8MAN FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW

8Man State Championship Preview
The Hoehne Farmers are back in the state finals for the first time since 2012. They go on the road Saturday to challenge three-time defending state champion Sedgwick County. PHOTO PROVIDED BY HOEHNE SCHOOLS

Back in mid-August, the preseason rankings had Sedgwick County (10-1) atop the poll and Hoehne (11-
1) sitting at #4. They would open the season against each other two weeks later, with the Cougars
claiming a 40-8 victory. Saturday, they close out the season going head-to-head for the 8-man state title.

The Cougars scored the first 40 points in their earlier match-up with Hoehne, getting the mercy clock rolling by the halftime break. Layne Green rushed for two scores and caught another, in helping the three-time champs record the big victory. Terrance Heath aided the defensive effort with a fumble recovery and a pick-six.

Hoehne was held to 127 yards in the loss, 66 on the legs of Trystan Moltrer, who scored the only touchdown for the Farmers in the contest. Frederico Orozco, who led the defense with 13 tackles, caught the two-point conversion pass. It was the only pass the Farmers would complete on the day.

The Farmers went on a tear after the loss, scoring at least 44 points in every game until receiving a forfeit victory from McClave at the end of the regular season. Hoehne won the Ark Valley title with a perfect 6-0 mark in league play. Their road through the postseason included wins over Dayspring Christian (50-24),  Rangely (36-22) and Pikes Peak Christian (50-8).

As has historically been the case, Hoehne lets its ground game do the heavy lifting. The Farmers have rushed the ball 390 times for more than 3300 yards, averaging better than 278 yards per game. Moltrer leads the way with 1342 yards and 21 touchdowns. Kyle Rowe is nearing a one thousand yard season of his own, entering the final game with 917 to go with 16 touchdowns. Weston Hill rounds out the backfield with 631 yards rushing and 849 yards through the air.

Only four Farmers have caught passes on the season, with Moltrer snagging 23 for 429 yards and four touchdowns. Orozco is next on the squad with 10 receptions and 341 yards, while leading the team with five scoring catches. No one else has more than four receptions.

Orozco will reach triple digit tackles with his first stop of the game on Saturday, as the senior enters with a team-leading 99. Four of those have been sacks. Daniel Hudson, who leads the Farmers with eight sacks and four fumble recoveries, is second in tackles with 88. Shane Montoya (76), Moltrer (74), and Rowe (72) give Hoehne three more defenders with at least 70 tackles.

After earning the season-opening victory, the Cougars dominated their next three opponents by a combined tally of 162-12. They would enter the regular season finale against Merino unbeaten, but they suffered their first loss to an in-state opponent since 2014, 27-24. The Cougars would avenge that loss in last week’s semifinals, shutting out the Rams 32-0. Their first two playoff games saw the Cougars down Simla (46-6) and Caliche (28-16).

Sedgwick County’s offense features a three-headed monster in the backfield. Green leads the attack with 1128 yards and 22 touchdowns, averaging 7.5 yards per carry. Beau Parker has added 834 yards and nine scores, while quarterback Ethan Walter has gained 736 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Walter also averages 7.5 yards per carry.

Walter has thrown for an additional 581 yards with eight TD and three interceptions. His top targets are Heath (15/194/1) and Green (13/249/6). Dalton Carlson only has five receptions, but the junior is averaging 22 yards per catch.

Carlson checks in as the leading tackler for the Cougars with 74. Parker is second with 67 and Green enters the contest with 54. Walter (49) and Eric Alcala (48) round out the top five. Heath ads the unit with three sacks and he’s returned both of his interceptions for touchdowns. Jaciel Villalobos tops the defense with five interceptions and Braden Blochowitz has a team-high four fumble recoveries.

This will be the third playoff meeting between the two programs, all in the last four years. Sedgwick County picked up a 52-21 victory in the 2015 quarterfinals and a 27-8 semifinal win the following season.   The Cougars are gunning for their fourth consecutive championship and Hoehne is trying to claim it’s third.  The Farmers earned the crown in 2010 and 2012.  They’re the only program outside the Plains conference to win a championship since 2007.

The game will be played in Julesburg with kickoff set for 1:00pm.

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Kerry Sherman
About Kerry Sherman 90 Articles
Kerry Sherman is a lifelong resident of eastern Colorado. He started covering high school sports in 1991, focusing on the smaller classifications. He has also coached boys basketball at Woodlin, Otis & Weldon Valley. In his spare time, Kerry substitute teaches at area schools. He and his wife, Colleen, live on the family farm near Anton, along with their three Corgi mutts, Selene, Caesar & Helios.

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