For the third time in the past 12 months, Faith Christian and Resurrection Christian collide on the gridiron.  Their latest meeting takes place on Friday and both teams are in the top 10 this week with the Eagles checking in at #5 and the Cougars one step back in sixth.
The clubs split two matchups in 2017.  Faith Christian won the season opening battle 9-0 but Resurrection Christian took the more important playoff matchup; rallying from down 17-0 in the first quarter to post a 28-25 decision in the state quarterfinals.
Resurrection Christian may have the slight advantage when the contest opens as they have a game under their belt after beating Sterling 24-3 last Friday.  The win was the first for new coach Jeff Van Winkle.  The defense held the Tigers spread offense in check with five sacks including three from Peter Kuppinger.
On offense, the Cougars were multi-faceted.  QB Buck Coors threw for 74 yards and two touchdown passes to Zane Zuhlke.  He also rushed for 51 yards to finish second on the team behind Kyle Lueck (71).
Those three played major roles in leading Rez to the wild playoff comeback last year.  Coors tossed a pair of touchdown passes including one to Zuhlke who also scored on the ground.  Defensively, the Cougars limited Faith Christian QB Isaiah Kroll to 64 yards through the air and 38 on the ground.
Kroll is back for his third season as the starting quarterback.  The junior directed the Eagles to nine wins last year and a first-round playoff win.  He ended the season with 1,018 yards passing.
In addition to serving as the season opener, Friday’s contest is also the first for Faith Christian under new coach Vince Siravo.  He succeeds Ralph Nance who directed the team for four years after serving many years as the defensive coordinator.
Next to Faith Christian-Resurrection Christian, the best two matchups in Class 2A this week could be #3 Platte Valley vs Lutheran (3A) and #9 Classical Academy at home against D’Evelyn.  Both games are set for Friday and all four teams have enough talent to earn victories.
Platte Valley is the only team of the four to see action this year as they overcame a slow start to down Berthoud 16-0 last week.  The game was scoreless at halftime.  The Broncos defense limited the Spartans to just 99 yards rushing and 28 passing.
In last season’s matchup with Lutheran, Coach Troy Hoffman’s club jumped to a 21-0 first quarter lead and ended with a 49-7 decision.  Trevon Wehrman combined for 301 yards of offense and was involved in three touchdowns.  Ernesto Rios, who also had a big game last week against Berthoud, picked up 86 yards rushing and score twice.
Lutheran missed the playoffs last year; finishing at 4-6.  Erik Cumley is back at quarterback and hopes to lead the Lions back into the post-season where they’ve been a regular visitor in recent year.  He threw for 121 yards last year and also gained 39 on the ground.
Classical Academy and D’Evelyn are both returning playoff teams and met last year with the Titans picking up a hard-fought 24-21 win.  But very few folks that had an impact in that contest return this year as both teams must work in new faces across the entire lineup.  Classical Academy churned out 270 of offense in last year’s win but only 27 of that returns to the roster.  Alec Day ran for 26 yards last year and also led the team with eight tackles.
D’Evelyn threw for 332 yards passing and ran for 48 last year but Luca McIntyre, with 30 yards, is the top producer back from that group.  Thomas Lowry also returns after catching three passes and scoring a TD as a sophomore.
Both #1 Bayfield and #2 La Junta were dominant in week one wins against out-of-state opponents.  The defending state champion Wolverines intercepted five passes and returned two for scores in their 54-13 win over Farmington NM.  La Junta led Raton NM 41-0 in the first quarter on their way to an easy 47-0 decision.
Each is favored again this week.  Bayfield heads to Utah to face San Juan in Blanding.  La Junta returns home to debut their new scoreboard by hosting Pagosa Springs.
In addition to the defensive effort, Bayfield ran for 228 yards and QB Hayden Farmer tossed two TD’s to James Mottin in last week’s win.  Dylan Hilliker led the running game with 93 yards but David Hawkins added 73 and Keyon Prior 66.  Those efforts helped the Wolverines to a 14th consecutive win.
San Juan is already 1-1 on the season and both results have been lopsided.  They lost their opener 56-13 but won their next contest 47-0.  QB Corbin Palmer has 360 yards passing with six touchdowns in those two games.
La Junta topped Pagosa Springs 34- in the playoffs last year but the game was a bit closer than that margin indicates.  The Tigers led 14-0 at intermission and just 21-0 after three before opening it up in the final 12 minutes.  Jon Nuschy ran for 179 yards and four TD’s in the win while Zach Archuleta added 56 yards on the ground.
Neither of those two played many minutes last week as the Tigers blew it open early.  Dillon Stevens paced the offense with 82 yards rushing.  Nuschy and freshman Anthony Torrez were second with 54 and Nathan Frankmore added 53.
Pagosa Springs won six games last year but opened this season with a 34-6 loss to 3A ranked Durango in their opener.  The Pirates got on the board late in the first half on a touchdown run from Paden Bailey but still trailed 27-6 at that point.
#7 Rifle makes their 2A debut this Friday but in doing so, the Bears meet a very familiar foe in Eagle Valley.  The Devils are a member of the 3A Western Slope and met Rifle on a regular basis in conference play.  The Bears though have dominated this series winning every contest in the MaxPreps era (since 2004).  Over those 14 wins, only three games have been decided by single digits and the Bears have allowed more than 14 points only once.
Last year the end result was a 47-6 victory for Rifle.  Tanner Vines ran for 226 yards and a touchdown in the win and he is back after rushing for over 2,000 yards as a junior.  Levi Warfel also returns for Coach Damon Wells and he scored twice against Eagle Valley in 2017.
The Devils need a spark and a win over Rifle could get them pointed back in the right direction.  A playoff team as recent as 2015, they suffered through a winless 2017 campaign.
Another game out west involving a ranked team pits #8 Basalt against 1A Olathe.  Former league rivals in the 2A division, the two clubs have not played since 2013 when Olathe scored a 34-0 victory.  The Pirates reached the playoffs in 2A that year but have not been back since.  Basalt, on the other hand, is the two-time defending league champion and seeking a third consecutive post-season appearance.  They’ve won 21 games over the past three years and earned their second playoff win in school (over Salida) last year.
#10 Bennett is back in the 2A division after two very successful seasons in Class 1A.  The Tigers dropped just three games in two years and two of those losses came in the state semifinals.  Up first in 2A is a home game with Ellicott on Friday.
The Tigers easily won last year’s matchup 54-14 and ran for 466 yards.  Mason Wakeham had limited carries in the win and totaled just 47 yards but he surpassed 1,000 yards for the year.  Ellicott created just 172 yards of offense in the loss and 166 of that was lost with the graduation of talented QB Chiante Stewart.
The Thunderhawks are 0-1 this season following a 27-8 loss to the Rye Thunderbolts last week.  They allowed 205 yards rushing and will now have to deal with Bennett’s powerful double-wing attack.
Finishing up the top 10 schedule this week is a Thursday date between #4 Kent Denver and Grand Valley.  This game was a late addition as Grand Valley needed games following the decision by Gunnison to not field a team this year.  The visiting Cardinals are a 1A team that won just two games last year after making the playoffs in 2016.  Kent Denver sees their first action since the frustrating first round loss to Resurrection Christian last November.
Will finish this week’s report with a quick note on Riverdale Ridge.  Based in Thornton, the Ravens are the newest 2A school and will open their program against Jefferson on Friday.  Riverdale Ridge will be led by veteran coach Wayne Voorhees who will launch the program after many successful campaigns at 5A Legacy.