La Junta and Resurrection Christian are the only two teams that can rest a bit easy in the final week of the 2A football season. The Tigers have wrapped up the Tri Peaks crown and the Resurrection Christian has claimed the Patriot West title but the remaining five championships are still up for grabs entering the final week of the season. Four of the champions will be crowned with head-to-head matchups and the fifth will be determined by results from two different contests.
Our report begins in the Flatirons and Intermountain conferences were both feature unbeaten league teams squaring off this Friday. D’Evelyn and Faith Christian are both 4-0 inside the Flatirons while the Intermountain title will go to either Salida or Bayfield who are both 3-0 in league play.
While both determine league championships, the matchup between D’Evelyn and Faith Christian could be more important to the playoff picture. The losing team is not a lock to get into the playoffs as the Eagles are 12th in RPI and the Jaguars 13th. That’s not the case in the Intermountain where Bayfield is 2nd and Salida is 4th in RPI and both are safely in the bracket win or lose this weekend.
Bayfield heads to Salida coming off a wild win over Pagosa Springs that kept the defending state champs tied with the Spartans atop the standings. Tied 6-6 at the end of the regulation, Pagosa Springs scored touchdown with a PAT for a 13-6 advantage. Bayfield scored a TD on their possession and then decided to go for the winning two-point conversion. Keyon Prior was very close to be stuffed on the run but he then pitched back to QB Hayden Farmer who dashed into the end zone for the game-deciding conversion.
The touchdown run finished off a good night on the ground for the Wolverines as they finished with 278 yards on 48 carries. Prior (113 yards) and David Hawkins (109) both went over 100 yards on the night as the Wolverines controlled time of possession. They had 66 plays in the game compared to just 46 for the Pirates.
Salida has not been pushed in conference play rolling past Pagosa Springs, Alamosa and Montezuma Cortez by a combined 85 points. Their defense has been solid the entire year. They surrendered 22 points against a very good Delta club but otherwise has not allowed more than seven points to any opponent.
Holt Brashears is one of the many leaders for the big play defense. The Spartans have 80 tackles for loss and 23 sacks on the season and Brashears is the leader in both. He has 13 tackles for loss and six sacks. The Spartans have also forced 20 turnovers this season and may need a few more to unseat the Wolverines who have not lost a conference game since 2014.
Vince Deleo (79), Hunter Clark (67) and Ludvig Myren (62) are the top three tacklers.
Pagosa Springs and Montezuma Cortez are two other league teams battling for playoff berths. The Pirates are 14th and Panthers 16th in RPI this week. Pagosa Springs meets Alamosa and Montezuma Cortez has a non-league game against Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico.
D’Evelyn (7-1) stayed perfect in the Flatirons with a 16-8 slugfest win over Bennett last week. The Jags were balanced on offense with 180 yards and two touchdowns passing from Evan Willis and 155 yards on the ground including 72 from Enzo Franzese.
The balance has been there throughout the season as the Jags have totaled 1,631 yards through the air and 1,523 on the ground. Coach Jeremy Bennett’s team has rushed for at least 100 yards in every game including 360 yards vs Denver West and 236 against Arvada. Their top passing effort is against Academy with 336 yards in an early season win over Academy.
Known for their offense most years, the Jags have put together maybe their best defensive groups in recent memory. They’ve forced 24 turnovers with 20 sacks and 42.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Conor Sampson and Noah Miles have three interceptions apiece and three others have two. Jake Braun has 6.5 sacks and Miles 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Faith Christian opened 0-2 with losses to Resurrection Christian and Kent Denver but has since reeled off six straight wins with most coming in easy fashion. Other than the 27-16 win over University, the Eagles have recorded wins by 35, 55, 55, 36 and 54 points. In league play, they’ve outscored four opponents 208-8.
David Nagy, with 826 yards and 18 touchdowns, paces the Eagles running game and Isaiah Kroll has 749 yards passing with seven touchdowns. Jordan Abbot is the top receiver with 25 catches for 376 yards and four scores.
On defense, the leaders are Michael Osgood (54 tackles) and Jacob Thielen (48). Joel Burch has three interceptions and Edoardo Castaneda has two.
This is the third straight year the two teams have battled for the Flatirons championship and Faith Christian is 2-0 in the previous meetings. Both have been low scoring. Faith won 14-7 last year and picked up 215 yards on the ground. The Eagles scored a 19-6 win in 2016 with Kroll throwing for 113 yards as a freshman.
Kent Denver (Colorado) and Platte Valley (Patriot East) sit alone atop their conferences but still need wins this week to grab outright championships. Both are favored against long-time rivals as the Sun Devils meet Machebeuf and the Broncos tangle with Brush. The opponents though will be playing with a bit of playoff desperation as neither will make the playoffs without landing a title. Machebeuf is 26th in RPI and Brush 30th. Meantime, Platte Valley is 6th and Kent Denver 10th and both will be in the bracket.
The magic number for Kent Denver in league play is 48. They’ve scored the exact amount of points in each of their last three wins over Englewood, Riverdale Ridge and Alameda. QB Joey Licht has thrown for 360 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for 105 yards and four scores in those wins. Will Morland has added 317 yards rushing with five touchdowns and Seth Lindsey 271 and four.
Machebeuf meantime managed just a field goal in a frustrating 6-3 loss to Englewood last week. The Buffs had six sacks and two interceptions but totaled just 193 yards of offense. The Buffs win the championship with a victory if Englewood is upset by Ridgeview Academy. Wins by Machebeuf and Englewood create a three-way tie. Wins by Kent and Englewood leave those teams 1-2 with Machebeuf sliding to third.
Platte Valley is well rested as they earned a bye over Valley last week. Brush topped the Vikings 50-30 two weeks ago and made it two straight wins by downing Weld Central 35-21 last week. It’s the first time they’ve won back-to-back games all season. Nick Wellen has rushed for 285 yards and four touchdowns in the wins and has 1,097 yards with 14 scores overall.
If Platte Valley wins, they are the champions and then Sterling takes second with a win over Weld Central. Wins by Brush and Sterling leave all three teams tied for the top spot. Sterling is 18th in RPI points and is trying to get into the playoff bracket in the final week.
Games between Aspen-Basalt and Rifle-Moffat County will determine the order of the top three inside the Western Slope. Aspen, Basalt and Rifle share the league lead at 3-1 but only the Skiers control their own championship hopes. The Skiers are the league champions by beating Basalt. The Longhorns though have the most difficult route to the title. They are the league champions with a win only if Rifle also falls at Moffat County. Wins by Basalt and Rifle give the championship to the Bears with Basalt in second and Aspen third. Delta is locked into the fourth spot.
All four teams should be headed to the playoffs. Basalt (5th), Rifle (7th) and Delta (9th) are in the top 10 and considered safely into the bracket. Aspen is 11th and should get in as well.
As mentioned, Resurrection Christian is the Patriot West champion and will close the regular season against Prospect Ridge. The Cougars are the number one team in RPI this week. Eaton can also clinch second behind Rez by beating Berthoud. The Reds are 8th in RPI and safely in the post-season. Berthoud was knocked off by University last week and fell to 17th so they may need a win to get in. University is 20th and must beat Academy and get some help to earn a playoff berth.
La Junta is 3rd in RPI points and is the only Tri Peaks team that has locked up a post-season bid. Elizabeth must beat Lamar this week to grab second place and it’s an important game for the Cardinals as they’re 15th in RPI. A loss may knock them out. Lamar is 27th and won’t make the playoffs but a win gets them a share of second place. Classical Academy is 22nd in RPI and is likely out as well following their loss to La Junta last week.
Final RPI standings will be posted on Sunday and the playoff brackets will be released later the same day. League champions earn automatic bids but must finish in the RPI top 10 to be assured of a home game in round one. The remaining playoff berths will be determined by RPI. Once qualifiers are determined, a committee will then seed and place the teams in the pairings.