With just two weeks of regular season action left, teams are trying to secure valuable RPI points to lock up postseason spots. Four automatic bids are still available, as only two division champions have been crowned coming into this week.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY BRADLEY SIMON / WILDCAT PRIDE PHOTO
Holly (6-1, 8th RPI) leads the division by one game over both Fowler (5-2, 15th RPI) and Crowley County (5-2, 16th RPI) and the eighth-ranked Wildcats close out the regular season with those two opponents. Holly is coming off a 43-0 win over Hoehne (4-3, 22nd RPI) last week, in which Fernando Dominguez recorded his fifth straight game with at least 100 receiving yards. The senior caught four passes for 113 yards and two scores, giving him totals of 33 receptions, 692 yards, and nine touchdowns on the season.
The Wildcats will host Fowler on Friday night, looking for a sixth consecutive win. They will also be trying to break a two-game skid to the Grizzlies, who took a 16-14 victory last year. Fowler dropped a 26-6 contest at home last week to Crowley County, as the Chargers scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to blow open what had been a one-score game entering the final frame. The loss snapped Fowler’s four-game winning streak, all in league play.
Crowley County, like Holly, controls its own destiny, despite being tied for second in the league. If the Chargers win out, they would be no worse than tied for the league lead, and would own the tie-breaker over Holly. However, they must get past Hoehne first. The Chargers will be on the road Friday for their clash with the Farmers, who have lost their last two outings. Hoehne was outscored 95-16 in losses to McClave (4-3, 19th RPI) and Holly over the last two weeks. Crowley County has won four straight entering this contest. The two did not play last year, as they participated in different seasons.
McClave is within striking distance of a potential wildcard berth into the postseason, but the last two opponents for the Cardinals will actually hurt their RPI standing, as Springfield (0-7, 34th RPI) and Wiley (2-3, 23rd RPI) have a combined two wins. Still, the Cards, coming off a 62-16 win over Las Animas last week, have an outside shot. Aiden Martinez caught three passes for 110 yards and a TD, and also added a rushing score in last week’s win. McClave’s defense recovered four fumbles, with Kolten Smartt returning one for a score.
It’s been a downright dreadful season for Springfield, as the Longhorns have allowed close to 46 points a game, while only scoring nine a contest. They were handed a 34-8 loss at home last week by Wiley. Springfield has been shutout three times this season. The Longhorns have won 10 of the last 15 meetings with McClave, including a 62-46 shootout last season. The Cards were in the midst of their own winless campaign at the time.
Byers (5-3, 18th RPI) has already locked up the divisional title, its first in any classification in 11 years, and first in eight-man in 28. The Bulldogs sit outside the top-16 in the RPI and if they remain there, someone will be bumped out of the postseason. As things stand this week, that would be Crowley County. The Bulldogs will likely be the only team from the division in the postseason, as everyone else sits mid-20s or worse in the RPI.
The Bulldogs ran their winning streak to five games by beating South Park (0-7, 37th RPI) 44-0 last week. Dean Kerns threw for two scores and added another on the ground, while Corey Russell topped the century mark in the running game. Russell tallied 116 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries, and he also had three conversion runs in the victory. Byers is off this week, and will look to close out an unbeaten league run next Saturday at Justice (1-5, 40th RPI).
Second-ranked Mancos (5-0, 1st RPI) leads the division by a game over #5 Sanford (5-2, 3rd RPI), #7 Dove Creek (5-2, 10th RPI), and Sargent (3-3, 30th RPI), heading into Friday’s non-league contest with Dolores Huerta Prep (3-4, 28th RPI). The Bluejays can claim the crown if Dove Creek beats Sargent on Friday, as Mancos already owns wins over Dove Creek (22-14) and Sanford (60-24). That win over Sanford came last Friday, as Chase Moore piled up 373 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Ayden Matthews, who threw for a TD, led the defense with 16 tackles, and Kail Wayman had three total touchdowns, including a scoop-and-score.
Dolores Huerta broke a two-game losing streak with last week’s 50-24 win at home over John Mall (0-3, 35th RPI). The Scorpions turned the ball over four times in that contest, and allowed 570 all purpose yards, but still found ways to get the job done. Mancos is 2-0 against the Scorpions, winning 52-6 in 2018, and taking a forfeit victory the following year.
Dove Creek has not had a game since the eight-point loss to Mancos back on the first of the month. The Bulldogs picked up forfeit wins over Soroco and Melrose (NM) over the last two weeks. Dove Creek has rushed for an average of 299 yards a game, behind Gage Buffington (559 yards), Chorbin Cressler (318), Kade Hankins (211), and Cole Taber (209).
Sargent had a bye last week, giving the Farmers extra time to prepare for this week’s contest. They were last in action two weeks ago, picking up a 46-6 win over South Park. Conner Holmes and Trenton Lovelace each had two rushing touchdowns in that contest, and the Farmer defense recorded eight sacks, three fumble recoveries (one of a TD), two blocked punts, and a safety. The Farmers had won six straight against Dove Creek before last year’s 41-12 defeat. Friday’s game is at Dove Creek.
Sanford steps out of league play for what was the most anticipated game of the year before the season began. The Indians, who got more than 230 yards and four touchdowns in the ground attack from QB Josh Holman in last week’s loss to Mancos, will meet up with #9 Sedgwick County (4-3, 9th RPI) at Fowler on Saturday. It’s a rematch of last December’s state title game, which Sedgwick County won 72-32 to claim its sixth consecutive title.
Sedgwick County enters the match-up on its first two-game losing streak since the 2014 season, after the Cougars dropped a 36-6 decision to #4 Dayspring Christian (6-2, 7th RPI) at home last Friday. The Cougars did not get on the board until midway through the fourth quarter. They were held to just 12 points in a loss to #1 Haxtun (7-0, 2nd RPI) the week before.
Vail Christian (7-0, 5th RPI) and Rangely (4-3, 21st RPI) sit tied atop the division standings and the two teams will meet in Rangely on Friday. The third-ranked Saints, who took a 46-0 win over Gilpin County (0-7, 39th RPI) last Thursday, already own a victory over third place Hayden (5-2, 17th RPI) so a win on the road this week would guarantee them nothing less than a share of the league title. Taylor Shull went into last week’s game just five yards short of 1000 through the air on the season, providing balance to an offense that was averaging 258 yards a game on the ground. That was the second straight shutout for the Saints, who are allowing 14 points a game.
The Panthers picked up their second shutout in their last three games when they blanked Soroco (1-6, 32nd RPI) 46-0 last week. Keihlin Myers only completed three of 15 pass attempts in that victory, but two went for scores. Zane Varner added 125 yards on the ground as the Panthers won for the fourth straight time after opening the season 0-3.
Rangely has won two of the last three contests with the Saints, including last year’s 24-8 decision. Varner ran for 188 yards and a TD, while Timothy Scoggins recorded four sacks to help lead the Panthers to the victory.
Hayden can still factor into the division race, but the Tigers would need some help. They need Rangely to win this week, and then the Tigers would need to beat the Panthers next Friday. Even though they are just one spot out of 16th in the RPI, knowing that Byers could bump whoever finishes in that position out of the playoffs, winning the division might be the only way in for the Tigers.
As of Thursday, five teams from the Plains division sat inside the top 12 of the RPI, including league leader Haxtun. The Fightin’ Bulldogs had last week off and they can wrap up the crown with a win on Saturday at home against Denver Christian (0-7, 33rd RPI). Haxtun already owns a win over Dayspring Christian, who sits one game back in second place.
Defense has been a key for the Fightin’ Bulldogs, as they’ve allowed a total of 52 points this season. That’s just more than seven a game. Isaac Andersen leads that unit with 77 tackles, followed by Kailin Kelley (68) and Grant Statz (62). Ozzy Coss has eight of the team’s 20 sacks.
Denver Christian dropped a 54-12 contest at #6 Akron (5-2, 6th RPI) last Thursday, as the Rams jumped out to a 40-0 first quarter lead. Trevin Schmidt ran for 121 yards and two scores on nine carries, and Nathan Buehrer added 92 yards through the air in the loss. This is just the third season for the Thunder in eight-man, and their first in the Plains. They were 3-10 over their two previous seasons.
If not for allowing eight points in the closing minutes against Sedgwick County, Akron would still be in the discussion for the league title. However, the Rams are in position to host a first round playoff game, but they need to win out to do so. That challenge begins on Saturday when they host Caliche (2-5, 20th RPI). Akron got three passing touchdowns from Ryan McCaffrey in last week’s win over Denver Christian, and the sophomore QB also ran for two more scores. Ivan Losa had a rushing TD and a pick-six in the victory.
Caliche suffered its second straight loss, and its third in four games, as the Buffs fell 40-6 at Merino (3-4, 12th RPI) last week. That loss left the Buffs averaging just 15 points a game in league play. Caliche had won three straight against Akron before a 32-14 loss last season. The Buffs still maintain a 5-4 edge in the series.
Dayspring Christian saw senior QB Garrett Krehbiel throw for 180 yards and four touchdowns, and run for 190 and another TD in last week’s win over Sedgwick County. That pushed him to over 1600 yards of total offense on the season, with 13 passing touchdowns, and 12 rushing. The Eagles will travel to Merino on Saturday, looking to avenge last season’s 44-30 loss to the Rams. Merino ran for 400 yards in that contest, including 87 by Deacon Trenkle, who had three touchdowns. Last week’s win for Merino stopped a two-game slide by the Rams, who had fallen to Haxtun and Akron in consecutive weeks.
Three teams are tied atop the Southern division, but in all actuality, tenth-ranked Calhan (6-1, 4th RPI) is the team to beat. The Bulldogs own wins over both Pikes Peak Christian (3-2, 11th RPI) and Swink (4-2, 13th RPI), the two teams who also only have one league loss.
Calhan allowed a late touchdown to Pikes Peak Christian last week, but the Bulldogs were able to stop the two-point conversion try and went on to their third straight win, 26-24. Ryan Campbell ran for 94 yards, and Aiden Jack added 80, and both scored twice in the win. Aiden Jack recorded a game-high 23 tackles, one more than Logan Jack.
The Bulldogs host Custer County (1-5, 36th RPI) on Saturday. The Bobcats dropped their fourth straight game last week, as they fell 46-12 at West Grand (3-4, 24th RPI). Custer County gave up 32 first quarter points, and trailed 46-0 at the half. The Bobcats turned the ball over four times in that game, three on lost fumbles. Custer County has lost both prior meetings with Calhan, most recently it was a 44-32 decision two years ago.
One of the other two challengers will be eliminated from title contention in the division, as Pikes Peak Christian hosts Swink on Friday. Thanks to six forced turnovers, five on fumbles, the Eagles nearly knocked off Calhan last week. One of those was a scoop-and-score by Thomas Soliz, who also had a receiving touchdown from Adam Glaze. Mick Kopriva and Adam Seffens each had a rushing TD for the Eagles in the loss.
Swink was also in a barn burner last week, but the Lions were able to come out on top. Behind 280 yards and two rushing touchdowns from Garlon Guerin, and 32 tackles by Clay Roweth, the Lions outlasted Simla (5-3, 14th RPI) 36-30. Hunter Bauserman threw for two touchdowns and ran for one more as Swink beat the Cubs for the first time since 2005.
The Lions will be looking to make it consecutive wins over Pikes Peak Christian, as they earned a 44-22 victory last year. Roweth ran for 125 yards and three touchdowns, and had a team-high 15 tackles for Swink in that contest. Seffens ran for a score for the Eagles, and Caleb Grant added 15 tackles and an interception in the loss.