A clash in the quarterfinals

ALAMOSA — After a successful first round weekend both Centauri and Sanford were able to defend home field, their reward will be a combined 487 miles separating them from their next contests.  Centauri will travel to the Western Slope to meet the Meeker Cowboys, Sanford will be in Colorado Springs for a game against Pikes Peak Christian.

1A – 11/16 Sat. 1 p.m.

4. Meeker vs. 5. Centauri

Fourth-quarter heroics helped the Falcons stun Flatirons Academy and extend their season another week. Centauri posted all 28 of their points in the fourth quarter taking their first and final lead with a little more than a minute remaining in the game.

This week the challenge will be pushed up a notch for the Falcons (9-1). Saturday will bring together two defenses that performed pretty comparably during the regular season. Both teams allow a little over 10 points per game, Meeker (9-1) forced two shutouts while Centauri forced three. In their first games of the postseason, both teams allowed +20 points.

The similarities don’t seem to stop there. Offensively, both the Falcons and Cowboys lean towards the running game. Centauri runs the ball at a 29-71 split while Meeker hands the ball off on 64 percent of recorded plays. That’s seemingly where the likenesses end. Whereas Centauri’s runs come from a more traditional offense with a mobile quarterback, Meeker’s stats suggest that the Cowboys have a quarterback that is an active part of the running game.

From under center, the Cowboys like to mix it up. With 34 attempts in 9 games, Brayden Garcia figures to come in for 3-4 pass attempts on Saturday. But rather ran a wrinkle in the offense, Garcia may actually be a tell.  With 271 yards and 4 touchdowns passing compared to just 28 yards rushing, Garcia is a low flight risk and the defense can count on a pass when No. 11 enters play.

Ryan Phelan will be getting the bulk of the passing work on Saturday. Phelan is dangerous for offenses with his arm and his legs. The Meeker junior has gone 150 of 265 for 2,442 yards and 21 touchdowns passing. Phelan’s impact in the running game may be more pronounced as the field shrinks. He has picked up 236 yards rushing and leads the team with 9 touchdowns.

The majority of the carries go to Jeremy Woodward and Kelton Turner who combine for 1,394 yards and 15 touchdowns. Meeker does a good job playing mistake-free football turning the ball over just 7 times during the regular season. The defense gives the offense plenty of opportunities, harrying quarterbacks for 16 team sacks and forcing 22 turnovers, led by Turner’s 7 interceptions. Centauri will need to keep the mistakes down and start fast against the Cowboys.

A win on Saturday will grant Centauri a homecoming, Centauri is set to host the winner of 1. Strasburg vs. 8. Highland – should the Falcons advance to the semifinals.

8-Man – 11/16 1 p.m.

2. Sanford vs. 7. Pikes Peak Christian

Sanford took over their first-round contest with Holly eventually routing the visiting Wildcats. Sophomore Kelton Gartrell ran wild posting 4 scores for the home team in the win. Second-seeded Sanford (10-0) will continue their campaign for the state title with a road contest against the Pikes Peak Christian Eagles (9-1). Pikes Peak Christian is fresh off their victory over Sargent, a game where Pikes Peak flexed at what they do best. Runners Hudson Grant and Nathan Seay both eclipsed 100 yards rushing. Quarterback Jackson Thorne completed three passes, all of which went for touchdowns to Grant. And the defense forced 6 turnovers.

It’s Sanford’s turn to try and contain the pair of Seay and Grant. Sanford’s defense will likely be equal to the task as they allowed just 8.5 points per game during the regular season. Against postseason teams Sanford has also done very well with that number increasing to 14.6 points per game. The increase might be alarming for some but not when the Sanford offense scores like it does.

Sanford piled it on for an average 44.6 margin of victory during the regular season. A big reason for that explosive offense is sophomore rusher, Kelton Gartrell. In 6 recorded games, Gartrell has terrorized defenses for 835 yards and 16 touchdowns. Gartrell is a home run waiting to happen and boasts a mind-blowing 20 yards per carry in that span. For defenses, allowing a first down to Gartrell is a best-case scenario.

Sanford will be going up against an Eagles defense that has allowed 6 points per game during the regular season and is currently allowing 13.3 points a game to teams that made the postseason. Both defenses are good in the turnover department. Sanford has tallied 17 takeaways; Pikes Peak Christian has 28.

With a win, Sanford will look to the other end of the quadrant for where they go next. A Fowler (10-0) win would keep Sanford on the road next week, a Mancos (9-1) upset would mean that Sanford would get to host Mancos for the second time this season.


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