Following a week in which three 6man football games featured ranked opponents, week three matches that tally. Some of the big games in week two did not meet expectations, while others surpassed them.
Top-ranked Stratton/Liberty claimed a 66-23 victory over #4 Prairie in what both head coaches called an incredibly physical contest. Knighted Eagle head coach Toby Kechter noted that Prairie brought the physicality and his team rose to match it. They did so without Eltan Yarger, out with an injury suffered three weeks ago in a scrimmage against West Grand. The Knighted Eagles also lost their starting center on their first play.
“We had some inexperienced kids step up,” Kechter said. “Especially Tyler Hase, but I believe all of our players stepped up and played awesome.”
The final score is a bit misleading as to how competitive the game truly was. Stratton/Liberty only led 22-16 at the half, but four second half turnovers by the Mustangs led to the wide margin. Trevor Frank, who earned his first start on defense, led the Knighted Eagles with 11 tackles, including three sacks. Tyson Lichty added a fumble recovery and an interception to his four passing touchdowns.
Stratton/Liberty visits Hanover on Saturday and the Hornets will be riding high after a 56-2 win over Cripple Creek-Victor last week. Freshman David Brown ran for 134 yards and three scores in that victory.
Prairie has little time to recover as the Mustangs find themselves visiting #10 Briggsdale this week for a key clash inside the North Division. Prairie head coach Justin Kerns teaches at Briggsdale, so familiarity between the two programs is not solely based upon proximity. Cutting down on the turnovers is a big focus this week.
Briggsdale climbed into the top-10 after beating Sierra Grande 75-19 last week. Three different Falcons ran for more than 45 yards, including Luke Stewart who finished with 73 yards and three touchdowns. Ethan Malovich added two receiving scores. The Falcons have lost three of the last four meetings with the Mustangs, including a 56-0 decision last year.
Third-ranked Kit Carson and #5 Arickaree/Woodlin each played a ranked opponent last week, ahead of their game this Friday at Woodlin. Kit Carson jumped all over previously ninth-ranked La Veta, downing the Redskins 73-6. “I thought we executed really well in all three phases, having three special teams touchdowns and three defensive touchdowns,” head coach Curt Connelley said.
Arickaree/Woodlin had to come from behind and then hold on for a 26-20 victory over #9 Fleming (#6 last week). The Indian-Mustangs took the lead early in the fourth quarter, gave it back with about a minute left, and reclaimed it with less than 30 seconds to play on a long run by Michael McCaffrey. The Wildcats nearly had lightning strike twice, as they nearly scored in the same fashion as they had on the previous series. The Indian-Mustangs were able to corral the ball carrier short of the goal line to preserve the victory.
Opening the season ranked in the top three and facing ranked opponents in each of the first two weeks, Connelley has taken a simple approach to keeping his squad focused on the task each game. “We just keep reminding them that rankings don’t matter and unlike last year, we are not sneaking up on anyone. We are going to get everybody’s best shot.”
Fleming and sixth-ranked Peetz will each be gunning for not only its first win of the season when they meet, but the winner grabs an early share of the lead in the North. Fleming’s defense was strong all night in the loss last week, surrendering the game-winner on a broken play.
The Wildcats will take on a Peetz squad that has had two weeks to improve after a disappointing second half against Otis in the season-opener. The recent series has been very even, with each side winning eight times. The Bulldogs took two from Fleming last year, including a 40-28 decision in the playoffs.
Second-ranked Otis has also had two weeks to prepare for its opponent this Friday. The Bulldogs will host a very different looking Genoa-Hugo team than the one they saw in the postseason last year. Otis beat a senior-laden Pirates squad 89-70 in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Bulldogs have the classifications leading rusher in Bryce Miracle, who ran for 309 yards and six scores in the last meeting. He had 321 yards and six touchdowns in the season-opener. Greg Tidquist, one of two seniors for a very young Genoa-Hugo, threw for 239 yards and three scores in a 43-24 loss to Cheyenne Wells last week.
That win kept the Tigers at #7 in the poll and they will host an Idalia team that won a thriller last week in Granada, 44-40. Jade Cozart carried the load for Cheyenne Wells in its win, running for 229 yards and four touchdowns, while also tying Quade Pelton for defensive honors with 14 tackles. Cozart added two sacks and two fumble recoveries for the Tigers.
The Wolves had two backs go over the century mark in the win over the Bobcats, led by senior Sam McGinnis (148 yards, 3 TD). Freshman Yahir Enriquez added 104 yards and two touchdowns in his first high school contest.
Flagler/Hi-Plains climbed one spot to #8 following its 62-25 win on the road at Walsh. Kyle Klann led the Thunder with 118 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, while also snagging a pair of TD passes from Zayd Banks, and throwing another to Nathan Sayles. Banks finished with 155 yards through the air. The Thunder will host Edison on Friday, in the season-opener for the Eagles.
Just outside of the top-10, Cotopaxi and La Veta in a clash of former conference rivals. Both were members of the Southwest Division for several years, but with realignment, the Redskins are not part of the newly formed South Central.
Cotopaxi earned a 36-27 road win at North Park last Saturday, outscoring the Wildcats 18-7 in the fourth quarter. Peter Belt threw for more than 100 yards with a touchdown, and Tyler Sawyer and Steven Tunstall each rushed for two scores in the win. Nathaniel Holguin provided two of the highlights for La Veta in the loss to Kit Carson, recovering a fumble on defense and also returning a kick-off 70 yards for the lone score.