Close games were the norm in the quarterfinals of the six-man playoffs. Three of the four games were decided by 12 points or less, and the fourth was a mercy clock contest. Three of the top four seeds are still alive, with the lowest remaining seed being #7 Kit Carson.
Cheyenne Wells won the lone blowout of the quarterfinal round, downing #5 North Park 45-12. The Tigers led 45-0 before the third quarter was over. Wyatt Fishler led the way with 119 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, while also tossing a pair of TDs to Beau Roth. Quade Pelton was one of the defensive standouts, recording 20 tackles, 15 of them solo. He also tallied four sacks, two forced fumbles and one 19-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery. Roth and Jade Cozart each added fumble recoveries for the Tigers.
Stratton/Liberty had a much tougher time with #9 Otis than it did during the regular season. After routing the Bulldogs 63-6 late in the regular season, the Knighted Eagles found themselves trailing 18-8 at halftime last week. The Bulldogs would continue to lead through the third quarter, taking a 26-24 advantage into the final frame. Stratton/Liberty rallied with two scores in that period to claim the 40-32 victory. Jacob McCormick ran for 178 yards and two scores on 30 carries, and Eltan Yarger added 121 yards and three scores on eight attempts. Both teams scored five touchdowns, but the Knighted Eagles converted all five of their PAT kicks, compared to just two of five for Otis.
The Knighted Eagles are staring at another regular season rematch this week. Stratton/Liberty went to Cheyenne Wells on Oct. 7 and handed the Tigers their only loss of the campaign, 53-6. McCormick rushed for 212 yards and five touchdowns in that contest, but it was the Knighted Eagle defense that made the biggest statement. They held the Tigers to -4 yards on the ground, recording six sacks and three interceptions. Stratton/Liberty also blocked two punts and a PAT kick.
Kit Carson turned early miscues by #2 Prairie into an early 16-0 lead in their quarterfinal meeting. The Wildcats never surrendered the lead, moving on with a 32-26 upset over the previously unbeaten Mustangs. Jayden McCombs-Farmer gained 164 yards in the rushing game and scored twice for the Wildcats, but it was his contributions on defense that stood the tallest. The 5’5”, 132 pound sophomore recovered a pair of fumbles, returning one for a score.
For the second time in a month, Peetz fought off a feisty #11 Fleming squad, earning a 40-28 victory over the young Wildcats. During the regular season, the Bulldogs claimed a 39-26 road win over Fleming. This time around, they would lead 24-14 heading into the fourth quarter, where the teams combined for 30 points. While the Peetz offense was held in check, special teams made one of the biggest plays of the day. Jake Curlee, who also intercepted a pass, registered a 65-yards kick return for a touchdown, swinging momentum for the Bulldogs. Helmuth Wenneker led the team with 81 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
It’s been quite a while since these two programs have met on the field. The last meeting was in the 2007 playoffs, a game won by Peetz 56-29. That was the year after current Kit Carson coaches Curt Connelley and Andrew Maxcy graduated. If Kit Carson wins this weekend, the Wildcats will host the championship game. Peetz would host a championship contest against Cheyenne Wells, but the Bulldogs would travel to Stratton for a title game clash with the Knighted Eagles.