The opening weekend of play in six-man saw a very light schedule, with only one game contested. That featured a pair of top five teams. Things heat up this week, as three games have ranked opponents squaring off.
Third-ranked Otis got the season started on the right foot, overcoming a first half deficit to down #5 Peetz, 64-43. The homestanding Bulldogs received a huge effort from Bryce Miracle, who finished with 321 yards and six touchdowns rushing, 103 yards and one TD passing, and one more score as a receiver. Ty Hunt also threw for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns. Otis is home again this week, facing Genoa-Hugo. The last time they played the Pirates was in the playoffs last year, and the Bulldogs won a track meet, 89-70.
Peetz led by two scores late in the second quarter of that loss, but could not sustain the success after the break. Bryson Long led the way with 105 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The Bulldogs will be off this week before facing North division rival, Fleming, next Friday.
Speaking of Fleming, the seventh-ranked Wildcats host #8 Arickaree/Woodlin in a non-league contest on Friday. Fleming won last year’s meeting, 38-32, but this year’s squad has a different look. After losing a their leading rusher, Kolton Dickinson, who rushed for over 300 yards in the win at Woodlin in 2017, the Wildcats will have to find a new workhorse this season.
Arickaree/Woodlin lost one senior from last year’s team, so the Indian-Mustangs are looking to improve upon a 3-5 mark. A win on the road in week two would go a long way. Both teams must stay focused on the task at hand, as each has a top-five opponent waiting in the wings. While Fleming has the league date with Peetz up next, Arickaree/Woodlin hosts #2 Kit Carson next Friday.
In what many consider a potential playoff preview, and maybe even a state championship game caliber clash, top-ranked Stratton/Liberty plays host to #4 Prairie on Friday. The Knighted Eagles had a fourth quarter lead in last season’s title game before seeing Peetz roar back and claim the 38-28 victory. Toby Kechter’s squad wants to get that bad taste out of its mouth and will look to start that process against a very good Prairie team. The Knighted Eagles lost an 1800-yard rusher from last season, so a new lead back will also need to be found. Eltan Yarger is the leading candidate.
Prairie must replace both of its top two runners from last season, but the Mustangs return a number of key pieces. A strong group of athletes from Pawnee will once again give Justin Kerns several options to fill the voids. The Mustangs were undefeated heading into the quarterfinals last year, where they were tripped up by Kit Carson. Like their opponents this week, they are also dealing with that disappointment and wanting to rid themselves of it.
The final contest pairing featuring ranked opponents sees #9 La Veta making the trip to #2 Kit Carson on Friday. La Veta will lean on the experienced Ty Warren as it looks to continue recent success. The Redskins have averaged seven wins a year over the last three seasons. They are the favorite in the newly formed South Central division and games like this will be a true measuring stick.
Kit Carson reached the semifinals last year, its first season under Curt Connelley. After returning almost everyone from that squad, the Wildcats have a realistic shot at taking the next step and competing for the title this year. Experienced depth is a key for the Wildcats, as all but two players from last season are back.
Genoa-Hugo and #6 Cheyenne Wells will both unveil different looking rosters from last year when they meet on Friday. Both teams were hit very hard by graduation. The Tigers return the most experienced player on either team, with Quade Pelton back to run the show. Just a junior, Pelton is one of the top returning quarterbacks in the class, providing Cheyenne Wells with a true dual-threat in the backfield.
Tenth-ranked North Park has to wait until Saturday to kick-off the 2018 campaign. They were also hit hard by graduation and will need to fill the holes around Bryce Carlstrom. The Wildcats will host Cotopaxi, who is also in need of players to step up and fill spots left open by graduation. Both teams made the playoffs last season and a win this week will give one a leg up in doing so again.