Each of this week’s quarterfinal contests features one of the four remaining unbeatens, as all of the top eight seeds advanced out of the opening round. Three of the first round games were shutouts, and only one other was decided by fewer than 30 points. All of the games this week are slated for 1pm Saturday kickoffs, and are listed in bracket order.
#1 SEDGWICK COUNTY COUGARS (10-0) VS #8 MERINO RAMS (7-3)
Sedgwick County posted its third straight shutout, blasting Elbert 60-0 in the opening round. It was the second consecutive win by that score for the Cougars, who ended the regular season with a 60-0 win over Merino. The Cougars got last week’s contest started with a pick-6 on Elbert’s first possession, and the defense would set up three more scores in the half with takeaways, leading to a 44-0 halftime advantage. They would continue to put the offense on a short field after the break, forcing two more turnovers. Sedgwick County’s defense would finish the afternoon with six takeaways in total, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
With only 11 healthy bodies entering the game with West Grand, Merino attempted to play keep-away. They held the ball for more than 39 minutes in the contest, limiting the Mustangs to just 19 offensive snaps in the 14-8 victory. Deacon Trenkle opened the scoring late in the first quarter on a QB keeper, and Andrew Frank made it 8-0 for the Rams with the conversion, but that would only hold up for one play, as the Mustangs tied the game on a 55-yard run and two-point conversion. The teams would stay tied until Trenkle hooked up with Mike Luark for a six-yard TD midway through the third quarter.
The Rams will likely need to employ the same strategy this week in an attempt to slow down the high-powered Cougars. This will be the fourth time the two programs have met in the postseason, with Merino winning 21-12 back in the 2007 second round. Sedgwick County took a 42-6 win in the 2016 quarterfinals, and the Cougars shutout the Rams 32-0 in the semis last year.
#4 VAIL CHRISTIAN SAINTS (10-0) AT #5 DAYSPRING CHRISTIAN EAGLES (9-1)
For the second time in as many games, Vail Christian’s offense put 66 points on the board in the opening round. The Saints found themselves knotted with Dove Creek at 14 when the first quarter ended, but they exploded over the final three periods to claim a 66-30 victory. Chris Cappel ran for three touchdowns and Simon Nowicki added a pair of scores on the ground, while Jamison Lee threw for a TD and ran for another.
Dayspring Christian won a first round game for the first time since 2015, beating Rangely 52-0 last week. It was the second shutout for the Eagles in their last three games. Christian Still threw for 196 yards and three scores and added 92 yards and two touchdowns on the ground for the Eagles, who also got 152 yards and two TDs from Caden Bonnell.
This will be the second postseason meeting between the two, as they also squared off in the 2014 quarterfinals. Dayspring Christian won that clash 42-0. Vail Christian would host in the semifinals with a victory, while Dayspring Christian is on the road next week if it wins this weekend.
#3 FOWLER GRIZZLIES (10-0) AT #6 MANCOS BLUEJAYS (9-1)
In posting a first round shutout of Simla, Fowler held an opponent to a single touchdown or less for the sixth time this season. The Grizzlies, who got more than 200 yards and three scores from Jackson Bates in the running game, did all of their scoring in the first half. Rylee Smith and Luke Bitter each added a rushing touchdown, and Bitter recorded the lone takeaway for the defense with an interception.
Mancos also had a stout defensive effort, holding its seventh opponent of the season to eight points or fewer. The Bluejays allowed only a late third quarter touchdown to Caliche as they beat the Buffs 36-6. Chase Moore powered the Mancos attack, piling up 172 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, while Colt Fury (15 tackles) and Christian Cova (13 tackles) led the defense.
The Grizzlies are in the quarterfinals for only the fourth time since joining eight-man. They reached the semis once in the previous three times. Mancos reached the quarters two years ago. It was the first time the Bluejays had won a first round game since 2002. The two programs have never played in the postseason.
#2 SANFORD INDIANS (10-0) AT #7 PIKES PEAK CHRISTIAN EAGLES (9-1)
Despite allowing two touchdowns after the running clock had been put into play, Sanford has still allowed the fourth fewest points of any team in the classification. The Indians, 58-20 winners over Holly last week, enter the quarterfinals with a 483-88 scoring margin. Only Fowler (87), Pikes Peak Christian (56), and Sedgwick County (42) have allowed fewer points.
Pikes Peak Christian had not allowed an opponent to reach double figures in a contest since the season-opener prior to last week’s 50-14 win over Sargent. The Eagles trailed 7-6 after the first quarter and were down 14-12 late in the first half, before taking the lead for good in the final minute of the half. Jackson Thorne only completed three passes, but all three went for scores to Hudson Grant. Grant also tallied 135 yards and a TD on the ground, and Nathan Seay added 119 yards and another rushing touchdown for the Eagles.
The Eagles are back in the quarterfinals after making it to the semis last season. Sanford picked up its first opening round win since 2013, and just its second since 2008. The Indians have never made it to the semifinals. The winner of this game would host a semifinal match-up with Mancos, but would be on the road if Fowler beats the Bluejays.