With the exception of the 8-9 game, the first round of the Class 2A football playoffs went according to seed. The seven highest seeded teams all collected victories and are joined by #9 Faith Christian in the quarterfinals.
#1 Bayfield (8-1) at #9 Faith Christian (8-2)
Faith Christian’s 9-7 win over Kent Denver last week snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Sun Devils. Trailing 7-3 at halftime, the Eagles picked up a rushing touchdown from David Nagy in the third and the defense made it stand up the rest of the game. Nagy finished with 86 yards on 19 carries and Erick Granados added 80 yards on 11 attempts. Defensively, the Eagles were solid in limiting Kent Denver to less than four yards per rushing attempts. They also surrendered only 51 yards passing to Joey Licht who combined for three touchdowns in Kent’s regular season win over Faith Christian.
The win was the eighth straight for Faith Christian this year and they’ve given up only 22 points over the last five.
Bayfield is the top seed in the bracket but this is a much different set of Wolverines than the group a year ago that outscored opponents 506-56 in winning the state championship. Over the last three weeks, the Wolverines have been living on the edge and were almost bounced from the playoffs by the #16 Montezuma Cortez last week. Bayfield trailed 14-0 in the third quarter but rallied with 19 points in the fourth to stay alive for another crown. It was the third consecutive tight game for the Wolverines and second straight where they won after trailing by at least 14 points at halftime. Salida led the Wolverines 14-0 two weeks ago before Bayfield scored the final 22 points of the game to claim the Intermountain league championship. And even before that, the Wolverines were fortunate to get by Pagosa Springs (14-13) in overtime.
The Wolverines totaled 460 yards in last week’s win and had success when they went conservative in a double-tight set with straight ahead running. David Hawkins finished with 80 yards and a touchdown and Keyon Prior provided 76 yards. He also caught four passes for 99 yards. The defense was strong allowing just 139 yards rushing and 55 through the air.
Faith Christian and Bayfield have met three times in the post-season with the most recent contest in 2014. Faith Christian won that game 40-14. Bayfield won a 2012 second round matchup 18-13 and Faith Christian also scored a 34-7 win in 2009 on their way to their last state championship.
A win puts Bayfield into the semifinals for a fourth straight year and keeps them in position for a third time in the last four seasons. Faith Christian last reached the semifinals in 2013. They were upset by Resurrection Christian (28-25) in the second round last year.
#5 Salida (9-1) at #4 La Junta (10-0)
Controlling the line of scrimmage is the goal for both clubs and each was very successful in doing so in last week’s first round. Salida ran a whopping 93 plays including 71 rushing attempts in a 33-20 win over Aspen while La Junta rang up 439 yards rushing in a 40-6 victory over Berthoud. Now the two power laded offenses meet in round two with a berth in the semifinals on the line.
Salida’s large number of players helped their defense in slowing down the Aspen passing game. The Skiers never got a chance to develop rhythm as the Spartans controlled the clock and time of possession. Vince Deleo set new career highs with 38 carries and 245 yards and matched a season best with four touchdowns in the win. QB David Zwingers also matched him with career bests in carries (15) and yards (83). Zwingers also threw for 70 yards as the Spartans earned their first playoff win since 2006.
La Junta got a huge game from QB Jon Nuschy as he ran for 217 yards and got into the end zone four times. Antonio Chavez added 112 yards and Dillon Stevens 51 and each scored a touchdown. The Tigers defense was again stingy and enters the quarterfinals having allowed just 68 points through ten games.
The teams have common opponents this year in Pagosa Springs and Alamosa and results in each were very similar. La Junta topped Pagosa Springs 34-14 and Alamosa 34-0. Salida also went 2-0 with 28 and 22-point margins.
The clubs are also familiar with one another having played each other in league play the past two years. La Junta won both battles; winning 39-16 in 2017 and 47-6 in 2016.
La Junta gets to the semifinals for a fourth straight year if they get the win this week. The Tigers of course have reached the state championship game each of the last two years. Salida last appeared in the quarterfinals in 2006 and lost to Platte Valley (35-0) that season. They last won a second round in 1997 as they made it all the way to the state championship game that year.
Our records indicate the two teams have played just once before and results from their 1936 matchup are not known.
#6 Platte Valley (10-0) at #3 Basalt (9-1)
A good matchup of a high scoring Platte Valley offense against a physical Basalt defense. The Broncos score 36 points a game and their 45-21 win over Delta in the first round was their fifth game with at least 40 points. Basalt downed D’Evelyn 26-14 in their playoff opener and the Longhorns allow just seven points a contest.
Platte Valley used 18 second quarter points to build a 25-7 halftime lead on Delta and they were not pushed the rest of the way. No stats are available from the game but the Broncos feature many offensive weapons. The group is led by third-year starting QB who entered the playoffs with 1,030 yards passing and 754 passing. He’s combined for 22 touchdowns. Ernesto Rios was the top rusher; with 864 yards and nine touchdowns. Six players have at least 10 catches including Josh Yancey with a team best 20 and two scores. Brendan Bunting also has four touchdown receptions.
Basalt ran for 230 yards and controlled the line of scrimmage against D’Evelyn. They allowed the Jags just 74 yards on 14 attempts. Jake Reardon paced the Basalt offense with 151 yards. They punted just once the entire game.
Defensively, Trevor Reuss led the way with 10 tackles and the Longhorns have seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Surprisingly, the Longhorns did not force a turnover as they entered the game with 29 for the season.
The win over D’Evelyn was just the third playoff win overall for Basalt but it was their second consecutive first round victory. Basalt does have one semifinal appearance in school history (1979) but that came with an eight-team bracket. They lost to Bayfield in the quarterfinals last year (41-0).
Platte Valley made the state semifinals four straight years from 2012-15 but have missed out the last two years. They were unbeaten a year ago but were upset by Eaton (9-6) in the second round last season. Last week’s win was the 25th in school history with all but three coming since 2006. The Broncos and Longhorns have not met previously in the playoffs.
#7 Rifle (9-1) at #2 Resurrection Christian (10-0)
Rifle likes to run the football and Resurrection Christian has been excellent in stopping the run this year so it’s another battle that could be decided by the men up front. Rifle’s Tanner Vines moved past the 2,000-yard mark for the second straight year in last week’s win (27-0) over Eaton. This week, he and the Bears face a Resurrection Christian defense that’s given up 548 yards on the ground for the entire year.
The Cougars defensive group limited Alamosa to 40 yards rushing in beating the Moose 28-6 last week. It was the fifth time in ten games Resurrection Christian has limited an opponent to 40 yards or less on the ground. The season high was 111 by Classical Academy.
Rifle averages 36 points overall and has moved past 45 in three separate games. They were held in check a bit last week in building a 6-0 halftime advantage but then tallied three second half touchdowns to advance. The Bears can also throw the ball and have eight touchdown passes on just 49 attempts overall.
Resurrection Christian ran the ball 61 times against Alamosa with Kyle Lueck getting the most carries (22) and most yards (94). He also scored twice. They Cougars jumped to a quick 10-0 lead and Alamosa could not draw closer the rest of the game.
It’s not surprising the two clubs have not met previously in the playoffs. Rifle has spent of the past couple of decades on the 3A level and Resurrection Christian was a 1A program until joining the 2A division in 2016. Rifle’s win last week was their second straight in the first round and a win this week gets them to the semifinals for the first time since 2014. Their win a week ago also evened their all-time playoff record to 32-32-1. Resurrection Christian reached the semifinals as a 15th seed last year and also reached the 1A Final Four in 2014-2015. Their win last week kept them unbeaten in first round games (7-0) all-time.