Sedgwick County has won the last six championships in eight-man football and the Cougars are again expected to be in the mix. They’re ranked number one in the preseason by the coaches but Sanford, Mancos, Merino and many others hope to challenge SedgCo’s dominance.
Colorado Preps looks at EVERY team in the division with our preseason capsules. Games open this week. Here’s a look at the Mountain Division:
DOVE CREEK BULLDOGS: The fall season saw Dove Creek make another playoff run, eventually falling to Sedgwick County in the semis. Chorbin Cressler will be back after registering 633 yards rushing and 271 passing. He had a hand in 10 touchdowns offensively. The Bulldogs will have to replace his top target, but they return several players who caught at least two passes, so they have options. Blane Johnson is the top returning tackler after finishing second on the team last year with 60 stops. Kade Hankins, Tyson Beanland, and Cressler were all in the top ten for the squad.
MANCOS BLUEJAYS: Mancos got started on the right foot last fall, getting out to a 3-0 start. Things went south down the stretch as they finished with two losses. The latter of those came against division rival Sanford in the opening round of the playoffs. Ayden Matthews is back at QB after throwing for 348 yards and eight touchdowns. He’ll have a workhorse to hand it to, with Chase Moore (1125 yards, 18 TD) back for a senior season. Wayman Kail and Moore are the top tacklers coming back, as they were third and fourth on the team last year. Kail also had a team-high three interceptions as a freshman.
NORWOOD MAVERICKS: In what has been a rarity, Norwood was not in the postseason in 2020. The Mavericks only played four games and went 1-3. Jamar Rankins and Carson Gardner return to fill larger roles on offense after combining for almost 300 yards on the ground. Steele Arnold will give the new QB a top target, as he was second on the squad with seven catches for 218 yards as a freshman. Jarrett Sinks is back to lead the defense after averaging just short of ten tackles a game last season.
SANFORD INDIANS: Sanford came up one win short of capturing the school’s first-ever state title in football, as they were downed by Sedgwick County in the championship game. The Indians scored first and held a 12-8 lead before the Cougars responded with a 72-32 victory. Sanford will have several key pieces returning as it makes another run at school history. QB Josh Holman (642 yards passing, 404 yards rushing) and RB Kelton Gartrell (1322 yards rushing, 23 TD) both return for their senior seasons, but the Indians will need to replace last season’s leading receiver. They also were leaders on defense last year, combining for 179 tackles and six takeaways.
SARGENT FARMERS: The 2020 season got off to a fast start for Sargent, as the Farmers took down Gilpin County. That would be the only trip to the winner’s circle. They finished with four straight losses, all in league play. With Kage Pepper missing most of the season due to injury, Burke Temple stepped in at QB and threw for just over 200 yards, but did not toss a TD and was saddled with six interceptions. The top four runners are gone, making Conner Holmes the top returnee with just 35 yards last season. Holmes and Wyatt Cross tied for fourth on the team with 31 tackles.