the 38th in school history. The clubs have met once previously in the playoffs with Delta getting a 14-7 win in 2016 first round.
#2 STERLING (9-1) VS #7 LAMAR (8-2)
Common opponents Eaton and Classical Academy could give us an indication on how this quarterfinal may end up. Lamar split the two matchups; losing to Classical Academy 48-27 in the regular season and then beating Eaton 21-7 in the first round last week. Sterling fought past both teams in non-league play early in the season; blanking Eaton 7-0 and outscoring Classical Academy 48-27.
Both teams played well in round one. Sterling blasted Moffat County 56-14 and led the game 36-0 after one quarter. That allowed coach Rob Busmente to rest many of his key players. Lamar ran for 300 yards and survived three interceptions in beating the Reds.
Jesus Reyes (117 yards) and Walker Kee (106) paced the Lamar running game. Kee also caught a team high four passes and Blake Buxton latched onto three. Despite the three interceptions, Zane Rankin threw for 152 yards and a score.
Defensively, Gabe Estrada topped the Savages with 13 tackles and Lamar forced two turnovers.
Sterling did not post offensive stats from their win over Moffat County, but their outburst marked the fourth time in five games they’ve scored at least 40 points. The defense faced just 37 plays and allowed 168 yards.
- History: Sterling last made the semifinals in 2004 when they advanced to the state championship game. They lost to Rifle in the finals that year (7-6). The Tigers are in the bracket for fifth time since 2014. Their all-time playoff record is 14-25. Lamar snapped a 10-game playoff losing streak with last week’s win. It was their first post-season game since 2014 and first win since 1995. That year is also their last appearance in the state semifinals. The only previous playoff meeting between the Tigers and Savages came in 1994. Sterling won 35-15.
#3 RESURRECTION CHRISTIAN (9-1) VS #6 PLATTE VALLEY (8-2)
Even though they are in different conferences, the Cougars and Broncos are very familiar with one another. Saturday’s game will be their seventh meeting since 2014 and third clash in the post-season. Platte Valley is 4-2 over the previous six games and have won both post-season pairings. That includes a 21-14 victory a year ago.
Both teams have a loss to Sterling on their resume. Resurrection Christian dropped a 13-7 overtime decision to the Tigers but have won nine straight since. Platte Valley lost to the Tigers 24-6 in conference play and had to settle for second in the Patriot East. The winner could get a second crack at Sterling if the Tigers also get by Lamar on Saturday.
Neither team was pushed in the opening round. Resurrection Christian blitzed La Junta 46-14 to eliminate the defending state champions. Platte Valley took out Bennett 38-6.
Buck Coors threw for four touchdowns and ran for another against La Junta. He finished with 122 yards through the air while completing 10 of 15 attempts. The Cougars added 226 yards rushing with Cade Dunlap (71) and Tanner Applebee (63) leading the charge. Applebee and AJ Goldfain picked up 10 tackles apiece but the standout on that side of the ball was Justin Hawthorne. He recorded two sacks, picked up a fumble and intercepted a pass.
Offensive details for Platte Valley have not been posted to MaxPreps but the Broncos scored two touchdowns in both the first and second quarter to take command by halftime.
- History: Platte Valley downed Resurrection Christian 21-14 in the playoffs last year. Coors did not play but the Cougars still managed 241 yards rushing. Josh Yancey is the main offensive threat for Platte Valley this year but was not the main option last season. He ran for 27 yards and caught two passes including one for a score. Platte Valley also topped the Cougars 30-20 in the 2016 playoffs. It’s their only two previous post-season battles. The teams have split their last four regular season games. Platte Valley has been in the playoffs every year since 2006 and has two state titles in that span (2007-13). They also reached the finals last year and in 2012 but settled for runner-up finishes. The Cougars have been a post-season club each year since 2013. A win gets them to the semifinals for a third straight year and fifth time in six years.