All six divisions have crowned a champion, but there are still plenty of important games to be played in the final two weeks of the regular season. As all six division champions are currently inside the top 16 of the RPI, the last two weeks will see fierce competition for the remaining postseason spots.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY HEIDI KRISE / OT SPORTSCHECK
Genoa-Hugo (5-1, 9th RPI) locked up the division a couple weeks ago, and Hanover (5-3, 13th RPI) looks to have done enough to secure a spot in the playoffs, but could use at least one more win to feel comfortable. Genoa-Hugo dropped a tough match-up with #1 Cheyenne Wells (8-0, 1st RPI) 56-8 last week in non-league action, so the tenth-ranked Pirates will be looking to bounce back on Friday when they host #8 Cheraw (5-3, 8th RPI) in what could be a first round preview.
The Pirates were limited to just 127 yards of offense last week, only 37 of it on the ground, as they suffered their first loss of the season. Jack Kissel provided a highlight on defense, getting the Pirates on the scoreboard with a safety on the first play of the third quarter, and Wyatt Miller returned a later kick-off for the lone Genoa-Hugo touchdown of the afternoon
Cheraw got back into the win column with last week’s 70-20 victory on the road at Cotopaxi (2-5, 23rd RPI). The Wolverines led 41-0 after one quarter, and 56-7 at the half. Cade Phillips hit on nine of 13 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns, two to Wade Goodrich, who also scored twice on the ground. Daniel Escareno also scored four times, including twice on kick returns.
Hanover rolled to its third straight win, as the Hornets handled Walsh (2-6, 20th RPI) 56-8 last week. The Hornets led 20-0 after one and 40-8 at the half, as David Brown ran for 171 yards and six touchdowns in the contest. Devin Johnson completed six of nine passes for 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns, both to Blake Sebastian.
It’s been three weeks since Deer Trail (3-2, 21st RPI) has been on the field, as the Eagles missed the last two weeks due to COVID concerns. The last time they were in action, the Eagles claimed a 66-24 win over Primero (0-4, 30th RPI). Deer Trail blew that contest open with a 38-0 second quarter. Dayne Woodis ran for one score, caught two, and threw another in the victory. The senior also had one of the three kick return TDs by the Eagles in that contest.
Deer Trail is 2-1 against Hanover, with wins in 2018 (54-20) and 2019 (47-28). The teams did not play last season.
Second-ranked Stratton (6-1, 3rd RPI) is the champion of the East Central, as the Eagles have already wrapped up league play. They will host Briggsdale (6-2, 12th RPI) on Friday, riding a five-game winning streak. The most recent was a 76-0 shutout of Peetz (3-5, 19th RPI) last week. The defense held Peetz to just 72 yards of offense in that contest. It was Stratton’s second straight shutout of the season.
Briggsdale sits third in the North division, and the Falcons snapped a two-game slide with last week’s 53-31 win over North Park (4-4, 17th RPI). The Falcons came up with three takeaways, to help offset allowing more than 200 passing yards in the game.
Idalia (5-2, 6th RPI) also has a tough non-league contest this week, as the Wolves host North division champion, Fleming (7-1, 4th RPI) on Friday. The Wolves are tied with Arickaree/Woodlin (4-3, 7th RPI) for second in the division, and they meet in the regular season finale. Idalia, ranked fifth, rolled to a 58-6 win at Kiowa (0-7, 27th RPI) last week, its second straight win.
Fourth-ranked Fleming claimed the North crown with a wild 52-51 victory over #7 Prairie (5-3, 10th RPI) last week. The Wildcats had a 44-37 lead going to the fourth, but found itself trailing 51-44 late. They got a touchdown, followed by the PAT kick from Kenny Bandy to go back on top. Nolan Japp, who ran for more than 200 yards in the game, deflected Prairie’s final pass to preserve the victory.
Fleming has won six straight against Idalia, including a 65-12 victory two years ago. The head coaches, Toby Kechter of Idalia and John King from Fleming, have met in the last two state title games. King’s Wildcats won both.
Arickaree/Woodlin had its two-game winning streak snapped by #6 Sierra Grande (6-0, 5th RPI) last week, as the Indian-Mustangs were handed a 42-26 defeat. They dug a 22-0 first quarter hole and could never get all the way back. Samuel Koolstra ran for 123 yards with a touchdown, and also caught a short TD pass for Arickaree/Woodlin, while Logan Wright tossed a TD and also ran for one in the losing effort. The Indian-Mustangs, who are all but locked into a postseason berth, will host Peetz on Friday in non-league play.
Hi-Plains (3-3, 15th RPI) currently sits as the fourth team from the division in the playoffs. The Patriots jumped into the top 16 of the RPI with last week’s 58-7 league win over Otis (3-5, 18th RPI). Logan Cordell ran for a game-high 127 yards and two scores, while Cody Banks added 97 yards and two scores of his own to power the Patriots to the victory. Konner Rowden-Stum tallied two touchdowns of his own, one on a reception and the other on a fumble return.
The Patriots will travel to La Veta (2-6, 26th RPI) on Friday for a non-league tilt.
Otis still has hopes of making the postseason, but the Bulldogs will most likely need to win out. They were a bit shorthanded last week, with brothers Carter and Peyton Wells missing the game due to a family funeral. Tayte Smith got the lone TD for the Bulldogs, as the freshman ran for 96 yards and the touchdown. The Bulldogs host Pawnee (0-6, 29th RPI) on Saturday, and will visit Prairie next Thursday.
Pawnee nearly upset Weldon Valley (2-6, 24th RPI) last week, eventually falling short by a 32-30 count. The Coyotes have been outscored 363-44, all in league contests.
While Fleming has secured the automatic bid into the postseason bracket as the division champion, and barring a late season collapse, Prairie looks to be safely in the field, other teams in the North still have work to do. Briggsdale is currently in the bracket, and with games against Stratton and Hanover to close out, even two losses to close out may not be enough to knock the Falcons out. However, at least a split of those two games and they should be the third team from the division in the field.
North Park isn’t too far out of the final spot in the field, but the Wildcats only have Friday’s non-league contest with Cotopaxi left on their schedule. They need a win, and some help, to snag that final playoff spot. Hunter Sessions, who completed 22 of 28 passes for 214 yards and two scores against Briggsdale last week, gives the offense an added dimension. Historically, the Wildcats rely on a strong running game, and while that’s still very much part of their DNA, having the passing option makes them harder to prepare for.
Cotopaxi had won two straight before last week’s lopsided loss to Cheraw. The first was a forfeit over Cripple Creek-Victor, who has ended its season. That was followed by a 31-28 victory at La Veta two weeks ago.
Ninth-ranked Branson/Kim (6-1, 11th RPI) is the division champion thanks to wins over Primero and Miami-Yoder (1-4, 25th RPI) in league play. The Bearcats were handed their first loss of the year last week at Granada (6-1, 2nd RPI), 72-22, and they’ll have to wait until next Saturday to get that bad taste out of their mouths as this week’s opponent, Flagler, had to cancel due to a lack of healthy players.
The Bearcats will be the lone representative from the South Central in the postseason.
Top-ranked Cheyenne Wells is the champion of the division, and the Tigers will be joined by #3 Granada and Cheraw. Eads (2-5, 16th RPI) could make it four teams from the division, if the Eagles are able to hold onto the final playoff spot.
Cheyenne Wells got three rushing touchdowns from Cade Mitchek and two total touchdowns from Rogelio Rangel in last week’s win over Genoa-Hugo. Jesse Harlow was a perfect seven-for-seven on PAT kicks, and Evan Worley sparked the defensive effort with three sacks, pushing his season total to 15. The Tigers will face Prairie on Friday, at Woodlin High School. Cheyenne Wells claimed a 43-22 win over the Mustangs in the opening round of last year’s playoffs.
Prairie was led last week on offense by Claytin Hove, who ran for 206 yards and five touchdowns, and Andy Long, who completed 13 of 17 passes for 185 yards and a TD. Defensively, Carter Jaeger (12) and Parker Jaeger (10) combined for 22 tackles. Long added a sack, a fumble recovery, and a pick.
Granada’s Dominic Coleman had a huge night in the Bobcats’ homecoming win over Branson/Kim. The senior QB hit 14 of 19 passes for 338 yards and six touchdowns, and added another rushing TD. John Hainer hauled in five passes for 161 yards and three scores, while adding two rushing touchdowns, and Maddox Coleman snagged five receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bobcats are off this week as their game with Kit Carson has been cancelled. It will be registered as a no-contest.
Eads missed last week because of COVID issues, but returns to action on Friday at Mountain Valley (5-2, 14th RPI). The last time the Eagles were on the field, they were handed a 92-60 defeat by Hanover. They gave up four non-offensive touchdowns in that loss, including three on pick-sixes.
Sierra Grande wrapped up the division title last month, and had three weeks off before last week’s win over Arickaree/Woodlin. Isiah Chairez threw for 115 yards and a TD, and ran for 112 yards with another TD in that victory. Angelo Lucero added three rushing touchdowns, and the junior was on the receiving end of another score. The Panthers will visit Primero on Friday in non-league play, before finishing the regular season at Branson/Kim next Saturday.
Mountain Valley is aiming for another postseason appearance and the Indians need to beat Eads on Friday to make that happen. The Indians pulled away from Primero last week with a 40-8 second quarter. They went on to claim a 62-18 victory. Tristan Martinez touched the ball eight times on offense and scored six times. The senior tallied 247 yards and five touchdowns on five carries, and added a TD and 44 yards on three receptions. He contributed another score on defense with a scoop-and-score. Riley Heater completed 14 of 16 passes for 176 yards and two scores.