To call the newest CHSAANow.com rankings fluid might be an understatement. Last week caused so much movement that it looks very little like the preseason poll. Three teams exited, creating space for three new members, and the other seven occupy different slots from the rankings released just a few weeks ago.
Leading the shake-up was Cheyenne Wells’ 70-20 victory over the previous #1 team, Flagler. After trailing 20-16 one period into last Friday’s championship game rematch, the Tigers exploded for 44 unanswered points, including 26 in the second and 20 in the third. Quade Pelton looked comfortable running the offense, completing 11 of 17 passes for 206 yards and five touchdowns. Wyatt Fishler did a bit of everything, leading the team with 76 rushing yards and 92 receiving yards, while also throwing for 20. The senior also added 108 yards in returns. The Cheyenne Wells defense came up with four interceptions, a fumble recovery, and two blocked kicks.
That victory propelled the Tigers up two spots, as they became the new #1 squad this week. Cheyenne Wells will welcome in Branson/Kim on Saturday, in what is the season-opener for the Bearcats. The Branson/Kim program is still in its infancy, as they are playing just their third season of football at any classification. Flagler’s loss to the Tigers created a precipitous drop, as the Panthers completely fell out of the top ten this week. They will try to get back on track when they visit Idalia on Friday.
Stratton/Liberty climbed four spots to #2 this week, after downing last week’s #7 team, Genoa-Hugo (51-14). The Knighted Eagles only led 8-7 at the end of the first quarter, but Toby Kechter’s squad outscored the Pirates 35-0 over the next two frames. Jacob McCormick did a lot of damage for the Knighted Eagles, rushing for 182 yards and two scores, while adding a touchdown reception. Tyson Lichty added 41 yards through the air, with two TD passes. The Stratton/Liberty defense registered four sacks, all by Phillip Pickard, and four takeaways. Caid Smith led Genoa-Hugo with 97 yards on the ground and 64 passing.
Next up for Stratton/Liberty will be a home contest with Elbert on Friday. The Bulldogs were blasted by Briggsdale (73-37) last week. In that loss, they surrendered over 350 rushing yards and nearly 200 passing. As was the case with Flagler, Genoa-Hugo fell out of the rankings with its loss. However, the Pirates only missed the top ten by three votes. They will visit an Eads squad that dropped its opener to Otis, 54-14. The Eagles led that game 7-6 after one quarter, but they could not hold onto the ball, losing four interceptions and two fumbles as the game slipped away.
Third-ranked Peetz became the early favorite in the North Division after pounding North Park 63-13 last Thursday. The Bulldogs led 30-0 at the half and never really looked back. Bryson Long lived up to his preseason hype, as the junior rushed for 178 yards and four touchdowns, while also tossing a 57-yard TD pass to Logan Sircy. Sircy only had two receptions, but he nearly tallied 100 yards on them. He also had a big night on defense, tying for team honors with 11 tackles, and returning an interception for a touchdown.
North Park, who went from unranked to #7 this week (they beat the preseason #2 team in zero week), struggled to get a rhythm on offense. The Wildcats rushed for 134 yards, but only averaged a little over four yards a carry. Blayden Fletcher led the way with 82 yards on 21 attempts, and Nic Martin added 42 yards on six carries. Martin scored both touchdowns for the Wildcats, one on the ground and one on the receiving end of a pass from Austin Bertron.
Peetz will travel out of state to face Creek Valley (NE) on Friday. The Storm dropped from eight-man just prior to the season and enters the game 0-1 after forfeiting to Sedgwick County two weeks ago. This is a bye week for North Park, who will gear up for a huge non-league game next Saturday with La Veta.
Kit Carson picked up one spot in the rankings, checking in at #4 this week after holding off Idalia (32-26) in Curt Connelley’s debut as head coach. The Wildcats are at home again this week, hosting Cheraw on Friday. The Wolverines were dropped 36-6 by Edison at home in their opener. This is the first Southeast Division game for both Kit Carson and Cheraw this season.
Making the biggest jump this week is Otis, who enters the rankings for the first time at #5 after being unranked in the preseason. The Bulldogs overcame a slow start at Eads last week, pulling away from an 18-14 halftime lead to claim the 54-14 victory. Junior quarterback Ty Hunt threw for 120 yards and three scores, one apiece to Bryce Miracle, Tyler Thorn and Tate Goble, and Miracle added 119 rushing yards with two scores in the balanced attack. Goble led the defensive effort with 14 tackles and two interceptions, returning one for a score. The Bulldogs will play host to Weldon Valley on Friday. The Warriors struggled early in their opener with Sierra Grande and fell by a 42-6 count.
Up three spots to #6 this week is Arickaree/Woodlin, who went on the road and dominated Walsh 50-6 last Friday. The Indian-Mustangs led that contest 50-0 at the half, as the Eagles could not match the speed of Kevin Ramirez. Arickaree/Woodlin should regain the services of Lane Kolman for this week’s game with #7 Fleming. Kolman has not played since suffering a knee injury in a preseason scrimmage in 2016. He will add to the depth on both sides of the ball for the Indian-Mustangs, bringing a mix of speed and strength.
Fleming has had an extra week to regroup after the heartbreaking 31-25 loss at North Park in zero week. The Wildcats broke in several new starters in that game, with a number of freshmen getting their first high school experience. Kolton Dickinson and Brandon Williams ripped off big chunks of yardage on the ground throughout the game, but a few miscues on exchanges kept the offense from truly finding a groove. The extra week of practice should help clean those up heading into Friday’s game at Woodlin.
Jumping out to a 25-0 first quarter lead, #9 Cotopaxi rolled to a 65-13 victory over Mountain Valley last Friday. Kurt Voll had a field day throwing the ball for the Pirates, completing 14 of 19 passes for 208 yards and six TDs. Cotopaxi did not need much from its ground game, but Arlo Garner supplied 112 yards on just five carries. Garner also contributed two sacks on defense. The Pirates will make a long trek east on Saturday to face Hanover. The Hornets crushed Cripple Creek-Victor 63-0 in a Central Division contest last Saturday.
The final team in the top-10 this week is La Veta, which makes its first appearance of the young season. The Redskins had few issues in their opener against Aguilar, racing out to a 56-0 lead before the end of the third quarter. They would go on to win 56-13. Eric Morgan threw four touchdown passes and rushed for another, but the defense was the real star on the day. La Veta held the Wildcats to just 125 yards of offense, most coming late in the game. Tannis Everett had two sacks and two forced fumbles for that unit, and Clayton Watson secured a pair of takeaways. The Redskins will look to move to 2-0 in Friday’s home game with Walsh.
A game of interest involving teams from just outside the top-10 has Briggsdale visiting Prairie on Friday. Both teams won their openers last week in lopsided fashion and this will be a key North Division clash. Ty Blickem threw for 180 yards and five scores in Briggsdale’s 73-37 rout of Elbert, while Trenton Holzworth rushed for 132 yards and three scores as Prairie downed Deer Trail 64-13. Adding intrigue to the contest is the fact that Prairie’s head coach, Justin Kerns, teaches English at Briggsdale. Oh, the peculiarities of small school football.>