The 8-man football bracket played out about how everyone expected it would. There were a couple of upsets in the first round, but the teams that emerged from the quarterfinals were all seeded in the top four of the field.

In theory that should mean the semifinal games should be competitive and the two teams that advance to next week’s state championship game at CSU-Pueblo should be the most deserving.

Both games kick at 1 p.m. on Saturday which means that the state title showdown should be settled by the late afternoon.


(4) Simla at (1) Haxtun

Both teams head into this game with undefeated records, a major accomplishment considering the depth of talented teams that have emerged in the classification. From the start of the season, Haxtun has shown why it was the state champion a year ago and why it has no desire to relinquish that title in 2022. In their first two playoff games, the Bulldogs outscored their opponents 110-22 and they likely have no intention of easing up on that pace. In last week’s win over Sanford, Ryland Wolff completed 9 of 10 passes for 205 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 113 yards and two scores which wasn’t even the top rushing performance of the day. Michael Gerk rushed for 132 yards and matched Wolff’s two touchdowns.

The Cubs held off a resilient Holly team that scored an upset over Akron in the first round. They trailed at halftime but outscored the Wildcats 19-8 in the second half to get the win. Brayden Glover paced the offense for Simla by rushing for 155 yards on 20 carries. He found the end zone once while TJ Eurich scored two rushing touchdowns. Eurich also recovered a fumble on defense which accounted for half of the Cubs’ forced turnovers. Brent Bowker’s interception was the other.

(3) Mancos at (2) Dove Creek

Back on Oct. 7, Dove Creek got a 34-26 win over Mancos and will try to repeat that performance to earn the right to play for a state title. In that game, Kade Hankins dominated the ground game by rushing for 164 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw for 160 yards and a score but it was his effort on the ground that was responsible for the win. That was also the case in last week’s win over Merino in the quarterfinals. Hankin rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns and he also threw for a touchdown. In a close game, Kendall Gardner came up big on the defensive side of the ball as he recorded two sacks and recovered two fumbles.

In the loss to the Bulldogs, Ayden Mathews threw for 115 yards and a touchdown while Levi Martin ran for 102 yards and a score. The offense was balanced but given the result it’ll be interesting to see if Mancos tries to lean more one way or the other between the passing and running game. Last week, Mancos jumped out to an 18-6 lead at halftime and cruised in the second half to get the win over Lyons and advance to the semifinals.