It’s the final four weeks of regular season play, and there are two clashes between ranked teams on the docket. Idalia and Prairie get things started on Thursday with an important non-league fight, while Briggsdale and Fleming square off on Friday, in North division play. Those are far from the only key games this weekend, as three divisions could have champions crowned.
PHOTO BY JOHN SCHECTER
Fifth-ranked Prairie (5-1, 5th RPI) put together a huge second half last week to hand Briggsdale its first loss of the season. The Mustangs led 24-20 at the half, and then exploded for a 60-28 victory. David Speicher had a big pick-six in the third quarter, and also added two receiving touchdowns on the day, giving him 10 touchdowns on 19 receptions this season. Claytin Hove ran for two scores, caught one, and passed for another, and Andy Long threw for 167 yards and three touchdowns. Hove also stood out on defense, registering a team-high 13 tackles and an interception. The win kept Prairie tied with Fleming atop the North division.
The Mustangs will host #7 Idalia (3-2, 6th RPI) on Thursday, with the Wolves coming off a 32-16 loss to Stratton last Friday. The Wolves slipped into a second place tie in the East Central with Arickaree/Woodlin (3-2, 8th RPI). Yahir Enriquez ran for a TD and also caught one from Eduardo Estrada, who threw for 117 yards and two interceptions. Enriquez hauled in four passes for 110 yards, and ran for a team-high 74. Estrada had a team-best 13 tackles and an interception, and Enriquez added a dozen stops. Kagen Hoyda chipped in an interception and a blocked kick.
This will be the third meeting between the two squads in the last four years. Prairie earned a 76-41 victory last season, with Andy Long throwing for four touchdowns. Kye Towns rushed for more than 200 yards and three scores for Idalia in the loss, and Estrada connected three times for touchdowns with Enriquez. Prairie also won 50-34 in 2018.
Briggsdale (5-1, 12th RPI) had been ranked ninth in the coaches poll prior to the loss last week, but the Falcons were bounced out of the rankings this week. They can still grab a share of the division title, but need to go on the road Friday and defeat #3 Fleming (5-1, 4th RPI), and then have Fleming beat Prairie next week. The 28 points scored last week were a season-low, and just the second time that the Falcons failed to score at least 56 points this season.
Fleming has gotten the job done in different ways the last two weeks. Against North Park, the Wildcats rode the legs of Nolan Japp, who gained 188 yards and scored four times on just 10 carries. Last week, in a 62-18 win over Weldon Valley, it was Braylen Feather’s arm, as the junior hit on 12 of 14 passes for 187 yards and five touchdowns. Joel Muller caught six passes for 104 yards and three scores, and added two interceptions, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown on defense. Hayden Burr had a team-leading 13 tackles.
Fleming has won six straight against Briggsdale, including a 63-14 victory two seasons ago. Overall, the Wildcats have taken 14 of 15 against the Falcons. Fleming has scored at least 50 points in 12 of those 15 contests, while Briggsdale has not scored more than 42 in any of those prior match-ups.
Friday night, top-ranked Cheyenne Wells (6-0, 2nd RPI) can lock up the South East division title with a victory over #10 Cheraw (4-2, 10th RPI). The Tigers ended up receiving a forfeit from Walsh (2-4, 19th RPI) last week, after the Eagles had COVID issue arise late in the week. Cade Mitchek leads the Tigers with 645 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns, 1084 all purpose yards, and 19 total touchdowns. Blake Gilmore has completed 21 of 29 passes for 477 yards and seven touchdowns, with zero interceptions, and also has two of the team’s nine return touchdowns.
Cheraw defeated Eads (2-4, 13th RPI) 66-6 last week, claiming its first win over the Eagles since 1982. That win kept the Wolverines one game back of Cheyenne Wells in the league race, but with Granada’s win over Cheraw two weeks ago, the Wolverines sit third in the division. A win over Cheyenne Wells creates a three-way tie for the lead. With Cade Phillips leading the passing attack, and a trio of hard-running backs (Daniel Escareno, Wade Goodrich, Braeden Harris) the Wolverines average 44 points a game. They’re allowing just over 27 a night.
Cheyenne Wells has won four straight in the series, and five of six with the teams in six-man. The teams did not play last season, but the Tigers took a 60-22 win two years ago. Mitchek scored four times in that contest, including one on special teams. The Wolverines were held to 165 yards of offense in that loss.
Branson/Kim (5-0, 11th RPI) can wrap up the South Central title on Saturday with a victory over Miami-Yoder (1-3, 27th RPI) on the road. The sixth-ranked Bearcats are coming off their bye, with their last on field action being a 75-13 win over Primero (0-3, 30th RPI) two weeks ago. It was their third straight game with more than 70 points. Brody Doherty threw for four touchdowns, Owen Doherty added two TD tosses, and Cade Smith hauled in three touchdown passes. Brock Doherty added a defensive tally on a pick-six.
Miami-Yoder had been slated to be part of the Central division, but shifted to the South Central prior to the season to give that league three members. The Buffs could claim the division title with a win, as they own a 77-20 victory over Primero. They will have to perform better on defense than they have up to this point, as opponents have scored more than 60 points in their other three games. They dropped a 73-25 decision to Genoa-Hugo last week.
This will be the first meeting between the two programs. Miami-Yoder is in its second season of six-man.
Genoa-Hugo (5-0, 9th RPI) was slated to visit Deer Trail (3-2, 21st RPI) on Thursday, with a victory giving the ninth-ranked Pirates the Central division championship. However, Deer Trail developed COVID issues in the school earlier in the week and will not be able to play as planned. A forfeit would make Genoa-Hugo the league champions.
Second-ranked Stratton (4-1, 1st RPI) got a blocked kick for a first quarter touchdown and a 43-yard field goal from Braden Wedel in the fourth to make the difference in last week’s win over Idalia. Their defense also came up with two interceptions. The Eagles will travel west a short distance to face off with longtime rival, Flagler (1-3, 26th RPI). Flagler has dropped its last three games by a combined score of 173-31. That includes last week’s 51-19 loss at Granada. The Panthers gave up two kick returns for touchdowns in that loss.
Fourth-ranked Granada (4-1, 3rd RPI) has also been affected by forfeiture this week. The Bobcats were scheduled to host Walsh on Friday as part of their homecoming festivities, but the Eagles are still dealing with COVID and had to cede that game. Granada will have a huge non-league clash next week, as they will host Branson/Kim next Friday.
After blasting Cotopaxi (0-4, 25th RPI) 56-0 last Saturday, #8 Sierra Grande (5-0, 7th RPI) officially laid claim to the South West division title. The Panthers got five total touchdowns from Isiah Chairez in that win, and Tyler Kester returned an interception for a score. It was the second straight shutout by the Panthers, who have their bye this week, before traveling to meet Arickaree/Woodlin next Saturday.
Eads and Hanover (3-3, 17th RPI) will meet on Saturday in a game with major RPI ramifications. Eads currently occupies one of the postseason positions, with the Hornets just outside the final spot. Hanover freshman David Byers recorded his second career 100-yard rushing game last week, as he went for 106 yards and two touchdowns in a 52-6 win over Kiowa. When healthy, Eads’ sophomore Porter Spady is as talented as any runner in the classification. Hanover will have the home field advantage, as the Hornets look for their first win against Eads. Eads is 3-0 against Hanover, including lopsided victories in 2018 and 2019.
North Park’s 69-19 win over Peetz (2-4, 20th RPI) has the Wildcats (3-3, 14th RPI) sitting in a playoff spot this week. North Park got three touchdown passes from Hunter Sessions, all to Montgomery Ramsey in the emotional victory. Ramsey unexpectedly lost his father earlier in the week. Ale Nugent added three rushing scores for the Wildcats, who dedicated the game to the memory of their teammate’s father. North Park will host Pawnee (0-4, 23rd RPI) on Saturday in league play.
Otis (2-4, 16th RPI) and Hi-Plains (2-3, 18th RPI) are tied for fourth in the East Central and the winner of next Friday’s contest in Seibert could very well end up in the postseason. Otis has a home contest with Kit Carson (0-6, 24th RPI) on Saturday, while Hi-Plains is off this week. The Bulldogs dropped a 38-30 decision to Arickaree/Woodlin, in which Tayte Smith ran for 248 yards and three touchdowns. Kit Carson fell 53-34 to Hi-Plains last week. Brett Mayhan threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns in that loss.
Arickaree/Woodlin got a huge night from Logan Wright in that win over Otis, as the junior ran for 281 yards and three touchdowns, threw for 95 yards and two scores, recorded a career-high 21 tackles (four for loss), and even kicked a PAT. Bryce Shaffer added 13 tackles and two interceptions, while Samuel Koolstra had 18 tackles and a pick. Dillon Noletubby and Estevan Ramirez each recovered a fumble. The Indian-Mustangs travel to Kiowa (0-5, 29th RPI) on Friday for a non-league contest.
Mountain Valley (4-2, 15th RPI) secured second place in the South West with last week’s 45-20 win over La Veta (1-5, 28th RPI). Tristan Martinez went for 186 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, and Jacob Martinez added 102 yards and a score. The Indians are off this week before closing with Primero and Eads.