Small-school football will get a large portion of the spotlight this weekend, as the cities of Pueblo and Grand Junction are getting set to host championships for Class 2A, 1A, 8-man and 6-man.

Semifinal results forged a path for two teams with the potential to repeat as champions — Limon in 1A and Stratton in 6-man — while Delta is back in the state championship round after falling in 2022’s title game. Rifle, Strasburg, Mancos, Haxtun and Cheyenne Wells are no strangers to the scene, either, with reasonably recent appearances in the finale.

The food comas of Thursday will parlay into the ultimate weekend of fellowship for these groups of kids around the state the two days after. The CHSAA recently made a change in venue for the 2A game, with the Delta-Rifle championship set for Saturday at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction. All other games will be played at the CSU-Pueblo ThunderBowl.

Ultimately, these championship games will come down to preparation against familiar foes. At each level, the matchups are coming full-circle after playing once in the 2023 regular season.

Class 2A

Delta vs. Rifle, Saturday, 1 p.m.

Hanging in the balance: Delta’s only football championship came in 1960 and it is looking to take the next step after falling in the title game last year and in 2019. Rifle has five state football championships in its trophy case, the last earned in 2017.

The task at hand: For Delta, it’s to finally get over the hump as twice in the past four years the Panthers have fallen in the championship game. They take on Rifle for a second time this season after the teams played to a 28-7 final back on Sept. 15. Ty Reed had one of his best games of the season that day (14-for-20 passing for 186 yards and a TD; 103 rushing yards and 3 TDs), and there’s no reason to think Delta would veer away from utilizing every ounce of his energy once again on Saturday. Both teams played exceptional defense in the semis, as Rifle finally ended Eaton’s dominant run of three straight championships by holding the Reds to 15 points. A lot of Bears will have personal motivation to perform better this second time around against DHS, perhaps no more so than Isaac Valencia, who is coming off a 100-yard rushing game last week but was held to a season-low 29 total yards in that previous matchup.

Class 1A

Limon vs. Strasburg, Saturday, noon

Hanging in the balance: Limon is within reach of its 22nd football title, the most in Colorado annals by far. Strasburg is hunting title No. 5 in the sport.

The task at hand: For Limon, the mindset is pretty much just ‘do what you do this time of year’ with an impressive all-time title-game record. Also in Limon’s favor is the confidence garnered from a 49-21 win over the Indians back on Sept. 8 in which five different players scored touchdowns for the Badgers. Strasburg will desperately seek a reversal of fortunes against LHS — Limon has won the past five matchups — while leaning on its defense to keep the game tight like it did last week against Wray. The Indians notched 9.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions to help the senior-heavy group score a memorable win.


Mancos vs. Haxtun, Friday, 5 p.m.

Hanging in the balance: Haxtun could add football championship No. 9 with a win. Mancos, after losing to Haxtun in the 2021 title tilt, is still battling for its first-ever football championship.

The task at hand: Getting the chance to play under the lights and possibly in the snow Friday night, which may muck things up a little bit, Mancos will look to start a little bit hotter than it did last week against Lyons (the Bluejays finished rather well with a huge fourth quarter) and avenge a Sept. 16 loss to the Bulldogs (28-22 final score). Haxtun will aim for a strong defensive start similar to its semifinal against Simla, where Zach Statz led the defensive charge with four tackles for loss (two sacks) and an interception — one of four for the team in the win over the Cubs. If they can mirror that effort, they might have a chance to stop Kail Wayman and company.


Stratton vs. Cheyenne Wells, Friday, noon

Hanging in the balance: Cheyenne Wells finally broke through in 2021 with its first and only state football championship, while Stratton has a grand total of nine trophies, either as Stratton (seven) or as a combined program with Liberty (two).

The task at hand: Cheyenne Wells has certainly grown as a team over the course of the season, and that will help in it trying not to remember anything at all about a 65-16 loss suffered at Stratton on Aug. 26. Stratton’s Cyler Notter scored five times in that game and has not looked back since, notching 41 total offensive touchdowns for the season including three more last week against Idalia. He’ll be a focal point of the SHS offense, much like Trey Scheler will be for CWHS. Scheler has 12 TDs in the postseason, 30 overall. That said, Tigers senior QB Perry Chadwick threw for 292 yards in last week’s marathon win against Otis.