8Man Preview – Week 3

With the completion of this week’s games, the regular season will be halfway finished. Because of COVID quarantines, that won’t happen until Wednesday, as fifth-ranked Crowley County and Holly have pushed back their week three contest to allow Holly the opportunity to play.

That is a key contest inside the Arkansas Valley, as the winner will be the top challenger to #2 Fowler for the league title. Again, a league championship does not guarantee a postseason berth, but in a league as deep as the Ark Valley, that will help in all of the seeding criteria.

Holly was ready to play its week two game last Friday at Springfield, when the school went into quarantine. By moving this week’s contest to next Wednesday, the Wildcats should be out of that quarantine and ready to go. When they return to action, they will do so with a 1-0 mark. That 48-44 win over Haxtun in week one looks a lot better now, with the Fightin’ Bulldogs upset over previously third-ranked Dayspring Christian last week.

The Wildcats will have to deal with the classification’s second leading rusher in Crowley County’s Adam Schultz. The senior has gone over the 200-yard mark in each of his first two games, and enters the match-up with 433 yards and five touchdowns. Focus too much on him, and quarterback Tach Brewer will make you pay. Brewer is completing better than 63% of his passes so far, and has added a pair of rushing touchdowns to go with two he has tossed. Defensively, Schultz is the top tackler with 24 stops, and he’s also returned an interception for a score.

Despite only having one game in the books, Holly’s QB Dayne Eaton is second in the classification in passing yards per game, having tallied 221 against Haxtun in the opener. His three TD passes also have him ranked among the leaders. While Crowley County’s rushing attack is centered around its star senior, the Wildcats had three players run for more than 50 yards in the opener, led by Eli Ramos with 101. Ramos is also one of three Wildcat defenders who registered 11 tackles against Haxtun. The other two were Gabe Neugebauer and Donovan Pecina.

Friday night’s portion of the schedule is highlighted by a top-10 showdown in the Plains league, as tenth-ranked Haxtun (1-1) hosts #1 Sedgwick County (2-0). The top-ranked Cougars pushed their winning streak to 19 straight games with a 41-0 shutout of Akron (0-2) last week. Sedgwick County scored three touchdowns in the first nine minutes of the game, on its way to building a 34-0 halftime advantage. The running clock was implemented around two minutes into the third quarter.

As mentioned earlier, Haxtun knocked off Dayspring Christian 38-36 last Saturday, giving the Fightin’ Bulldogs only their second win over DCA in the last 14 meetings. Sophomore Michael Gerk took one of the starring roles in the victory. He ran for two scores, caught one, and threw for yet another. Gerk also shined on defense, as he picked off a pair of Christian Still passes in the game. Owen Knode threw for two TDs and also ran for two, and he supplied the two-point conversion that wound up being the difference in the contest.

Haxtun has a lot of history to overcome in the match-up, as Sedgwick County has taken seven straight meetings. Last year, the Cougars put a 60-6 beating on the Fightin’ Bulldogs, with Jared Ehmke throwing for 103 yards on just 3 of 4 passing. Haxtun was held to just 56 yards of total offense in that outing.

Saturday’s slate of games is where many of the real gems are this week. That includes a first place clash in the Southern league, and another in the Northwest. Throw in key tilts in the Plains and Mountain so there will be plenty of important action for fans to follow.

Seventh-ranked Pikes Peak Christian (2-0) leaned heavily on its run game and defense to overcome a 28-12 fourth quarter deficit against Calhan (1-1) last week. The Eagles amassed 327 yards on the ground, and came up with three takeaways in their 40-28 comeback victory over the Bulldogs. Seniors Andrew Harris (120 yards) and Joey Yocum (110 yards) each topped the century mark as runners, and junior Ben Schneider supplied an important pick-six on defense to propel the Eagles to victory.

They now hit the road to face rival Simla (2-0), with the Cubs looking to snap a four-game skid against PPC. Prior to the last four games against the Eagles, in which Simla has scored a total of 32 points, the Cubs had won five straight in the series.

Simla built a 20-0 halftime advantage in last week’s game against Swink, and then held on for a 26-12 victory over the Lions. On the season, the Cubs have allowed a total of 19 points in two games.

West Grand finally got its season underway on Tuesday night, and the Mustangs opened with a 44-26 victory over Hayden. The Mustangs will ride a six-game winning streak against Rangely into Saturday’s contest with the Panthers. Rangely has been held to eight points or fewer in each of the last four games with West Grand.

Rangely brings in a hungry squad that has outscored its first two opponents 102-12, including a 56-12 league win over Soroco last week. The Panthers piled up 387 rushing yards in that win, with Zane Varner leading the way. The junior ran for 188 yards and a touchdown, while senior Anthony Lujan added 97 yards and two scores. Keihlin Myers added three rushing TDs. Defensively, Rangely held the Rams to just 138 yards of offense, all on the ground.

Sixth-ranked Merino nearly racked up its second straight shutout to begin the season, as the Rams ran past rival Caliche 48-6 last Saturday. The Rams raced out to a 30-0 halftime lead and never let the Buffs find their stride. Merino rolled up 433 rushing yards as a team. Deacon Trenkle provided 200 of those, along with three touchdowns, and Andrew Frank added 186 yards and two TDs.

Dayspring Christian will be looking to get back on track after the loss to Haxtun, in which Christian Still ran for three scores. Still also tossed a TD to Garrett Krehbiel, and had a pick-six on defense. The series between the Eagles and Merino has been a perfect split recently, with each side winning 10. DCA has taken the last two, and seven of the last nine.

For the second straight week, fourth-ranked Mancos put 52 points on the board, as the Bluejays opened Mountain league play with a 52-12 win over Norwood. Ayden Matthews only completed seven of 13 passes in the win, but five of those went for scores. Christian Cove was on the receiving end of three. Chase Moore added 250 yards and three scores on the ground, including a 93-yard romp, and he also had a 40-yard TD catch in the victory. Colt Fury had a monster game on defense, recording 22 tackles. His career-high is 25, set last year.

Sargent (1-1) enters the game needing to right the ship after last week’s 41-12 loss to #8 Dove Creek. The Farmers were outscored 33-6 in the second half of that loss. Dove Creek ran for 366 yards in the game. Kage Pepper missed the game for Sargent due to an injury. The Farmers have dropped two straight to Mancos, after having won the previous five match-ups.

In other games this Friday, Dove Creek and Sanford both look to stay unbeaten, with the Bulldogs hosting Sangre de Cristo and Sanford visiting Norwood. Byers travels to Calhan for a non-league clash of 1-1 Bulldogs, and #2 Fowler, who has outscored its first two opponents 92-6, visits 0-2 Springfield.

Saturday has 1-1 Swink visiting a 1-1 Dolores Huerta Prep in the Southern league. It’s the league opener for the Scorpions, while Swink cannot afford an 0-2 start in league play.

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