8MAN FOOTBALL QUARTERFINALS PREVIEW

The opening round of the eight-man playoffs saw three double-digit seeds spring upsets, while the #9 seed also won on the road. Two of those teams that pulled off upsets will meet in the quarterfinals. That contest, and the rest of the round, is previewed in bracket order.
 
#1 SEDGWICK COUNTY (9-0) AT #9 FOWLER (9-1) SATURDAY 1PM
Top-ranked Sedgwick County began its hunt for a third consecutive title by dropping #16 McClave 49-0 in the opening round. The Cougars struck for five touchdowns in the first quarter, three through the air, and had the mercy clock rolling by the half. All of the scoring was done prior to the intermission.
Fowler had a tougher time in its contest with #8 Springfield, but the Grizzlies pulled away from a 6-all tie at the end of the first quarter for a 36-14 victory. The Grizzlies outscored the Longhorns 22-0 over the second and third quarters. Fowler forced Springfield to throw after getting on top and the Grizzlies picked off three passes. Brand Sharp returned one 40 yards for a score and he also caught a TD pass from Luke Bitter. Quinton Flanscha led the team with 163 yards and two touchdowns rushing.
This is the first meeting between the two programs but Fowler did beat Julesburg 34-12 in the 1997 playoffs.  The Grizzlies also have a win in 1990 (30-13).  Fowler has not reached the semifinals since 2012 while Sedgwick County seeks a third consecutive visit to the round.  They’ve won their last 10 post-season games.
No matter who wins, the victor will travel in the semifinals.
 
#5 HOLLY (8-1) AT #13 CALICHE (5-5) SATURDAY 1PM
Holly found itself trailing #12 Haxtun 8-0 late in the first half last week, but the Wildcats were able to score before the break and went to half with the score knotted. That touchdown gave them a spark and the Wildcats would build a 32-8 lead, eventually eliminating the Fightin’ Bulldogs 32-16. Holly allowed 301 passing yards, but the defense came up with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
In a game featuring old school, ground and pound football, Caliche defeated #4 Hoehne 20-16. The two teams combined for just one completion on eight attempts, with 99 combined rushing attempts. Caliche built a 12-8 halftime lead, and the Buffs would hold a 20-16 edge in the closing minutes, with the Farmers driving. Dylan Huss stripped the ball from a Hoehne rusher and Skyler Armstrong recovered it to secure the upset. Adam Zink racked up 154 yards and two scores on 43 carries. Caliche’s other score came on an 86-yard kick return by Traevonn Walton.
The winner of this game will host in the semifinals. Both teams have won coin flips with both Sedgwick County and Fowler.
Saturday also marks the first-ever playoff meeting between the two clubs.  Caliche recently visited the semifinals on their way to the 2014 state championship.  Holly last made it to the Final Four in 2003 where they lost to Merino 48-0.  Before that season, the previous semifinal berth came in 1960.
 
#14 SOROCO (7-3) AT #11 MANCOS (8-2) SATURDAY 1PM
Soroco jumped out to an early 20-0 lead at #3 Merino last week and the barrage was too much for the hosts to overcome. Merino would outscore the visiting Rams 32-22 from that point on, but they could not avoid the upset. Soroco pounded the ball right at Merino, accumulating 350 yards on 43 run plays. Jace Logan accounted for 298 yards and five scores on 36 attempts.
Mancos worked its own brand of upset magic, taking down #6 Rocky Mountain Lutheran 64-28. The Bluejays led 8-0 after one quarter, but pulled away with consecutive 22-point frames. Mancos gave up 370 total yards to the Eagles, 196 of that to Charlie Hahm, but the defense came up with key stops all game long.
The winner of this contest will earn a home game in the semifinals. Soroco gets the advantage due to the fact that it has been on the road in each of the first two rounds, while Mancos wins a coin flip against Sargent. The Bluejays would host West Grand, as the Mustangs have had more home games in the playoffs.
Soroco’s win last week was their first playoffs since 1967 and just the third in school history.  The Rams topped Aspen 14-6 in 1967 and also downed Basalt 19-0 the year before.  Mancos also recorded just their third win all-time in the post-season.  The Bluejays downed Del Norte 37-24 in 2002 and Sanford 32-29 in 1996.
 
#7 SARGENT (7-3) AT #2 WEST GRAND (10-0) SATURDAY 2PM
Sargent claimed its seventh straight win, using a 36-18 second half to put #10 Gilpin County away. The Farmers rolled to the 56-26 victory behind an offense that piled up 597 yards. Ryan Davis threw for 166 of those and added another 120 on the ground, while Frank Torrez ran for 166. Christian Schaller pushed his season tackle total to 111, leading the team with 16 in the contest.
After winning its last six regular season games by a combined tally of 300-2, West Grand had its hands full with #15 Norwood last week. The Mustangs led Norwood 8-6 at the half and wound up edging the Mavericks 24-14. That matched the number of points West Grand had allowed going into the matchup. Hugh Wheatley rushed for 101 yards and two scores and Brady Gore added 193 (141 passing, 52 rushing) yards from scrimmage in the win. Luis Dominguez, held to 84 yards on offense, sparked the defense with two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Both teams enter the game knowing that they will be on the road next round if they win. This is the only quarterfinal where the teams have met recently. Last year, with the seeding reversed, Sargent beat West Grand 63-30 in the quarterfinals. In that contest, the Farmers ran for 479 yards and picked off four Gore passes.
A win gets Sargent into the state semifinals for the third straight season and just the fourth time in school history.  They rolled past West Grand 60-30 in this round a year ago before falling to Akron (33-32) the next week.  The two programs also met in 2005 with West Grand collecting a 27-25 decision in the opening round.  That win was the last for the Mustangs before last season’s 43-23 win over Dayspring Christian in round one.  The Mustangs have two championships; winning the 1A crown in 1998 and 1996.

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