With one-game leads over their closest challengers, and head-to-head victories over those same squads, Sedgwick County and Hoehne can secure a share of their division titles with wins this week. Sedgwick County visits Caliche in the Plains, while the Farmers will host Simla in the Southern.
Last weekâ€™s 57-14 win over #4 Merino (6-1) put Sedgwick County (7-0) on the precipice of a third straight Plains Division crown. The top-ranked Cougars pay a visit to Caliche (3-4), who fell out of the top-10 after losing to #5 Haxtun (6-1) last week. The Buffs are 14th in the current RPI, while the Cougars are #1.
The game will feature two punishing runners in Layne Green (Sedgwick County) and Adam Zink (Caliche). Green has made a habit out of running over defenders this season, gaining extra yardage by following forward at the end of the play. Zink posted his sixth game this season with over 200 yards on the ground in the Buffsâ€™ 38-20 loss to Haxtun. The junior went for 285 yards on 40 carries.
With its 34-28 overtime victory over #7 Fowler (6-1) two weeks ago, #3 Hoehne (6-1) needs a win over Simla (1-6) to gain a share of the Southern crown. The Farmers go into the contest having won four straight, including a 74-6 manhandling of Custer County (2-5) last week. Hoehne rolled up 531 yards of offense and intercepted three Bobcat passes. Simla gave up 32 second half points to Fowler last week and dropped the game 40-14. It was the second straight loss for the Cubs.
Second-ranked West Grand (7-0) is on the road Thursday, facing Soroco (5-2) in a big Northwest Division clash. The Mustangs are tied with #8 Gilpin County (6-1) for the top spot in the division and those two will meet next week. The Rams are one game back, having lost to Gilpin County two weeks ago. They bounced back from that loss to down Plateau Valley (2-5) behind 446 yards and five touchdowns on the ground by Jace Logan.
West Grand pitched its third consecutive shutout, 46-0 over Rangely, last week. Luis Dominguez rushed for three scores and Brady Gore tossed two TD passes to Luke Mogck. The Mustangs have only given up 14 points all season.
Merino looks to get back in the win column on Friday when the Rams host Dayspring Christian (4-3). Sitting second in the RPI, Merino is all but a lock for the postseason, but the Eagles are currently on the outside looking in. Following last weekâ€™s 22-14 win over Akron (2-5), Dayspring Christian sits 17th in the RPI, just .003 behind South Park (4-3) for the final playoff spot. Their three losses are by a total of 18 points.
Haxtun also should be playoff bound, as the Bulldogs sit fifth this week in the RPI. The Fightinâ€™ Bulldogs outscored Caliche 25-0 in the second quarter last week to seize control of the game. They piled up 406 rushing yards, 141 from Drew Coffin, and recorded five takeaways in the victory. Haxtun visits Akron on Friday, looking for its first win in seven tries against the Rams.
Sixth-ranked Holly (6-1) finds itself in third place in the Southeast Division, but the Wildcats are still very much alive in the race for that divisionâ€™s championship. They host McClave (6-1) on Friday and the Cardinals are one of the teams tied for the division lead. A win by the Wildcats creates the possibility of a three-way tie, as McClave visits co-leader Springfield (4-3) next week. If the Cards gain the victory this week, that game with the Longhorns is likely for the outright title.
Holly enters the game having defeated Granada (0-7) 41-8 in their rivalry game last week, as Kobe Davis threw for 321 yards and three scores. Gus Dominguez hauled in six passes for 176 yards, including a 94-yard TD. McClave beat Wiley (2-5) 56-7 last week, making it three straight games scoring more than 50 points. Holly has a two-game winning streak in the series with the Cardinals.
Fowlerâ€™s Quinton Flanscha rushed for 144 yards and two scores in the Grizzliesâ€™ win over Simla last week. Zane Denton added two more TDs, one receiving and another on a punt return. Ranked eighth in the RPI, the Grizzlies host Swink (3-4) on Friday, trying to keep the pressure on Hoehne. Fowler has won six straight over the Lions, who snapped a two-game skid with a 24-6 victory over Kiowa (2-5) last week.
As mentioned earlier, Gilpin County is tied with West Grand for the lead in the Northwest and their meeting next week in Kremmling could be for the outright championship of the division, but the Eagles must get through Rangely (1-6) first. The Panthers have dropped their last six contests this season, while Gilpin County has won its last six. That includes a 38-0 win last week over Hayden (4-3). The Eagles held the Tigers to 105 yards of offense while accumulating 419 of their own, all on the ground. Austin Boulter tallied 258 of those and scored four touchdowns.
New to the rankings this week, Mancos (6-1) comes in at #9. The Bluejays are seventh in the RPI, making them a pretty good bet to reach the postseason. They have won five consecutive games since suffering their only loss to an out of state opponent. Last week saw the Bluejays dominate Nederland (0-6) 50-0, as they held the Panthers to negative 13 yards on offense. Focusing on Thursdayâ€™s opponent, Dove Creek (2-5), will be of extra importance, with next weekâ€™s regular season finale against #10 Sargent (4-3) looming on the horizon. The winner of that contest will be the champion of the Southwest Division.
The Farmers have won their last four games to move above .500 on the season, but they are 15th in the RPI. Even with a win over Sanford (1-6) this week, that could drop, making next weekâ€™s game with the Bluejays even more important, with division winners being guaranteed a playoff berth.
Sanford enters the game having just picked up its first win of the season, beating Dove Creek 56-20 last week. The Indians had scored a total of 72 points in their first six games. Sargent downed Del Norte (4-3) 53-15 in last weekâ€™s Siren Game, jumping out to a 50-7 halftime advantage over the Tigers. The Farmers outgained Del Norte 382 to negative five on the ground.
Rocky Mountain Lutheran (5-2) can wrap up the Central Division with a win over Miami-Yoder (1-6) and a loss by Justice (4-2) to Pikes Peak Christian (3-4). If both win this week, next weekâ€™s game between the two would determine the division title. South Park (4-3) also factors in the mix. The Burros are tied with Justice for second in the Central and they have a victory over the Phoenix this season. Rocky Mountain Lutheran owns a win over South Park. If Justice wins out, there would be a three-way tie for the crown, assuming South Park wins both of its remaining games, as well.