8MAN FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK 6

As divisional play continues, the quality of match-ups this week is impressive. On tap is a battle between two unbeatens in the Plains, a showdown between ranked teams in the Southern, and one-loss teams squaring off in both the Northwest and Southwest.
The big clash in the Plains this week features #1 Sedgwick County (5-0) hosting #3 Haxtun (5-0) on Friday. The Cougars trailed Akron (2-3) 16-12 midway through the second quarter last week, before scoring on five straight possessions to pull away for a 48-24 victory. They have not lost a Plains Division game since Oct. 24, 2014.
Haxtun snapped a 10-game losing streak against #8 Dayspring Christian (3-2) with a 29-21 victory over the Eagles last Friday. The Bulldogs broke a 21-all tie with a fourth quarter score and then sealed the win with a goal line stand in the final minute. Drew Coffin was picked off three times, but he did rush for a pair of touchdowns, while Elijah Molde led the team with 77 yards on the ground, with one TD. Ryan Schaefer caught three passes for 85 yards, including a 52-yard TD from Braden Anderson.
Sedgwick County has won the last four meetings with the Bulldogs, taking last year’s contest by a 54-6 count. Brennan Ehmke completed two of three passes for 92 yards and a score for the Cougars in that meeting, and Layne Green scored twice on the ground. Haxtun was held to 98 yards of offense, with only one yard on the ground.
Seventh-ranked Fowler (5-0) returns home after two straight weeks on the road and the Grizzlies will host #5 Hoehne (4-1) in what could be the de facto Southern Division title game. No one else in the division has a winning record, as the other four teams have combined to go 5-15 to this point. The Grizzlies opened league play with a 52-0 win over Custer County (1-4), as Luke Bitter threw for three touchdowns and rushed for two more. Brand Sharp, Chantz Lange and Zane Denton each caught one of the TD passes.
The Farmers have won two straight games since suffering its lone loss to Holly in mid-September, the most recent being a 54-16 win over Kiowa (1-4). Jacob Yates hit on four of five passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns, one apiece to Trystan Moltrer and Dalton Hudson. Moltrer added 170 yards and two scores rushing, while Riley Hudson contributed 92 yards and two scores on the ground.
Fowler will be looking to snap an 11-game skid against the Farmers, as the Grizzlies last win came in 2006. Hoehne won last year’s contest 52-6 and the Farmers have only allowed more than one touchdown twice during their winning streak.
Heading to the Northwest, tenth-ranked Gilpin County (4-1) and Soroco (4-1) will hook up, with both looking to keep pace with #4 West Grand (5-0) inside the division. Gilpin County has picked up four straight wins since losing the season-opener 35-28 to #6 Merino (5-0), and the Eagles have scored 54 or more points in three of those wins. Last week, it was a 58-8 victory over Plateau Valley (2-3) in which Austin Boulter rushed for 223 yards and two touchdowns. The senior also threw for two more scores. Jack Ball added 79 yards and two TDs on the ground, and one of receiving touchdowns.
Soroco, who will have the home field advantage on Friday, has won three straight since a lopsided loss to Norwood (3-1) back on Sept. 1 (51-26). The last two wins have both come against Rangely in a rare in-season home-and-home series. The Rams downed the Panthers 48-6 on the road last week. Jace Logan led the way with 234 yards and two rushing touchdowns, while also catching two passes for 70 yards and another TD. Kendall Hood snagged four passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns, as Truman Anarella threw for 165 yards and three scores in the contest.
The Rams have won all five meetings with Gilpin County, with only one being decided by less than 37 points. Prior to last year’s 20-14 victory, Soroco had outscored the Eagles 211-12 in the series. Gilpin County built a 14-0 lead in that game, but Soroco scored touchdowns in the second and third quarters to tie it up. The teams would head to overtime, where the Rams punched one in to win it. Logan (120 yards) and Boulter (102 yards) both topped the century mark in the game. Each also scored a touchdown for their respective team.
Following a loss to #9 Sargent (2-3) two weeks ago, Norwood heads to Mancos (4-1) on Saturday needing a win to keep its hopes for a Southwest Division title alive. The Bluejays, however, can stay tied with the Farmers atop the division if they can notch the victory.
Norwood shutout Del Norte (3-2) 45-0 last week, and the Mavericks outgained the Tigers 254 to negative 19 on the ground in the contest. Hunter Wilson paced the Mavs with 90 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Will Gabriel added one score in the air and one in the rushing attack.
This is the first time Mancos has won at least four of its first five games since 2010. That year, the Bluejays opened 5-0 before finishing the season with a 6-2 mark. They have put three straight in the win column since losing to Melrose, NM back in week two. All three of those wins have come inside the division, the last against Sanford (0-5) 26-14. The Bluejays trailed 8-0 at the half in that one, and did not take a lead until midway through the third on a scoop and score.
Mancos will be looking for its first series win against the Mavericks, who have won all eight previous meetings. None have been close, as Norwood has outscored the Bluejays  421-51 in the series.
Second-ranked Holly (5-0) got its Southeast Division schedule off on the right foot last week, taking a 40-6 win over Wiley (1-4). Robert Gutierrez rushed for 136 of the Wildcats’ 317 yards on the ground and Kobe Davis threw for 88 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. William Kennedy was on the receiving end of all three scoring tosses, as the junior hauled in six passes for 85 yards. The Wildcats will continue league play with a road trip to Springfield (2-3) on Friday.
The Longhorns struggled through a difficult non-conference slate to open the season, but after downing Granada (0-5) by a 64-20 score last week, they are tied atop the division standings. Springfield raced out to a 32-0 first quarter lead and had extended to a 56-12 cushion by the half. Beau Dukes rushed for three scores and threw for another to lead the Longhorns, who also got a rushing and a receiving touchdown from freshman Hayden Lasley.
Springfield had won six consecutive match-ups in the series, but Holly has taken the last two in exciting fashion. Two years ago, the Wildcats gave up a fourth quarter lead, only to rally with a late touchdown pass and then a defensive stop inside the final minute to claim a 31-30 victory. Last season, Holly jumped out to a 20-0 first quarter lead and then had to hold on for the 27-18 victory.
West Grand enters its game with Plateau Valley sporting the top scoring defense in the classification. The Mustangs have only allowed 14 points, 19 fewer than Fowler. Their offense is pretty good, too. In last week’s 50-0 defeat of Hayden, Luis Dominguez rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns, while Hugh Wheatley added 98 yards and two scores of his own. As a team, the Mustangs went for 395 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
There weren’t many bright spots for Plateau Valley in last week’s 58-8 loss to Gilpin County, but the duo of Adrian Chamorro and Michael Bieser provided one. They hooked up for the team’s only touchdown in the contest, one of three completions between the two. It was the fourth time they’ve connected for a TD this season.
West Grand owns a 3-2 edge over the Cowboys in the series. The teams have alternated wins and losses, with the Mustangs winning in 2004, 2014 and last season, while Plateau Valley earned wins in 2005 and 2015.
If there is a team that has given its fans more grey hairs than sixth-ranked Merino, it would be a shock. The Rams have had each of their last four games go down to the wire. They’ve won all of them, including last week’s 14-6 decision over rival Caliche (2-3). On the season, Merino has a 115-69 scoring advantage, but the last four wins have been by seven, six, six and eight.
Next up will be the clash of Rams, as Merino hosts Akron on Friday. Akron had moments of success running the ball in its loss to Sedgwick County, but most of their yards came in a few big chunks. The Rams marched the ball right down the field on the opening possession, but outside of that series, they would only sustain two more drives in the contest. Tyler Wylie led the way with 181 yards, but 92 came on one touchdown run in the second quarter. Derrick Poss finished with 109 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, but the rest of the team was held to a negative 25 yards on 15 attempts
Akron has won four of five meetings with Merino, including the last three. The last two have been Akron shutouts, 42-0 in 2015 and 45-0 last season.
Dayspring Christian finds itself visiting Caliche on Friday, looking to snap a two-game skid. The Eagles had reached the #2 spot in the rankings prior to back-to-back home losses to Hoehne and Haxtun. Seth Mondragon topped the century mark in the loss to Haxtun, rushing for 111 yards and two scores. Jimmy Fargo caught a TD pass and also led the defense with 12 tackles and two interceptions.
Caliche’s Adam Zink racked up his fifth game with at least 200 yards in the loss to Merino. The junior went for 211 yards against the Rams, giving him 1236 on the season, to go with 16 touchdowns. He has two games with over 300 yards this season. The Buffs have lost seven straight against the Eagles and 12 of the last 14 in the series.
As key players have started to return to health, #10 Sargent has put two straight wins on the board to grab a share of the lead in the Southwest. Last week’s 58-0 win over Sangre de Cristo (1-5) made it three straight 7-Mile Border War victories for the Farmers. Trevor Milne rushed for 132 yards and three
Dove Creek (2-3), who will be at home for Friday’s game with the Farmers, has won two of its last three since opening the year 0-2. The Bulldogs hosted Northwest from Shiprock, NM last week and took a 66-0 victory. After winning the first two match-ups with Sargent, the Bulldogs have dropped the last three, including a forfeit last year.

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