Great matchups dot the entire 2A football schedule in week seven. Rifle and Delta are ranked 1-2 in the state and they collide in the latest big game inside the rugged Western Slope. And the Kent Denver is in the rare position of battling for their post-season lives against Englewood.
Delta (5-0) at Rifle (5-0)
There are both league and statewide implications involved in this one. Statewide, the winner should land the number one spot in next week’s rankings. Rifle has held down the top spot each of the last two sets of rankings and Delta is again second this year.
The winner though does not land control of the Western Slope chase as the league also features Basalt. The Longhorns are 5-0 and they moved to #1 in the RPI with their dominating win over Moffat County last week. Despite the loss, the Bulldogs stay at #3 in the RPI this week. Rifle is 6th this week and Delta 7th so the league has four of the top seven spots.
The Bears and Panthers could be a bit higher in the RPI if not for schedule strength. Rifle has played and beaten three 3A clubs but their opponents winning percentage is just 29 percent which is worst among all 2A clubs. Delta’s opponents have won 39 percent of their contests which ranks 32nd of 41 teams in the division.
Both clubs have been extremely dominant though. Delta has outscored opponents 228-14 and gave up their first points of the season just last week in a 27-14 win over Aspen. Rifle’s narrowest margin of victory is 27 and the Bears have outscored teams 204-39.
Rifle opened conference play by blanking Coal Ridge 44-0; limiting the Titans to just 96 yards of offense. The defense also forced three turnovers. Delta ran for just 80 yards in the win over Aspen but QB Nolan Bynum threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns. The defense had five sacks including two from Brandon Butler who also recovered a fumble. They also picked off three passes including two from Colton Johnson.
Last year’s contest went to Rifle 34-7 as the Bears generated 312 yards on the ground. Levi Warfel totaled 76 in the win and returns as the Bears’ top option this season.
Lamar (3-2) at Woodland Park (3-2)
Both teams are coming off league opening losses last week so each needs a win to stay in the conference title chase. And both are currently on the RPI bubble so a win is also crucial for playoff chances. Lamar is 14th this week and Woodland Park 16th.
The Panthers played well in a hard fought 6-0 loss to defending state champion La Junta last week. They gave up a first quarter score then shutout the Tigers the rest of the way. Matias Lopez recorded 17 tackles and Andrew Harper added 13. The offense moved the football but committed costly turnovers. The Panthers ran for 115 yards and Colin Kucera threw for 193 yards, but he also tossed three interceptions.
The defense this week will focus on Lamar QB Zane Rankin. He was involved in four touchdowns again last week; marking the third time he’s done that this season. The Savages trailed TCA 21-0; battled back to tie the game early in the third and then fell short 48-27. It snapped a three-game losing streak. Defense was a concern as the Savages allowed 304 yards and five TD’s on the ground.
Another factor in this one is the Whistle Game is set for next week and Lamar must not look ahead to a showdown with La Junta.
Elizabeth (4-1) at La Junta (4-1)
The teams are both 1-0 in the Tri Peaks but they took completely different routes to get there. La Junta tossed a shutout in edging Woodland Park 6-0 while Elizabeth put up 61 points in a rout of Manitou Springs (61-7).
The win pushed Elizabeth to 13th in RPI and they’ve now outscored opponents 179-73 this season. But they’ve faced just one team that’s been in the rankings this year and that resulted in a 27-6 loss to Platte Valley. La Junta is 9th in RPI; a number boosted by a strong schedule which is fourth best in Class 2A. Opponents have won 56 percent of their games.
The Tigers offense has struggled to put points on the board this year. The season high is 21 in a win over Kent Denver and they’ve been held to single digits twice. Elizabeth meantime put up 21 points in the first quarter and 26 in the second last week. Vincent Weber ran and threw for a score and Jobe Taylor recovered a bad punt snap in the end zone for a TD.
Englewood (4-1) at Kent Denver (2-3)
It’s rare to say this but this could be a must win situation for Kent Denver concerning their playoff hopes. Because of their 2-3 start, the Sun Devils are only 33rd in RPI and probably need to win a league championship to earn a spot in the bracket. They last missed the playoffs in 2006 and have been in the post-season every year since 1983 except two (2006, 1988).
Englewood was also 4-1 at this point a year ago but then lost to Kent Denver. That decision likely kept the Pirates out of the playoff despite a 7-2 record. The Pirates though are in better shape this year as they sit 10th in RPI. Their opponents have scored more wins this year than last which has boosted their RPI number. Still the league may just get one bid for a second straight so the winner of this one gets closer to that berth.
The Sun Devils have produced just 49 points in five games including a total of seven in losses to Faith Christian, La Junta and Pueblo Centennial. They edged Ridgeview Academy 16-14 in the league opener last week; rushing for 133 yards on 38 attempts. Peter McDermott and Spencer Garner each scored and the defense forced three turnovers.
Englewood blew past Riverdale Ridge 49-28 last week. Mason Robertson threw for 136 yards and three touchdowns including two to Nate Gravagno. Yakez Daughtry added 193 yards and a TD on the ground.
Eaton (3-2) at Academy (4-1)
This is a battle of first week winners in the Patriot West as the Reds held off pesky University 25-23 and Academy rolled past Prospect Ridge 55-18. The winner becomes the top challenger to three-time defending league champion Resurrection Christian for this year’s crown.
Eaton grabbed last week’s win despite three turnovers. They totaled 295 yards of offense and much of it came from junior QB Scott Grable. He threw for 175 yards and ran for 62 and scored in both manners. Juan Maravilla, Dakota Powell and Morgan Tribbett all finished with 10 tackles to pace the defense.
Academy generated 506 yards against Prospect Ridge. Brandon Boston threw for 285 yards and four TD’s. Charlie States ran for 111 and Boston added another 58. The defense though gave up 280 yards rushing so look for the Reds to try to pound the football a bit more.
RPI wise, Eaton is 8th and Academy 15th. The Reds are in great position for a playoff berth even if they don’t land the league title. Academy is in contention for their first playoff spot since 2015.
Others to Watch
Resurrection Christian (4-1) at University (2-3)
This might be closer than records indicate and the Cougars must avoid looking ahead to Eaton on the schedule next week. University nearly upset the Reds last week and are much improved over the past couple of seasons.
Rez is 4th in RPI and faced a schedule of teams with a winning percentage of nearly 56 percent. University is 24th in RPI and needs a quality win to keep their fading playoff hopes alive.
The Cougars have allowed just three points in their last three games and Tanner Applebee has turned into one of the best defenders in Colorado. He leads the Cougars with 37 tackles and has already amassed 14 sacks. Rez has forced 15 turnovers overall with Eddie Lemons responsible for four with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Their focus will be University QB Chayden Cox. He’s been involved in 13 touchdowns this season and has thrown for 871 yards.
Brush (2-3) at Sterling (4-1)
Sterling is heavily favored but we list the game as the Tigers must focus on this one instead of next week’s huge clash with Platte Valley. Coach Rob Busmente’s team is 2nd in RPI and a stumble this week could cost them a chance at the top overall playoff seed. Brush ended a three game slide by blasting Fort Lupton 57-0 last week and feature talented RB Nick Wellen. He’s averaging 113 yards per game with four touchdowns on the season. The Tigers blanked Valley last week and allowed just 83 yards rushing on 26 attempts.
Faith Christian (4-1) at Arvada (3-2)
The Eagles have won four straight and are 12th in RPI this week. They topped Denver West 41-12 in their conference opener and again appear headed to a regular season closing battle with D’Evelyn for the league crown. Erick Granados ran for 161 yards and four touchdowns and Eduardo Castaneda added 120 yards and a fifth score. The Eagles defense picked off four passes and recovered three fumbles.
Arvada was number one in RPI after week four but two straight losses has them down to 19th. They lost to Englewood 28-14 in their non-conference closer and then fell to Bennett 42-6 last week. D’Evelyn is up next week so it’s a make or break stretch for the Bulldogs.
Aspen (2-3) at Moffat County (4-1)
As football fans know, there are some quirks in the RPI and Moffat County could fall into that category this week. The Bulldogs suffered a 42 point loss to Basalt last week but still sit 3rd in RPI. They’re seeking their first post-season bid since 2015.
Moffat County generated just 90 yards rushing in the loss and may need better production there this week to keep Aspen’s offense off the field.
Aspen is only 26th in RPI so they may need to win out to reach a third consecutive playoff berth. They’re coming off a 47-14 loss to Delta and still have Rifle and Basalt on the schedule after this week.