8MAN FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK 5

Non-conference play has wrapped up and now teams get to the meat of their schedules. While there is only one contest featuring two ranked teams this week, there are a number of other games that have squads that are highly ranked in the RPI squaring off.
The only ranked vs ranked game takes place in the Plains Division, where #3 Haxtun (4-0) visits #8 Dayspring Christian (3-1) on Saturday. Haxtun is 10th in the RPI and the Bulldogs just posted their second shutout of the season, downing Kiowa (1-3) 40-0 last week. In four games, Haxtun has only allowed 26 total points. Wyatt Buccelli leads the defense with 42 tackles, 10.5 for loss, and two forced fumbles. That unit has 13 fumble recoveries, led by Drew Coffin with four, and three apiece by Braden Anderson and Marshall Davis.
Dayspring Christian suffered its first loss of the season last week, 44-37, to #5 Hoehne (3-1). The Eagles trailed 30-8 in the third quarter, but rallied to take a 37-36 lead early in the fourth. The Farmers put together a long scoring drive to regain the lead and kept the Eagles off the board after that. Jimmy Fargo’s numbers stand out on both sides of the ball for Dayspring Christian, ranked 14th in the RPI. The senior has 250 yards and four touchdowns rushing, 134 yards and six TDs receiving, and 44 tackles, good for second behind Seth Mondragon’s 58. Fargo also has 213 kick return yards, with another touchdown.
The Eagles have had the upper hand in this series, winning the last 10 meetings, including a wild 55-53 affair last year. Dayspring Christian rushed for 434 yards on its way to amassing 563 total yards in the win, while Haxtun threw for 438 as the Bulldogs won the yardage battle with 612 from scrimmage.
Also in the Plains is the latest installment of Sedgwick County vs Akron on Friday. While some of the luster of previous meetings has been removed by a pair of early season losses by the Rams, this one still garners attention as the two have met in the last two championship games. Sedgwick County (4-0) has been ranked #1 all season and that wasn’t hurt any by last week’s 40-14 win at Rangely. The Cougars had a 33-0 halftime lead and a touchdown with about four minutes left in the third got the mercy clock running.
This starts a very important stretch for Akron (2-2) as all five of their remaining opponents are ahead of the Rams in the RPI. Akron currently sits 24th, while Sedgwick County is third in those standings. Akron snapped a two-game skid by pounding Simla 60-20 last week. Most of the damage was done late in that contest, as the Rams outscored the Cubs 40-8 in the second half, 24-0 in the fourth quarter. Justin Traxler (231 yards) and Derrick Poss (201) both topped 200 yards on the ground, as the Rams rolled up 543 rushing yards.
Sedgwick County holds a 4-3 edge in the series, with all four wins coming in the last two years. The Cougars have allowed a total of 28 points to the Rams in that streak. Last year’s regular season meeting was a 46-8 decision and then the championship game went to the Cougars by a 41-11 count.
Second-ranked Holly (3-0) opens Southeast Division play on Friday against Wiley (1-3). The Wildcats had last week off after knocking off Hoehne in week three. Kobe Davis enters this game leading a very balanced attack with 391 passing yards. Through three games, the Wildcats have rushed for 559 yards and thrown for 556. While the load has been spread out in the ground game, much of the work through the air has gone to Gus Dominguez. The junior has caught 14 balls for 240 yards and three scores. No one else has more than five catches.
Two straight losses have Wiley sitting 26th in the RPI, with only two games remaining against teams they trail, including this one against Holly. The Panthers were handed a 39-8 loss last week by #7 Fowler (4-0), with the lone touchdown coming on a pass from Garrett Tyree to Tate Rohr. That duo hooked up seven times for 63 yards, giving them 16 connections for 284 yards and five TDs on the season. No one else has caught a pass. Braden Grogan racked up his fourth straight 100-yard game on the ground, gaining 174 against the Grizzlies.
Holly has won nine of the last 10 meetings with Wiley, including a 40-13 victory last year. The Wildcats scored two return touchdowns in that win, and recorded eight sacks on defense.
West Grand (4-0) continued its early season roll by blasting Pikes Peak Christian 52-2 last week. The Mustangs nearly had the shutout but gave up a late safety to the Eagles. Chris Brown seemingly utilized everyone on offense, giving 11 players at least one rushing attempt and having three throw passes. Luis Dominguez and Hugh Wheatley each scored a pair of rushing TDs and Wheatley added another score on a kick return. The Mustangs, ranked #4 in the weekly poll, are ninth in the RPI. They will host Hayden (3-1) on Friday.
Hayden had won three straight on the field, but it was determined that the Tigers had to forfeit the first of those victories, a 56-12 decision over Justice, due to using an ineligible player. They are appealing that decision by CHSAA. In the two games after that contest, Hayden downed South Park (30-20) and Miami-Yoder (62-12).
The recent series has nearly been an even split, with West Grand owning a 6-4 edge. The Mustangs have won the last four match-ups, scoring at least 52 points in each of the last three and only allowing a total of 32 in those three games.
Hoehne, ranked fifth in the poll and fifth in the RPI, racked up 390 rushing yards in its win over Dayspring Christian. Jacob Yates tallied 202 of those, including 95 on one crazy play. Running the option, Yates saw his pitch to the tailback bobbled. The quarterback picked up the fumble on a perfect bounce, reversed field, and outran the defense for the score. It marked his fourth 200-yard rushing performance in the last 16 games, and the fifth one of his career.
The Farmers will host Kiowa on Friday, with the Indians coming in still smarting from the loss to Haxtun. Kiowa’s trio of Bryar Morgan, Jake McFadden and Dustin Wenz, who all average nine or more tackles, will be tasked with slowing down the Hoehne rushing attack, that has four players over 200 yards on the season. Hoehne has won all five previous meetings with the Indians. Last year, the Farmers rolled to a 60-20 victory.
The top team in this week’s RPI is Merino (4-0). The Rams are ranked #6 in the weekly poll, moving up three spots after last week’s 14-8 victory over #10 McClave (3-1). The Rams capped a 12-play, 60 yard drive with a nine-yard TD pass from Cade Conger to Matthew Frank to take the lead inside the final minute. Conger would later seal the win with an interception. Merino takes its unbeaten record into league play on Friday when the Rams host Caliche (2-2).
Caliche (19th RPI) has been off since losing to Gilpin County two weeks ago. The Buffs had just entered the rankings earlier that week before being tripped up by the Eagles, 36-30. Adam Zink enters this week’s game averaging over 250 yards a game on the ground. The junior leads the team with 1025 yards and 15 TDs. His 64 tackles are also tops on the squad.
The Buffs will be looking to end a two-game skid to the Rams, who have won 11 of the last 15 meetings with Caliche. Last year, it was a 49-0 shutout by Merino.
Fowler, who hopes to challenge Hoehne in the Southern, opens league play on Saturday at Custer County (1-3). The Grizzlies have two wins over teams that were ranked at the time, beating both Akron and Sargent. Brand Sharp (460 yards) and Quinton Flanscha (435 yards) give the Grizzlies a two-headed threat in the ground attack. The duo has combined for 13 touchdowns.
The Bobcats have lost the last three games against Fowler and they come in having dropped a 42-6 contest to South Park their last time out. Custer County trailed their rivals 36-6 at halftime. David Kinsey had his second straight big effort on defense, registering 19 tackles. The week before, the senior tallied 23 stops in a win over Las Animas.
Despite a 1-3 record, Sargent comes in at #9 this week. The Farmers earned their first win of the season by dropping previously fourth-ranked Norwood last week, 34-6. The loss sent the Mavericks all the way out of the poll this week. Ryan Davis and Trevor Milne each rushed for over 120 yards in the win last week and the pair has now combined for over 1200 yards from scrimmage this year.
The Farmers will continue Southwest Division play with one of its two big rivalry games. Sargent will visit Sangre de Cristo (1-4) on Saturday for the 7-Mile Border War. The Farmers are 4-1 in the last five installments, and they’ve won the last two in dominating fashion, 60-12 and 53-8.
The Thunderbirds are on their second two-game losing streak of the season following last week’s 49-0 loss to Mancos. After a bye next week, they will face Norwood, so this is as close to a “must win” as it gets.
Bounce back is the key term for McClave this week following the heartbreaking loss to Merino. The Cardinals will look to do that on Friday when they host Las Animas (1-3) to open Southeast Division play. The Trojans have dropped three straight since opening the season with a win over Miami-Yoder. They have not fared well in this series, losing all three meetings by a combined score of 139-18. McClave rolled 56-0 last year, without throwing a pass.

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