The calendar turns to October this weekend, making this the final month of the regular season. One division could see its leader lock up the crown without even taking the field this week, while another division will see a front-runner emerge as the two leaders in the East Central square off for conference supremacy.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY OT SPORTSCHECK
There will be a lot of drama in that East Central this week, with two important contests on the slate. First, #2 Stratton (3-1) will be hosting #6 Idalia (3-1) on Friday, with the winner becoming the favorite to win the division. Both teams are virtual locks to make the postseason bracket, as they enter the game sitting third and fourth in the RPI, respectively. But, a division championship brings with it a guaranteed spot, and most likely a first round home game.
Toby Kechter, who coached the Stratton/Liberty co-op for its entirety, returns to Stratton leading Idalia. The Wolves ran over Hi-Plains (1-3) 54-14 last weekend and they’ve outscored their opponents 199-96 this season. They held the Patriots to three of 11 passing in the game last week, and only allowed 39 in that part of the Hi-Plains attack. Kye Towns and Yahir Enriquez provide a 1-2 punch in the offensive backfield, with Towns bringing the power and Enriquez having speed to burn.
Stratton rolled Arickaree/Woodlin (2-2) 73-6 last week, as the Eagles put together a 52-0 blitz over the final three quarters. They’ve outscored their opponents 227-105, 130-24 in their two-game winning streak. They held Arickaree/Woodlin to 64 rushing yards and created two turnovers in last week’s win. Both Alex Cruz and Charlie Clapper are capable of being the workhorse back, and Cyler Notter brings the home run element whenever he touches the ball.
The other key contest in that division has Arickaree/Woodlin visiting Otis (2-3) on Friday night. The teams are tied for third in the division, and Arickaree/Woodlin has a slight edge over the Bulldogs in the RPI, where they sit 12th. Otis is 14th. They would likely switch places with an Otis victory. The top 16 in that metric make the postseason, as all six division leaders currently sit inside that framework.
A/W’s Logan Wright has 572 rushing yards this season, but the junior has been held to a total of 95 in the Indian-Mustangs’ two losses. He’s thrown for 251 yards. Samuel Koolstra’s caught many of those, as he’s hauled in seven passes for 114 yards and two scores. Koolstra is the team’s second leading rusher with 227 yards, and the senior also leads the team with 51 tackles. Wright is second with 39, and Hayden Page is next with 35.
Otis got a huge 76-14 win over Deer Trail (2-2) last week, as the Bulldogs scored 40 first quarter points, and led 62-14 at the half. Tayte Smith ran for 137 yards and five touchdowns on just nine carries, and Carter Wells hit on five of seven passes for 137 yards and a TD. Smith and Peyton Wells each picked off a pass, with Wells taking his to the house. Charlie Kendrick scored on a kick return, and also converted eight of 10 PAT kicks.
Arickaree/Woodlin has won five of the last seven meetings with Otis, including a 60-12 victory last season. Otis won the previous year, 58-20. The winning side has scored at least 53 points in each of those last seven contests.
Eighth-ranked Sierra Grande (5-0) has a bye this week after blasting Cotopaxi (0-4) 56-0 last week. Isiah Chairez threw for 165 yards and two touchdowns on five of seven passing, and also ran for 76 yards and three more scores on just four carries in that win. Defensively, Tyler Kester contributed to the scoring with a pick-six. Even though the Panthers are off this week, they could wrap up the South West division if La Veta (1-4) were to upset Mountain Valley (3-2) at home on Saturday. The Panthers already own a win over both second place squads.
Mountain Valley has not played since dropping a 33-0 decision to Sierra Grande two weeks ago, as they received a forfeit from Cripple Creek-Victor last week. Ryan Heater has thrown for 478 yards and five touchdowns this season, but the sophomore has also been intercepted eight times. Tristan Martinez is the Indians’ leading rusher with 513 yards and six touchdowns, and receiver, with 14 catches for 240 yards and a TD. Kodiak Reigel averages close to 22 yards per catch. Reigel is second on the squad with 43 tackles, two behind leader Jacob Martinez.
La Veta put together a solid effort on the road last week at Weldon Valley (1-4), but the Redhawks came up short, 45-34. Jessy Montunnas threw for 168 yards and four touchdowns, two to Augustus Andreatta, who also scored a rushing TD. The offense turned it over two on interceptions, but the defense came up with four fumble recoveries, two by Tobin Parker.
The Redhawks saw their three-game winning streak in the series snapped in last year’s 74-14 victory by Mountain Valley. Tristan Martinez had a game-high 104 rushing yards with two touchdowns, and Jacob Martinez added 78 yards and two more scores for the Indians. The two teams did not play in 2018 or 2019.
There are high stakes across the North division this week, as co-leaders Briggsdale (5-0) visits #5 Prairie (4-1) on Friday, and Peetz (2-3) travels to North Park (2-3) on Saturday. The ninth-ranked Falcons sit one spot ahead of Prairie in the RPI, as the two teams enter play eighth and ninth, respectively. Both teams still have to face #4 Fleming (4-1) in the coming weeks. Peetz if 15th in that metric, with North Park 18th.
Briggsdale raced past Peetz 63-13, with Braden Krise having a huge first half. The senior QB completed six of seven passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 95 yards and another score on just four carries, all in the first two quarters of action.
Since suffering a loss to Stratton in the season-opener, Prairie has now won four straight after blasting Pawnee 77-0 last week. The Mustangs only ran 19 plays in the game, with six going for scores. The defense added two safeties and a pick-six. Maverick Mertens was the only Mustang to score more than once, as he returned a punt and a kick-off for a score, to go with a rushing TD.
When the two contenders hook up, they put on some exciting contests. Prairie came from behind in the closing seconds to score a 35-32 victory last season, giving the Mustangs a four-game winning streak in the series. Overall, Prairie owns a 9-7 edge over the Falcons in the last 16 meetings.
Peetz looks to rebound from consecutive defeats when it makes the trip to Walden on Saturday. The Bulldogs haven’t really been able to get the running game going, with an average of just under 120 yards a game in that phase of the offense. That puts more on the arm of Chance Segelke, who has thrown for six touchdowns and one interception this season. Mike Kissell is the leading runner with 166 yards and three scores, and receiver, with nine catches for 89 yards and five touchdowns. The senior also has three interceptions and two fumble recoveries on defense.
North Park usually runs the ball very well, but the Wildcats weren’t able to get anything going in last week’s 72-8 loss to Fleming. They were held to 96 yards on the ground and 178 total in the contest, that was tied at 8-all heading into the second quarter. Ale Nugent accounted for the lone North Park TD in the game, and he finished with a team-high 40 yards rushing.
Peetz holds a narrow 5-4 edge against the Wildcats, but North Park has won two straight. Last year’s 46-27 win by North Park snapped a streak of seven straight games in the series in which the winning team scored at least 60 points.
Top-ranked Cheyenne Wells (5-0) faced a short-handed Eads (2-3) squad last week and the Tigers put up an 84-6 victory. They scored on seven of 12 offensive plays in the game, and added four non-offensive touchdowns to boot. Cade Mitchek scored twice on running plays and added a pick-six, and Ty Scheler added a kick return score to a rushing TD, to be the only other Tiger to reach paydirt more than once. They’ll try to stay unbeaten when they visit Walsh (2-3) in South East league play on Saturday.
Walsh picked up its first league win by beating Kit Carson (0-4) 46-28 last week. The Eagles trailed 12-0 after one quarter, but started to get momentum with a 20-point second quarter. They outscored the Wildcats 26-8 after the break. Leyton Jones had a monster night, running for 217 yards and four scores, and throwing for 177 yards and two more touchdowns. He also added a punt return for a TD and an interception on defense.
Cheyenne Wells has won five straight games against Walsh, but the two did not play last season. The Tigers won the 2019 meeting 37-18, with Mitchek scoring as a runner and receiver. He also intercepted a pass and blocked a kick in that victory.
Genoa-Hugo (4-0) found itself in a shootout with Hanover (2-3) last weekend. At the half, the Pirates were trailing 44-43. They came out in the second half and ran away with a 75-56 win over the Hornets to move within one win of clinching the Central division title. Trey Smith completed 13 of 22 passes for 192 yards and five touchdowns, three to Colby Simmons, who also ran for three scores. Simmons was one of two Pirate runners to top the century mark, as his 111 yards trailed Wyatt Miller’s 157. Genoa-Hugo’s defense allowed 561 yards of offense to Hanover. David Brown ran for 170, and Devin Johnson threw for 186.
The Pirates can lock up the division with a win at Deer Trail next Thursday, but they are out of conference this Friday when they host Miami-Yoder (1-2). The Buffs have not played since dropping a 60-6 contest to Deer Trail two weeks ago. They’ve been outscored 142-89 this season.
Branson/Kim (5-0) travels to Miami-Yoder next Friday and can claim the South Central championship with a win. The Bearcats earned a 75-13 league win over Primero (0-2) last week, topping 70 points for the third straight game. Brody Doherty hit nine of 11 passes for 149 yards and four touchdowns, and Owen Doherty was three for three, with two touchdowns. Cade Smith caught three touchdowns. The Bearcats are off this week.