League overview: The 8-Man Mountain League remains mostly intact with one small change. Dolores has been added as the sixth team which takes away a non-league contest from everyone. Manco is the defending league champion and was also the state runner-up last season. The top end of the league should remain competitive as Dove Creek and Sanford have both seen success the last few seasons. Both those teams, along with Mancos, were the three teams from this league to advance to the 8-Man state tournament. Dove Creek advanced to the quarterfinals while Sanford and Mancos faced off in the semifinals. Sargent will look to improve on its sub-.500 year while Norwood is looking to bounce back from major struggles. Dolores will field a team for the first time since the fall of 2020.



Head coach: Joseph Gonzalez

2021 Record: N/A

Returning All-State Players: None

“Buying into a new program” is a big key for the Bears in 2022. After not playing a varsity schedule in 2021, they join the Mountain League with hopes of planting the seeds of a successful program. Several players that will be key to the growth of this team, both now and for the future, include Ethen Robson, Dillion Rantz, Braden Boyd and Ty Gaddis. Before diving into a non-league schedule that includes Soroco and Rangely, the Bears open the season on the road against Monticello (Utah) on Aug. 26.


Dove Creek

Head coach: Shane Baughman

2021 Record: 7-3 (3-1 Mountain League)

Returning All-State Players: Tyson Beanland (Second Team), Kade Hankins (Honorable Mention)

The Bulldogs lost out on the league championship by six points last year and would love to come away with the crown in 2022. After losing to Mancos on Oct. 1 they won their final two regular season games handedly, beat Crowley County 50-0 in the first round of the state tournament and then lost to Holly to halt their postseason run. The good news for Dove Creek is that there is considerable talent returning on both sides of the ball. Tyson Beanland earned second-team All-State honors last year after recording a team-high seven sacks. He was third on the team with 74 total tackles and returning senior Quaden Huffaker was tops in that category with 91. On offense, Kade Hankins recorded nearly 800 yards from scrimmage and scored nine total touchdowns. There are certainly some key senior losses, but the Bulldogs definitely have enough production and experience back from last year’s team to once again make a playoff push in 2022.



Head coach: Josh Gardner

2021 Record: 10-1 (3-0 Mountain League)

Returning All-State Players: Lane Greenlee, Ayden Mathews (Honorable Mention)

Losing eight starters is not ideal when trying to repeat the success of a previous season. The good news is that the Bluejays have a good amount of experienced players returning and judging from their 2021 numbers, are ready to embrace bigger roles on the team. Kail Wayman and Ayden Mathews combined to rush for over 800 yards and 13 touchdowns and they could make for a dynamic rushing attack this fall. Wayman was also the team’s leading receiver, totaling 503 yards and seven scores. Mathews was a big factor on defense as he led the team with 101 tackles. Lane Greenlee earned All-State honorable mention status after recording 30 tackles, three sacks and an interception. Mancos has a big game on its schedule Sept. 17 when it gets a state championship rematch against Haxtun.



Head coach: John Cross

2021 Record: 0-4 (0-2 Mountain League)

Returning All-State Players: None

It was a tough start to the 2021 season for the Mavericks as they lost to Plateau Valley 50-21. They never really found any footing and after a forfeit loss to Sargent on Oct. 4, shut down for the remainder of the season. Joseph Casillas was one of the more productive players last year as he totaled 80 all-purpose yards and led the team with 24 tackles. If Norwood can find some momentum early in the season, getting a couple of wins could serve as a major step forward for the program.



Head coach: Joe Cary

2021 Record: 7-5 (1-2 Mountain League)

Returning All-State Players: McCray Larsen (Honorable Mention)

It was just two seasons ago that Sanford advanced to the 8-Man championship game. Like many before, the team couldn’t overcome the juggernaut that was Sedgwick County. Last year wasn’t the follow-up season the newly branded Mustangs were hoping for. This season could look a bit like a rebuilding effort as Kelton Gartrell and Josh Holman depart after rushing for over 1,000 yards and 20 touchdowns each. Cash Caldon could move into the quarterback spot as he attempted six passes as a sophomore last year. If he gets the job, he’ll have a good receiving target back in McCray Larsen who totaled 379 yards and four touchdowns last year. Larsen and Caldon should keep the defense playing at the same level as the two combined to record over 300 tackles in 2021. Larsen led the team with six sacks and Caldon picked off two passes. Gauge Lewis is back for his senior year and led the Mustangs with three inteceptions.



Head coach: Cameron King

2021 Record: 3-5 (1-3 Mountain League)

Returning All-State Players: None

The Famers got to battle to get a close win over Springfield and then were on the winning side of a blowout against South Park. In between were a few losses, giving them a season filled with mixed results. A big reason for that was an overwhelmingly young roster. Tyler Chapman led the team with 301 rushing yards and three touchdowns in five games and he was just a freshman. Conner Holmes was one of the few upperclassmen to receive significant snaps and he ended up leading the team in tackles (48). The roster in 2022 will still be relatively young, but the experience the team got last year should help the Farmers find another win or two on the schedule this season.