Football Playoff Preview (8man, 2A & 3A)

Spring football playoffs open the week with state quarterfinals in all five classifications.  Winners advance to the state semifinals next week and Colorado Preps looks at all the matchups in eight-man, Class 2A and Class 3A.



#1 Hoehne – BYE

SAT/2:00pm:  #4 Plateau Valley vs #5 Justice

FRI/7:00pm:  #3 John Mall vs #6 Custer County

#2 Front Range Christian – BYE

Both games on tap this week are rematches from the regular season and neither were that close.  Plateau Valley topped Justice 40-14 and John Mall handled Custer County 60-0.  Those results make the Cowboys and Panthers heavy favorites to advance.

Plateau Valley ran for 187 yards and three touchdowns in their win over Justice.  Dalton Crites picked up 73 and Colton Witzel 66.  Each reached the end zone.  Ceal Etcheverry also returned an interception for a TD.  That win was part of a 2-4 regular season for Plateau Valley.  One of the losses came against Hoehne (58-0) but the Cowboys get a rematch with the Farmers with a win on Saturday.

John Mall ran for 314 yards and seven touchdowns in their win over Custer County.  Ricardo Bobian, with 133 yards and three scores, did a lot of the damage offensively.  Ben Stafford ran for 49 yards in the loss and the freshman led Custer County on the season with 346 yards rushing.  The Bobcats were outscored 258-20 on the season with all 20 points coming in a loss to Justice (28-20).



FRI/7:00pm:  #1 Buena Vista vs #8 Clear Creek

FRI/7:00pm:  #4 Manitou Springs vs #5 Manual

SAT/1:00pm:  #2 Flatirons Academy vs #7 St Mary’s

FRI/4:30pm:  #3 Estes Park vs #6 Grand Valley

The top half of the bracket feature regular season rematches won by Buena Vista and Manitou Springs so the Demons and Mustangs are expected to advance based on earlier wins.  Flatirons Academy and Estes Park are favored to grab lower bracket wins but each could get tested against quality opponents.

Buena Vista (5-0) outscored opponents 215-21 on the season including a 42-0 shutout of Clear Creek (0-6) on April 9th.  The Demons defense forced four turnovers and limited the Golddiggers to 26 yards rushing and 36 passing.  Seth Moss, with 12 tackles, led the defensive effort.  On offense, nine players had at least one rushing attempt; a group led by Jacob Phelps with 95 yards and a TD.

Manitou Springs (4-1) rolled Manual 44-14 just last week so both teams are very familiar with each other.  The Thunderbolts (3-3) mustered just 149 yards of total offense and didn’t get on the scoreboard until the third quarter.  They trailed 31-0 at the time as the Mustangs controlled both sides of the ball from the onset.

Flatirons Academy (5-0) allowed just 39 points all season including just 13 over the final four.  Jacob Dube is the main offensive threat; throwing for 638 yards with 13 TD’s and rushing for a team high 257 yards and five scores.  Trevor Ryan added 250 yards rushing and Deverick Dow 236.  Trenton Rowan is the top pass catcher with 19 receptions.  Ryan was also the top tackler with 30 stops.

St Mary’s (3-2) scored all three of their wins against winless opponents; downing Ellicott, Roaring Fork and Clear Creek.  They’ll look to run the football behind the tandem of Everett Ellis (490 yards) and Kolbe Vostatek (391) who combined for 881 yards and seven touchdowns.

Estes Park (4-2) lost to Flatirons Academy (27-26) to open the season and to Buena Vista (42-18) to close.  In between, they rolled four opponents 158-32.  Most of their offense comes through the air with Collin Reetz throwing for 1,784 yards and 17 TD’s.  He totaled at least 244 yards in each game this year.  JD McCown grabbed 60 receptions with 11 touchdowns and Braden Moore added 43 catches with three scores.

Grand Valley (3-3) looks to keep that offense off the field by churning out yardage on the ground.  Emilio Garcia led that effort with 629 yards and six scores through the regular season.  Steven Hicks, with 373 yards and five scores, was also a factor in the run game.  The Cards though have not beaten a team with a win this year as they knocked off Ellicott once and Roaring Fork for their three wins.



SAT/3:00pm:  #1 Glenwood Springs vs #8 Northfield

SAT/1:00pm:  #4 Rifle vs #5 Academy

SAT/1:00pm:  #3 Basalt vs #6 Sand Creek

SAT/1:00pm:  #2 Classical Academy vs #7 Aspen

Playoff pairings worked out well in this division as it’s East versus West in the first round and none of the four quarterfinals are rematches from the regular season.  Glenwood Springs (6-0) and Classical Academy (4-0) are the two unbeaten teams from the regular season and they are the top two seeds in the bracket.

Glenwood likely earned the top seed based on a strong schedule that saw them beat both #3 Basalt and #4 Rifle in the regular season.  Both wins were by seven points as the Demons enter the playoffs battle tested.  Averaging 279 yards per game on the ground, the Demons want to run the football.  Blake Nieslanik picks up nearly 10 yards per attempt and finished regular season play with 769 yards and eight scores.  Garrett Dollahan added 506 yards and three scores.

Northfield (3-3) did not score a win over a team that made the playoffs.  Their best victory likely came against Faith Christian as they downed the Eagles 16-8 in overtime.  Losses are all quality as they dropped decisions to Classical Academy, Sand Creek and Academy.

Could be a very good game between Rifle (4-2) and Academy (5-1) on Saturday as the teams combined for nine wins on the year.  Rifle lost late to Glenwood Springs and the setback to Basalt left them as the fourth seed but they still get the benefit of playing at home.  Academy’s only loss came to Classical Academy (41-12) but they also downed playoff clubs Sand Creek (30-28) and Northfield (28-12).  Isaiah Elliott was crucial in both wins; he threw for 213 yards and ran for 115 yards against Sand Creek and added another 96 passing and 124 rushing against Northfield.  Overall, he was involved in eight touchdowns.

Against Rifle, the Academy defense will need to be stout up front against a Bears attack earning 330 yards on the ground.  Kaden Wolf (526 yards), Toto Fletchall (489) and Embrey Marantino (290) can all carry the load and together have scored 17 touchdowns.

Another good pairing has Basalt at home against Sand Creek with both teams finishing up the regular season at 5-1.  Basalt was likely very close to nabbing the top overall seed as their lone blemish came against Glenwood Springs where they gave up a touchdown in the final 20 seconds.  Sand Creek did not face Classical Academy in the eastern division and enters the playoffs with a three-game winning streak where they outscored opponents 139-0.  Their lone loss is against Academy (30-28).

Caleb Kruse and Greg Garnett are the top offensive threats for Sand Creek.  Kruse threw for 1,285 yards and 21 touchdowns.  Garnett led the Scorpions in rushing with 482 yards and six scores and receiving with 37 catches for 773 yards and a whopping 13 scores.

Basalt QB Matty Gillis threw for 627 yards and seven scores and added another 267 yards and eight TD’s on the ground.  Gavin Webb totaled 772 yards and 11 scores rushing.  On defense, the Longhorns produced 23 turnovers through six games.  Clayton Daniel led the club with 33 tackles with Trevin Beckman and Sam Sherry with 32 apiece.

Classical Academy (4-0) beat four opponents by a combined score of 194-19 but due to forfeits, have played just two games since the end of March.  They topped Academy 41-12 and Kent Denver 49-0 in April so they should be well rested.  Cade Palmer is the first option on offense as he managed 535 yards and 11 TD’s in just four games.  Both totals represent about half of the team’s overall total.  On defense, Josh Snyder has 35 tackles and Ethan Brunk 28 for a group that collected eight turnovers.

Aspen made the playoffs with their 20-13 win over Coal Ridge last week.  They rallied with 12 fourth quarter points to spring the mild upset.


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