With three top 10 clubs having the week off, the 3A football schedule is a bit light this week and the focus turns to teams at or hovering around 500 that need wins to boost RPI standings going into conference play the next two weeks.  Games that fit this mold are Thomas Jefferson-Pueblo South, Pueblo West-Pueblo East and Conifer-Palisade.  Discovery Canyon also looks for traction as they challenge 4th ranked Fort Morgan.


Discovery Canyon looks to reverse momentum after being outscored 95-14 in losses to Mead and Pine Creek the last two weeks.  The Thunder also has a win over Pueblo South in a loaded pre-conference schedule that is designed to offset a league slate where they will be heavily favored in every game except for the showdown with Durango on October 15th.  The tough schedule has Discovery Canyon 11th in RPI despite the five hundred mark (2-2).

The challenge at Fort Morgan will be a tough one.  The Mustangs offensive firepower was on display again last week in a 42-7 win at Conifer.  Briggs Wheatley had another huge game; rushing for four touchdowns on just seven carries.  Most of those scores were set up with a stellar performance in the air where he completed all 12 pass attempts for 236 yards and another score.  Fernando Marquez caught six passes for 94 yards; the TD went to Brayden Fajardo.

There is some concern on the defensive side as the Mustangs gave up 199 yards rushing to Conifer and nearly seven yards per carry.  They did intercept three passes including two from Frank Ortega.

Conifer looks for a rebound as they go to Palisade this week.   Both clubs are 2-2 overall with Palisade 10th in RPI and Conifer 21st.  Each team has shown flashes of high level football this year and each will remain in the playoff chase regardless of outcome this week.

Palisade is facing their first 3A opponent of the season.  Wins have been against 2A ranked rivals Rifle and Delta with losses alternating in-between against 4A teams Grand Junction Central and Montrose.  Until last week’s 42-7 loss to Montrose, the Bulldogs were able to run the football; totaling at least 279 in each contest.  They were limited to 164 on 35 carries against Montrose.  10 of their 18 pass attempts came in the loss as well.

There is good depth in backfield as four players have at least 200 yards rushing.  Phallen Salvait leads the way with 371 followed by Rhett Ward (293), Malakhi Espinoza (280) and Franklin Barks (239).  Those four will look to establish the run and control the clock against the Lobos.

Stopping the Palisade offense may provide difficult for Conifer.  The Lobos gave up 353 yards and 35 points to Glenwood Springs in week three and then another 345 yards and 42 points to Fort Morgan last Friday.  Gauge Womack tops the offense.  He’s been over 100 yards twice this year and leads the Lobos with 370 yards on the ground.

Thomas Jefferson (2-2) heads to Pueblo South (1-2) for a battle of teams looking to climb the RPI ladder.  Neither would be in the playoff bracket right now as the Spartans are 19th in RPI and the Colts 31st.  Both though are favored to win their conference championship and lock up postseason bids in that manner.

Should be good one with both clubs featuring plenty of firepower.  South welcomed back Jace Bellah from injury and the senior QB responded with 213 yards and three touchdowns passing in the win over Lewis Palmer.  He also ran for a fourth score on the ground.  TD passes went to Ray Aragon, Mateo Esquivel and Ryan Lane while Elijah Aguilar added another 89 yards rushing.

The Colts defense was also strong; limiting Lewis Palmer to 99 total yards and just 93 on the ground.  They also picked off four passes including two from Esquivel.

That defense will face a physical Thomas Jefferson running game that likes to attack defenses between the tackles.  And they apply that pressure with several different weapons.  In last week’s win over D’Evelyn, ten different Spartans ran the football with Jake Tapia getting the most attempts (8).  He finished with 68 yards and a touchdown.  QB Austin Lindegren and Dmitri Haralambopoulous each reaching the end zone twice.

The defense had 3.5 sacks and two interceptions and will be challenged against by Bellah and the Colts offense.  Jeremiah Barela finished with six tackles and a sack last week.

The first of many rivalries in Pueblo again this year is this week as West faces East.  The teams did not play last year due to the reduced schedule from COVID but West grabbed a 35-10 win in 2019 and has won the last three in the series.  The Eagles last celebrated a win in 2016 (23-21).

Despite the five hundred marks, both teams seem to be in good shape to land a playoff berth.  Pueblo East has played a very good schedule and because of that, the Eagles are sixth in 3A RPI.  Pueblo West is 10th in Class 4A and has more room for error since 24 teams qualify for the playoffs in that division.

Pueblo East has won two straight overall as they’re coming off wins over Mesa Ridge (21-18) and Cheyenne Mountain (27-10).  Blake Nazario is their top threat offensively as the senior has 300 yards rushing with three touchdowns.  Pueblo West leans on QB Cole Brinkley as he’s thrown for 369 yards and three scores this year.

The normally effective Cyclones running game has struggled a bit this year as they’ve generated just 114 yards per game this year; about half their normal average.

#1 Roosevelt and #2 Mead should continue their dominance in week five.  The Riders (3-0) have outscored opponents 161-7 this season and are heavily favored against Riverdale Ridge this week.  The Mavericks have a 137-7 scoring advantage as they host Lewis Palmer.

#3 Lutheran steps up to Class 4A to visit Heritage (1-3).  The Eagles are coming off their first win of the season in last week’s 27-26 overtime win against Vista Peak.  All three of their losses are to 5A programs.  The Lions are 4-0 and have outscored Battle Mountain and Pueblo Central 121-0 over the last two weeks.

After a two week absence, #5 Frederick is chomping at the bit to the play and they return against Palmer on Thursday.  The Warriors had to sit out week three with COVID and then waited patiently through their bye last weekend.

#6 Durango looks to snap a two-game skid when they host Piedra Vista NM.  It’s their second straight out of state opponent as they fell to Farmington NM last week.

#8 Holy Family should get challenged by #2 Resurrection Christian from Class 2A.  That game will get a preview in our weekly 2A report.

#7 Evergreen, #9 Eagle Valley and #10 Glenwood Springs all have the week off.  Evergreen crushed 4A Gateway last week while the Devils earned a second overtime victory in beating University.  They also toppled Thomas Jefferson back in week one.  Glenwood Springs suffered their first loss in a 35-14 setback to 2A power Basalt last Friday.



#1 Roosevelt at Riverdale Ridge (THURS)

#2 Mead vs Lewis Palmer

#3 Lutheran at Heritage (THURS)

#4 Fort Morgan vs Discovery Canyon

#5 Frederick at Palmer (THURS)

#6 Durango vs Piedra Vista NM

#7 Evergreen – BYE

#8 Holy Family at #2 Resurrection Christian (2A)

#9 Eagle Valley – BYE

#10 Glenwood Springs – BYE