Wins over ranked opponents last week vaulted Fowler and Caliche into the top-10 for the first time this season. They join a poll that is unchanged in the top three spots, with Sedgwick County, Hoehne and Dayspring Christian holding a lock on those slots. Hoehne is part of the only contest this week that has ranked opponents squaring off, as the Farmers host #6 Holly on Friday.
Hoehne enters the week battle tested. The Farmers have already fought off preseason #4 Sargent (30-27) in week one and a very game Springfield squad (42-26) in week two. Turnovers played a key role in last week’s win over the Longhorns, as the Farmer defense came up with four takeaways. Their offense did not have a turnover in the contest.
The Farmers nearly had four backs tally 100 yards on the ground, as they amassed 466 as a team. Riley Hudson led the way with 137 yards and three scores on eight attempts. Trystan Moltrer added 120 yards and one touchdown, and Kyle Rowe recorded 113 yards and a touchdown. Jacob Yates finished with 96 yards and a touchdown, as well. Moltrer was on the receiving end of all five Yates completions, gaining 45 yards. Conner Leonard and Beau Dukes each rushed for 113 yards for the Longhorns.
Holly hasn’t faced quite the same level of competition, but the Wildcats have handled the opposition in a fitting manner. The Wildcats downed Deerfield (KS) 57-6 in week one and Swink 42-14 last week. In the road victory over the Lions last week, Holly jumped out to a 36-0 halftime lead. The aerial attack led the way, with Kobe Davis completing six of nine passes for 134 yards and two scores. Wyatt Cook and William Kennedy combined to hit seven of 10 attempts for 76 yards and another touchdown. Ten different players ran the ball in the contest, with no one having more than seven carries or 39 yards.
The Wildcats will be looking to buck the recent trend in the match-up with Hoehne, as the Farmers have won the last six meetings by a combined score of 363-71. Holly led last year’s meeting 14-6 after one quarter, but was outscored 30-0 in the second. Hoehne won the contest, 52-20. Yates rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns and threw for another score in leading the Farmers. The Hoehne defense picked off Davis three times in that game.
Top-ranked Sedgwick County starts a three-game road stretch by visiting Perkins County, NE on Friday. The Plainsmen are the last team to defeat the Cougars, as they took a 34-28 decision last year. Due to a forfeit by their opponent in zero week and a scheduled bye last week, this is only Sedgwick County’s second game of the year. Two weeks ago, the Cougars downed Yuma in an 11-man contest.
Perkins County is 3-0 and ranked #5 in Nebraska’s Class D-1. The Plainsmen will test the Sedgwick County run defense, as they rush for 357 yards a game. They feature four backs who average better than 80 yards a contest. Cougar linebackers Tyce Marquez and Layne Green are expected to be busy.
The road trip continues for #3 Dayspring Christian, who has travelled to Akron and Kiowa (neutral site with Granada). Friday night finds the Eagles deep in Southeastern Colorado, as they visit Springfield. Last week’s game with Granada was over early, with DCA scoring 33 first quarter points. The Eagles would lead 46-0 at the half and go on to win 59-0. The workload was shared, as five different ball carriers rushed for between 54 and 74 yards. Christian Still was perfect on his five passing attempts, throwing for 110 yards and three scores. The defense held the Bobcats to just 49 yards of total offense.
Dukes has been solid at quarterback for Springfield, leading the Longhorns with 391 yards passing and 299 yards on the ground. The junior has thrown for five touchdowns, three to Enrique Gutierrez, and rushed for three more, but ball security has been a bit of an issue, with six total turnovers.
Dayspring Christian has won the last five meetings with the Longhorns, including a 63-0 rout last year. Jimmy Fargo had 144 receiving yards for the Eagles in that victory.
After a week one victory over Soroco (51-26), #5 Norwood is finally back in action this week. The Mavericks lost the turnover battle in that season opening victory thanks to a balanced offensive attack. Will Gabriel passed for 247 yards and three touchdowns, and added another 113 yards and three scores on the ground. Hunter Brier tallied 109 yards rushing, helping the team accumulate 231 in that phase of the game.
The Mavs will visit Sanford (0-3) on Friday, looking to make it five straight wins over the Indians. Norwood led 44-0 through three quarters in what would end up being a 50-14 victory last season. The Sanford offense has had its share of struggles in the early going. The Indians were shutout in their first two games by McClave (6-0) and West Grand (40-0). Last week, they put 32 points on the board, but could not stop the Soroco ground attack, surrendering 401 rushing yards and losing 52-32.
Seventh-ranked Haxtun enjoyed its second straight rout to open the season, downing Rocky Mountain Lutheran 54-14 last Saturday. The Fightin’ Bulldogs, who have outscored the opposition 100-14 this season, led 47-6 at half against the Eagles. Drew Coffin completed four of eight passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns, one each to Ryan Schaefer and Jaxon Brown. Brown was one of three Fightin’ Bulldogs who also scored a rushing TD, joining Joey Gerk and Elijah Molde. The defense contributed a pair of touchdowns on fumble recoveries by Coffin and Delray Mayhew.
The Fightin’ Bulldogs will host Wiley (1-1) on Friday. It will be the first action for the Panthers since a 48-13 win over Miami-Yoder in week one. Wiley leans heavily on Braden Grogan (42 carries, 299 yards) who has 30 more rushing attempts than anyone else on the roster. Garrett Tyree has hooked up eight times with Tate Rohr for 211 yards and four touchdowns. Those are all of Tyree’s completions. Wiley has not had any success against the Fightin’ Bulldogs, losing all four meetings. However, last year’s game went down to the wire, with Haxtun seizing a 39-31 victory.
The newcomer to the poll with the toughest match-up this week is #7 Fowler. After edging Akron 22-12 last week, the Grizzlies host Sargent, who fell out of the rankings after beginning the season 0-2. Defense was the calling card for the Grizzlies in the win at Akron, as they only allowed one big play, forcing the Rams to grind it out on every snap. Fowler did allow 225 yards rushing, but it took Akron 43 plays to accomplish that, with 56 coming on one play. Quinton Flanscha scored all three touchdowns for the Grizzlies, catching one and running for the other two. The senior accounted for 190 yards from scrimmage, 157 of it on the ground.
Sargent found itself in a 22-0 second quarter hole in its 38-13 loss to Caliche last week. The Farmers had issues taking care of the ball, including allowing a blocked punt that resulted in a safety. Defensively, they allowed over 300 yards on the ground as Caliche looked to keep the Farmers’ offense sidelined. Sargent, who beat Fowler 57-0 last year, is looking to avoid its first 0-3 start to a season since 2010.
The victory over the Farmers brings the Buffs into the poll at #10 this week. Adam Zink backed up his huge performance in week one with another outstanding one last week. The junior rushed for 308 yards and four TDs, while also throwing for 77 yards and another score. Defensively, Zink record 11 tackles to pace the squad. Dylan Huss and Caleb Roth each added eight stops. Freshman Traevin Jones was responsible for the blocked punt that gave Caliche two points in the fourth quarter.
Next up for the Buffs is a Friday home contest with Gilpin County (1-1) who rebounded from an opening 35-28 loss to Merino by outscoring Simla 60-50 last week. The Eagles rolled up 547 yards on 68 running plays, with Austin Boulter doing yeoman’s work. Boulter toted the rock 37 times for 328 yards and four touchdowns. Manny Gomez led the defense with 17 tackles, while Angel Gomez contributed 10 stops and a pick-6.
While the two programs haven’t played a lot, there is some familiarity. Caliche won the first three meetings in the series, but Gilpin County won the most recent contest. That was a 46-14 decision last year. The Eagles scored 40 second half points, as Boulter rushed for 107 yards and three TDs.
Merino, one of five Plains Division teams in the poll this week, has not played since that week one victory over Gilpin County. The ninth-ranked Rams led 35-8 at halftime of that game with the Eagles, but game up 20 second half points to make it interesting. Boulter rushed for over 200 yards and four touchdowns for Gilpin County in the loss.
Merino’s rush defense will be tested at home on Saturday by Rocky Mountain Lutheran, who was held to 154 yards by Haxtun last week. The Eagles workhorse, Charlie Hahm, was limited to 75 yards on 19 carries a week after going for 244 yards on just 14 attempts. Sophomore Niko Roybal led the squad with 82 yards in the loss. Rocky Mountain Lutheran is looking to even the series at a win apiece after Merino took last year’s match-up, 64-14.
The lone top-10 team to not be in action this week is #4 West Grand. The Mustangs were slated to face Nederland this week, but received a forfeit from the Panthers early in the week. West Grand has outscored its two opponents 94-12 on the field.