In a week that could see quite a few blowouts, there are a number of intriguing games featuring top-ten squads. Two of those are non-conference match-ups, while the rest have league title implications.
Top-ranked Peetz (3-0) gets back to work on Saturday after a having a bye last week. The Bulldogs will host Briggsdale (2-2) in a North Division clash, with a huge contest against #5 Prairie on the horizon next week. Peetz has scored 58 points or more in all three games this season and has not allowed more than 13 to any opponent. With that kind of output, it would be easy to focus on the offense, but the defense deserves a ton of attention, as well. Gage Travis (29 tackles) and Logan Sircy (28 tackles) both average close to 10 stops a game and Sircy shares the team lead with two interceptions. Hunter White also has two picks for a defense that has forced 11 turnovers.
Briggsdale enters the contest having just scored 42 points in a game that the Falcons lost. The 47-42 loss to North Park dropped Briggsdale to 1-2 in the North Division, but they are still in the running for a play-off spot thanks to being ranked 13th in the RPI. Recent series history is against the Falcons, as they’ve dropped the last four meetings to Peetz, allowing at least 63 points in each contest. That includes a 73-25 defeat last year.
A share of the lead in the East Central Division is at stake Friday when #2 Stratton/Liberty (4-0) hosts Arickaree/Woodlin (2-2). The Knighted Eagles have held all but one opponent to eight points or fewer, and have allowed a total of 36 points to date. Last week, Stratton/Liberty downed Idalia 68-8 behind four Tyson Lichty touchdown passes. Seven of his nine completions this season have gone for scores. He also has two interceptions and seven pass break ups on defense.
Arickaree/Woodlin got back in the win column last week with a 61-19 victory over Deer Trail in league play. The Indian-Mustangs had dropped two straight in non-league play heading into that contest. They have been outscored 72-46 in their two losses and they hold a 111-25 edge in their two wins. The series between these two co-op programs is knotted at 2-2. Arickaree/Woodlin won the first two and Stratton/Liberty has taken the last two, including a 70-22 victory last year.
Fresh off its 14-6 victory over rival Kit Carson, #3 Cheyenne Wells (4-0) steps out of Southeast Division play to visit Idalia (1-3) on Friday. The Tigers have given up a total of 26 points this season, with two shutouts in the book. Last week, defense and special teams came up big, once again. Those units came up with four sacks, a fumble recovery, an interception, a blocked punt and a blocked PAT. They also recovered an onside kick following their second score, allowing them to burn valuable time off the clock down the stretch.
Idalia began the season strong, fighting Kit Carson to a six-point contest and then defeating Flagler in a shootout. Since then, the Wolves have been outscored 128-20 by the top two teams in the rankings. After facing the #3 team this week, the Wolves have #4 Otis on the slate next week. They have not fared well against the Knighted Eagles, dropping four out of five, including the last two. Those two have been by a combined score of 131-20.
Fourth-ranked Otis (4-0) picked up a 55-0 victory last week over previously unbeaten Edison (3-1). The Bulldogs spent most of the first quarter on Edison’s end of the field thanks to five Eagle turnovers. Otis scored 49 points in that frame, as one of the turnovers was a pick-six by Tyler Thorn. The top offense scored six touchdowns on just 14 plays. It could be more of the same this week as the Bulldogs host Deer Trail (0-3). The Eagles have been outscored 172-40, with most of their points coming late in games against reserves.
One of the interesting non-conference clashes on the schedule takes place Saturday when #5 Prairie (4-0) faces Primero (2-2) at Hanover. North versus Southwest contests rarely take place during the regular season due to the great distance between schools, but with teams in each division dropping their programs this season, these two found a way to fill their schedules by playing at a neutral site.
Prairie rolled to a 71-7 victory last week at Weldon Valley (0-4) scoring the final 59 points of the game. The Mustangs have outscored their opponents 225-34 this season thanks to an opportunistic defense that has created 16 turnovers. Five of those have been returned for touchdowns, and the team also has a kick return for a score. Defense has recorded 14 sacks so far, with nine different players having at least one. The scoring has been distributed as well, with 10 players finding the end zone. Coltin Hove and Trenton Holzworth each have seven TDs and Patrick Thompson has six.
Primero started the season 2-0, but has since dropped contests by wide margins to #10 Sierra Grande (4-0) and #8 Cotopaxi (4-0). There is no record of the Bulldogs having played Prairie since 2004. Primero faces a trip of around 150 miles, while Prairie will travel close to 180 miles to make the game happen.
After suffering a number of uncharacteristic mistakes in the loss to Cheyenne Wells, #6 Kit Carson (3-1) will look to clean things up as they face Flagler (0-3) in Seibert on Saturday. The Wildcats, who sit eighth in the RPI, had scored 59 and 52 in their last two games heading into the game at Cheyenne Wells. Their lone touchdown in that loss came late in the fourth quarter on a perfectly thrown ball from Cordell Farmer to TJ Conaway.
Flagler had an extra week to get healthy as their scheduled game with Cripple Creek-Victor did not get played last week due to concerns over possible weather issues. The Panthers could regain the services of Kyle Klann this week, as he has been recovering from an offseason injury. As a sophomore last year, he caught 27 passes for 554 yards and seven touchdowns, while also rushing for 149 yards and throwing for 129. His absence has been felt most strongly on defense, where he led the team with 124 tackles and four fumble recoveries a season ago.
With the Southwest looking like a three team race, this week’s game between #8 Cotopaxi and La Veta (3-1) takes on added importance. The Pirates are 3-0 inside the division, while La Veta is tied with Sierra Grande at 2-0. Cotopaxi won the division last year after winning a wild 54-51 contest at home against the Redskins. The Pirates outscored La Veta 28-6 in the fourth quarter to claim the victory.
So far this year, the Pirates have dominated the opposition to the tune of 252-43. Last week’s 59-18 win over Primero was their closest game to date. Kurt Voll threw three touchdown passes in that contest and Owen Voll rushed for 161 yards and four scores.
La Veta rebounded from is disappointing loss to North Park to defeat Antonito (1-2) 64-7 last week. It was the second time this season that the Redskins topped the 60-point plateau. Eric Morgan did a bit of everything in the win, rushing for two scores, throwing for one, and returning both a punt and a fumble for touchdowns. Ty Warren added a pair of TDs on the ground.
Sierra Grande makes its first appearance of the season in the rankings ahead of its league game with Antonito. The Panthers have been having their way with the opposition this season, outscoring them 247-71. They have scored at least 61 points in each of their last three, including a 61-6 victory over Cheraw (0-4) last week. Arthur Rodriguez threw for three scores and the Panthers got 201 yards on the ground from Dakota Aragon in that victory. Sierra Grande had two pick-sixes in the contest and a punt return for a score as well.
Antonito’s lone win this season came on a forfeit from Mountain Valley. The Trojans have only scored 22 points in their two games that have been played. They are in a stretch where they face all three of the top teams in the Southwest in a span of four weeks.
Ninth-ranked Fleming (1-3) gets back to business in the North Division after spending the last two weeks playing two of the top Nebraska programs. The Wildcats, who led 28-14 early last week, lost to Hay Springs, 50-34. They struggled to stop the run, allowing 455 yards, 400 of it to one player. The good news for the Wildcats is that they host a winless Weldon Valley squad on Friday. The Wildcats have won 11 straight against the Warriors.
In what has been a difficult season, the Warriors have been outscored 224-52. Three of their first four opponents are in this week’s rankings, as are the final three on their schedule. That includes Fleming. Coach John Morgan has a lot of younger kids getting experience, as the team has just one senior. That senior, Joe Baessler, has hauled in three touchdown passes from Cole Hall over the last two weeks.
Seventh-ranked North Park (3-1) has a bye this week. In last week’s win over Briggsdale, Blayden Fletcher rushed for 227 yards and a career high five touchdowns. That yardage total nearly matched his career high of 232 set last year. When the Wildcats return to action next week, they will visit Weldon Valley.