Six of the top eight seeds survived the first round of the six-man playoffs last week, with #9 Eads and #11 North Park crashing the party. The quarterfinal round features two regular season rematches, two teams meeting in the postseason for the third time in four years, and a clash between the defending champion and a squad that just earned the first playoff victory in program history. The games are listed in bracket order.
#1 KIT CARSON WILDCATS (9-0) AT #9 EADS EAGLES (6-3) SATURDAY 1PM
Kit Carson rolled to a first round victory over #16 Peetz last Friday, 73-7. The Wildcats led 28-0 at the quarter and 60-7 at the half. Sullivan Farmer completed all four of his pass attempts for 132 yards and four touchdowns, and Cordell Farmer snagged three passes for 118 yards and three scores. Five different players recovered a fumble for the Wildcats, who held the Bulldogs to 129 yards from scrimmage.
Damien Barnes tallied 423 yards of offense for Eads, as the Eagles upset #8 Flagler/Hi-Plains 59-52 in the opening round. Barnes ran for 295 and five TDs, caught two passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns, and hit three of four passes for 23 yards. The biggest completion came on a fourth down late in the contest, that allowed the Eagles to kneel out the clock. Donte Sierra added a pair of scores, one on a kick return and the other on a pass from Cade McDowell, who threw for three touchdowns.
Kit Carson beat Eads 70-6 during the regular season, as the defense held the Eagles to one rushing yard on 18 attempts. The Wildcats limited Barnes to just eight yards on five carries. Kit Carson’s defense also came up with four sacks, four fumble recoveries, and two interceptions in that meeting. Two of the fumbles were returned by Joe Bryan for touchdowns. That was the fifth straight win for Kit Carson over Eads. The last win for the Eagles was in 2014, a 60-14 decision, that is the only previous postseason match-up between the two.
#5 PRAIRIE MUSTANGS (8-2) AT #4 FLEMING WILDCATS (10-0) FRIDAY 7PM
Prairie squared of with #12 Cotopaxi for the second straight week in the opening round, and the Mustangs made it two wins over the Pirates. After winning the regular season finale 20-12, the Mustangs downed the Pirates 40-8 last Saturday. Mitch Dollerschell hit 12 of 17 passes for 159 yards and two scores to pace the Prairie offense, and the defense got an interception from Maverik Mertens and David Speicher.
Defense and special teams took center stage in Fleming’s 72-27 opening round victory over #12 Deer Trail. Blake Feather and Chris Goss each returned an interception for a touchdown, and Brady Kuntz returned two kick-offs for scores and added a blocked punt. Goss added a pair of rushing scores for the Wildcats, who led 38-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Prairie had a 14-6 lead over Fleming during the regular season, but the Wildcats roared back with a 30-0 third quarter on their way to a 60-20 North Division victory. Kade Comstock threw for 132 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Wildcats in that win, and Brandon Williams added 178 yards and a score on the ground. Eric Resendiz had three TD catches for Fleming. Dollerschell tossed a pair of touchdowns for Prairie, but he was also picked off twice. This will be the third time the two have met in the postseason, with Fleming beating the Mustangs in the first round in 1998 and 2011. Both of those games were deciding by 62-6 counts.
#3 CHEYENNE WELLS TIGERS (9-1) AT #11 NORTH PARK WILDCATS (7-3) SATURDAY 1PM
Cade Mitchek and Quade Pelton combined for five touchdowns on just 12 rushing attempts in Cheyenne Wells’ 58-14 win over Mountain Valley in the opening round. The duo hooked up in the passing game, as Pelton tossed a 53-yard TD to Mitchek. Evan Worley added a receiving TD from Kyle Nelson, and a rushing score, too. The Tigers led that contest 58-0 at the half.
North Park earned just the second postseason victory in program history by downing #6 Granada 42-25 in the opening round. The Wildcats used their running game to control the clock, with three different backs going over the century mark in the contest. Destry Schmidt led the way with 156 yards and three scores, followed by Brock Follett with 142 yards and three TDs. Eli Houston added 114 yards. Schmidt also secured a pair of takeaways on defense, as the Wildcats forced three Bobcat turnovers in the game.
Cheyenne Wells took wins over North Park in the 2016 first round (53-0) and 2017 quarterfinals (45-12), in their most recent postseason meetings. The Tigers also beat the Wildcats 68-22 in the opening round of the 8-man playoffs in 2003.
#7 BRANSON/KIM BEARCATS (8-1) AT #2 STRATTON/LIBERTY KNIGHTED EAGLES (9-1) SATURDAY 1PM
Branson/Kim bounced back from its first loss of the season, a 30-29 defeat by Mountain Valley, to pick up the first postseason win in program history. The Bearcats were tied with #10 Briggsdale 14-all at the half, before pulling away with a 22-0 third quarter. They would go on to a 52-20 victory. Kelton Davis threw for 207 yards and four touchdowns. Finn Warner caught two of those scoring passes, totaling 104 yards, to go with 107 yards and two scores in the ground game.
Stratton/Liberty removed all of the drama from its opening round game with #15 Walsh very early. The Knighted Eagles led 30-0 after one quarter and Charlie Clapper’s second rushing touchdown of the half put the running clock into play on the final snap of the first half, with the Knighted Eagles leading 52-0. They would go on to win 60-14. Trevor Frank and Jaret Lichty each joined Clapper with a pair of rushing scores.
On top of winning the title last season, Stratton/Liberty finished runner-up in 2017. The Knighted Eagles were knocked out of the 2016 postseason in the semifinals by Cheyenne Wells, and they won it all as a program in 2013.