As the regular season hits the midpoint, league play heats up. There are three games featuring ranked opponents this week, two in the Plains, but the biggest match-up is a clash of unbeatens in non-conference action. Top-ranked Sanford (4-0) visits #9 Vail Christian (3-0) on Friday, with major RPI points on the line.

Sanford rolled to a 62-0 homecoming victory over Sargent last week, with the Indians only running nine plays in the first half. They scored on seven of those snaps, with the other two resulting in penalties. It was their third consecutive shutout of the Farmers. With an offense led by quarterback Josh Holman and standout RB Kelton Gartrell, Sanford has outscored its opponents 248-100 on the season, scoring an average of 62 points a game.

Vail Christian picked up a Northwest division victory over Soroco last week, as the Saints raced to a 58-16 decision in their league opener. They have scored at least 50 points in all three contests this season, and have a 162-62 edge overall. The win helped the Saints move into the top-ten for the first time this year, as they climbed from 11th to ninth this week. After this week’s non-league contest, Vail Christian returns to league play against Plateau Valley and Hayden, the other two teams that they are tied with atop the division standings.

Another week means another top-ten match-up for #2 Sedgwick County (2-1) inside the Plains division. The Cougars jumped out to an 18-0 first half lead over Merino last week, and the held on for a 18-12 victory. Now, they visit #9 Akron (3-1) who dropped its league opener last Saturday at #5 Dayspring Christian (3-1), 58-18.

Akron held a 6-0 lead after one quarter, but by the half, the Rams trailed 26-18. It only got worse in the second half, as Dayspring Christian seized total control with a 24-0 third period. Ryan McCaffrey scored twice on the ground and added another touchdown on a pass to Ivan Losa, and the defense came up with five takeaways, including two interceptions by Evan Vogt. However, the offense gave the ball up five times on turnovers, and the Rams allowed more than 450 rushing yards on defense.

The Rams have not beaten Sedgwick County since 2014, dropping eight straight match-ups with the Cougars, including the championship games in 2015 and 2016. Sedgwick County won the last two meetings by a combined tally of 95-0.

Garrett Krehbiel led the attack for Dayspring Christian last week, running for 239 yards and a score, while also tossing another touchdown. He was picked off three times, but the Eagles were able to overcome those miscues by forcing four fumbles and intercepting a pass. Wyatt Eichmann added 111 yards and three rushing touchdowns, while Zach Freeman chipped in 88 yards and two scores on the ground. Freeman also had a receiving TD. Defensively, Eichmann registered an interception and two fumble recoveries.

Fourth-ranked Haxtun (4-0) heads into Friday afternoon’s road game with the Eagles coming off a 50-0 blanking of Caliche (1-3) last week. The Fightin’ Bulldogs led 22-0 after one quarter and had the running clock going early in the third. Isaac Andersen ran for 121 yards and three touchdowns on six carries, Michael Gerk added 118 yards and a score on the ground, and Owen Knode was six of eight passing for 89 yards and two touchdowns, one apiece to Gerk and Andersen. Ozzy Coss sparked the defense with two sacks and a fumble recovery, while Kailin Kelley tied for team-high honors with 12 tackles (one sack) and also forced two fumbles. 

Haxtun, who owns a 222-14 scoring edge this season, is just 5-12 against Dayspring Christian in the last 17 meetings. They did collect a wild 38-36 victory last season, with Knode running for two scores and throwing for one more. 

Third-ranked Mancos (3-0) steps up to play an 11-man contest this week, as the Bluejays will host Montezuma-Cortez on Friday. The Bluejays earned a forfeit over South Park last week, so this will be their first on-field contest since beating Merino 49-8 two weeks ago. Chase Moore leads the team with 525 yards and 10 rushing TD, while Kail Wayman (217 yards, three TD) and Ayden Matthews (115 yards, four TD) help a rushing attack that has piled up more than 900 yards in two games. Matthews has also thrown for 224 yards and four scores. Matthews is the team’s leading tackler, with 32 stops to date, and Mason Goodwin has five of Mancos’ eight sacks.

Montezuma-Cortez (1-2) dropped a 49-8 decision to Delta last week, and the 2A Panthers will have one more week of non-league play before opening their league slate in two weeks. 

Dove Creek (2-1) stepped up for an 11-man game last week, with the Bulldogs falling 24-14 to 1A Gunnison. The sixth-ranked Bulldogs were held to 201 total yards of offense, 120 on the ground. Gage Buffington led the way with 56 yards and a touchdown. Chorbin Cressler threw for 81 yards with a TD to Kade Hankins, and the senior QB also ran for 47 yards. Quaden Huffaker recorded a team-high 13 tackles in the loss. 

The Bulldogs will look to get back on track when they open league play at home on Friday against Norwood (0-2). The Mavericks had last week off after falling to Hayden 54-6 two weeks ago. Cash Joseph has rushed for a team-high 161 yards, 100 in the season-opening loss to Plateau Valley. He also has one of the squad’s two touchdowns on the ground. Carson Gardner has the other one, and he’s also thrown for a score. 

Dove Creek won the last meeting between the two sides, 65-30, two seasons ago. Norwood had won 12 straight in the series prior to that defeat.

Last week’s loss to Sedgwick County sent #8 Merino (1-2) into this week on a rare two-game skid. The last streak of at least two losses by the Rams came in 2018, when they dropped three straight midway through the campaign. They went on to reach the semifinals that season. They step out of league play to visit Lyons (2-1) on Saturday. It will be their first contest against the Lions in the MaxPreps era.

Lyons also enters the game off a loss, as the Lions were handed a 50-20 defeat at home by Vail Christian last week. They were down 14-0 early, but closed the half only trailing 20-12. The wheels fell off in the second half, as they were outscored 16-0 in the third and never recovered. Miles Dumbauld had strong day throwing the ball, hitting all seven attempts for 113 yards and two scores in the loss. 

Calhan (3-0) needed a second half rally last week to remain unbeaten, as the Bulldogs overcame a 14-0 deficit to defeat Rangely 22-14. It was the ground game that made the difference for the Bulldogs, as they had two back over 100 yards, and nearly had a third. Ryan Campbell paced the team with 119 yards and two touchdowns, while Aiden Jack amassed 109 yards and another TD. Logan Jack finished with 94 yards. Defensively, Zach Peterson had two interceptions for the #10 Bulldogs. 

The Bulldogs will open Southern division play on Saturday at home against Simla (2-2) who fell from the rankings after last week’s 16-14 defeat by Pikes Peak Christian. It was the second straight loss for the Cubs. Simla led 8-0 in the first quarter last week, but two third quarter touchdowns by Pikes Peak Christian had the Cubs trailing in the second half. Simla scored in the fourth, but could not convert the two-point try and came up short. Caston Cox threw for both Cub touchdowns, but also had a pass picked off. Defense kept the team in the game, intercepting three passes and forcing a fumble. TJ Eurich had two of the picks. Ethen Gonzalez was one of five players with at least 10 tackles, as he recorded a game-high 20. 

Simla has won two of the last three meetings with Calhan, taking a 28-20 win last season. Calhan eked out a 22-20 victory two years ago.

Pikes Peak Christian (2-1) will look to build a three-game winning streak when the Eagles host John Mall (0-1) in Southern division play on Friday. Holly (2-1) and Wiley (1-0) meet on Friday in Wiley, with each looking to improve to 2-0 in the Arkansas Valley. Fowler (2-1) tries to keep pace when it hosts Las Animas (1-2) on Friday.