Teams in Class 3A football have a ten-game regular season schedule so while other divisions get started with league play this week, clubs in this classification have one more week of non-conference play. Many top clubs, including four of the top 10 clubs in the latest rankings, are using this week as the bye week as rest and extra preparation for the conference schedule.
But we did find four games on the schedule that could draw some statewide interest. They include Mead at Erie, Skyline at Holy Family and Evergreen at Palisade. We also toss in the matchup between Niwot and Eagle Valley as both teams are 2-2 and appear improved after suffering through winless seasons in 2017.
The most explosive game could be between Skyline (4A) and Holy Family. The Falcons are just two points shy on the season of averaging 40 points per game while the Tigers enter the game averaging nearly 37 points a contest. Skyline also gives up 25 points per game and Holy Family 33 so the game could turn into one of those games where the last team to have possession could steal the victory.
Another key to the game could be the availability of Holy Family QB Calahan Carter. He has thrown for 918 yards on the season but left the game with Roosevelt last week after attempting just eight passes. Kyle Helbig, like a year ago, moved over from wide receiver and was effective with 176 yards and two scores through the air. Before the move, Helbig led the team with 20 catches for 265 yards and six touchdowns. Right now, we’re unsure which player will start the game taking snaps.
Skyline meantime is set at QB as Chase Silva continues to put together a solid sophomore campaign. Through four games, he has 855 yards passing and 10 touchdowns against just one interception. He completed 16 of 26 attempts for 188 yards and four TD’s in last week’s loss to Longmont.
The running game is also in great shape. Jeremy Hollingsworth reached the 200-yard mark for the second time last week (202) and he enters week five with 661 yards and eight touchdowns. The senior is over 2,500 yards with Skyline after moving in from Summit.
Mead goes to Erie to challenge the top ranked Tigers. As with every opponent for Erie, the crucial element is stopping the running game headed up by Noah Roper. The senior is at 736 yards and 12 TD’s this season and needs just 154 yards this week to reach five thousand for his career.
To steal a baseball phrase, Mead’s magic number this week may be 4.0. The Mavericks are 2-0 when they hold opponents to under four yards per carry and 0-2 when they don’t. Holding Roper to that number may be difficult but it could mean the difference between a win and loss for the Mavericks.
Mead had scored just 55 points through three games but exploded for a season high in their 41-0 blowout of Roosevelt two weeks ago. They had last week off so they will be well rested and prepared for the top ranked Tigers. Friday could be the last test for Erie until a regular season closing game with Fort Morgan. Between this week and that game, the Tigers meet Northridge, Niwot, Roosevelt and Thompson Valley. Combined the opponents have just two wins.
Evergreen’s defense has shown great improvement since the opening week of the season and the Cougars will be another test against Palisade this week. Evergreen allowed 62 points in losses to Erie and Eagle Valley but then surrendered only 14 over the past two weeks in beating Mead and Eagle Valley.
Grant Harris (26 tackles) lead that’s unit but the senior gets help from Gavan Foote (25), Cade Carroll (23) and Mason Schmid (21). The Cougars have nine sacks, 15 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and four turnovers forced.
That group will be keyed on Palisade QB Cam Tucker. The signal caller is a load to bring down in the running game and has generated 625 yards and six scores on the ground. He’s also thrown for 202 yards and seventh TD in the passing game. The Bulldogs will also be feisty after dropping their game of the season to Montrose last week. They allowed a touchdown in the closing minute and came up short 21-17 on the road.
Palisade’s defense is paced by Carl Cox (42 tackles) and Cody Cordova (35). Tucker has also picked off two passes.
Averaging 267 yards on the ground, Evergreen also gets much of its offense from the running game. Beck Barrett (293) and Ben Haefei (284) are the top two rushers and have combined for four touchdowns.
Both Niwot and Eagle Valley still have plenty of work to do to earn a playoff berth but we wanted to mention their head-to-head battle this week since both teams are at five hundred for the season (2-2). Niwot has had only one three-win season since making the playoffs in 2008 (7-4) while Eagle Valley made the playoffs as recent as 2015 but suffered through an 0-10 campaign last year.
The Devils have beaten Northridge and Alameda and have losses to Rifle and Evergreen (35-7 last week). Niwot has won their last two over Fort Lupton and Littleton following opening losses to George Washington and Greeley Central. Liam Flanagan, with 335 yards, paces the Cougars running game and Julian Bell tops receivers with eight catches for 120 yards.
#2 Discovery Canyon, #6 Palmer Ridge, #7 Pueblo East and #9 Durango are all off this week. The Thunder and Bears are in the Central conference. Discovery Canyon hosts Littleton next week and Palmer Ridge goes to Lutheran. East and Durango are both in the South Central division; the Demons host Centennial and the Eagles meet Pueblo South.
#4 Thomas Jefferson should stay perfect on the season as they visit Thompson Valley on Saturday. The Eagles are struggling again (0-4) and have lost 19 straight games. The Spartans feature several big-time weapons on offense including QB Trenton Koser with 724 yards and seven touchdowns passing. RB Daveon Hunter has rushed for 649 yards and six touchdowns while Keshaun Taylor and Drea Thompson have each caught two touchdown passes.
#5 Harrison heads to Pueblo County for their third straight meeting against a Pueblo school. The Panthers have beaten Pueblo Centennial 21-0 and Pueblo Central 20-7 over the past couple of weeks. A win is important as their RPI will take a hit in league play with games against teams with a current combined record of 3-17. Pueblo County (2-2) rolled Mitchell 41-0 last week.
#10 Fort Morgan heads to Northfield on Saturday. The Mustangs recovered from a week four loss to Thomas Jefferson by beating Conifer 34-14 last week. They blew it open with 20 third quarter points including a kickoff return for touchdown by JP Hamer. He ran for 101 yards and Isaac Linker threw for 100 in the win.
Northfield (1-3) scored their lone win of the season against Alameda but the game marked the first ever varsity win for the first-year program. They lost to Thomas Jefferson last week (44-0).