This weekend will kick off the opening of football state playoffs. Bittersweet news for fans of southern San Luis Valley football. Both Centauri and Sanford played great all regular season and will be hosting their round 1 opponents, unfortunately for those hoping to see both games Sanford and Centauri will be playing at the same time on the same day. Sargent meanwhile will go on the road.
1A State Playoffs – Round 1
11/9 12. Flat Irons at. 5. Centauri, 1 p.m.
In 2017 the Falcons made it to the big game, a contest that saw double overtime before Strasburg came away successful. Last year Centauri met Strasburg again, this time in the semifinals, another contest that went to the visitors.
As they’ve done the past two years, it is now November and the Falcons (8-1) will begin their climb to the top of the state. The first step towards that begins on Saturday against Flatiron Academy’s Bison (6-3).
The Bison get a pretty good look at talent as the year wears on, playing in the Northern League. A league that houses two more postseason teams in Strasburg (9-0), and Highland (6-3). The Bison were 1-1 against their two league opponents.
The Bison much like their namesake are grounded. The Bison run the ball on 75 percent of recorded snaps. Quarterback Jacob Dube leading the team in rushing suggests a run/pass option style offense. With his legs, Dube has collected 603 yards and 8 touchdowns, with his arm he has been equally dangerous with 599 yards and 7 touchdowns. Behind Dube, fellow senior Deverick Dow has shown a nose for the end zone. Dow has scored 10 touchdowns thus far this season, 8 rushing and 2 receiving.
Any struggles for the Bison would likely stem from turnovers. Offensively Flatirons has lost 7 fumbles, perhaps more alarming is the 11 they didn’t lose. Expect the Falcons to gain an extra possession or two when the Bison put it on the ground.
Defensively the Bison have done their best to make up for their mistake-prone offense. The Flatiron defense has claimed 9 fumbles and 5 interceptions bringing their turnover difference to +4. Centauri can usually be counted on to play rather mistake-free football. Look for the Bison to live or die by the turnover. Should the Falcons win, they will go on the road in the quarterfinals against either Meeker (8-1) or Buena Vista (6-3).
8-Man State Playoffs – Round 1
11/9 15. Holly at 2. Sanford, 1 p.m.
Completing a regular season undefeated is tough, doing it in a district that sends three teams to the postseason is tougher. Expectations are high for Sanford’s squad. But the boys in green have continually raised to meet those expectations. What Sanford (9-0) has been able to accomplish under head coach Joe Cary is nothing short of impressive. In the two years before Cary taking over, Sanford was 5-13, since then Sanford is 15-3. For his efforts, Cary was awarded Denver Broncos Coach of the Week following his squad’s bruising beat down of Mancos this year on Oct. 11. Now Sanford football will be going back to the 8-Man playoffs for the first time since 2013. The first squad on the slate will be the Holly Wildcats.
The Wildcats (6-3) seem better than their record would suggest, as two of those losses came to No. 3 Fowler and No. 5 Day Spring Christian Academy. The third was to an out of state powerhouse St. Francis (9-0). According to MaxPreps, St. Francis is the No. 1 Eight-Man Football team in Kansas. That said the Wildcats have not beaten any playoff teams, their highest ranking victory was No. 20 Hoehne.
Holly specializes in diversity on offense. Passing, the Wildcats have seen 5 different quarterbacks with a passing attempt. The primary passing threat seems to be Dakota Eaton. Eaton has gone 126 for 1,580 yards and 15 touchdowns, his primary target being Alex Ramos. Ramos leads the team in receiving with 722 yards and 8 touchdowns.
The Wildcat running game will likely be tough to gameplan due to its flexibility. Holly boasts four different rushers clearing 300 yards this season. Three of those rushers – Eaton, Donovan Pecina, and Andy Ramos, average better than 8 yards per carry.
On defense, the Wildcats post some pretty scary numbers. Senior Grayden Flint has posted 14 of the Wildcat’s team 22.5 sacks. When Holly isn’t abusing passers they’re taking the ball away, based on recorded stats the Wildcats have taken 9 interceptions and recovered 10 fumbles for a +12 turnover difference.
Sanford will be looking for the return of senior Clay Canty, who suffered a leg injury in the victory over Sargent. If Sanford wins they will go on the road for the quarterfinals at Sargent (6-3) or Pike Peak Christian (8-1).
11/9 10. Sargent at
7. Pikes Peak Christian, 1 p.m.
Sargent (6-3) has shown time and again they are a hard-nosed squad. Facing adversity at the beginning of the season with a less than favorable 2-2 record, the Farmers rallied to take four straight. Part of that rally was the victory over then-ranked Dove Creek. A large part of the reason why the Farmers are in the postseason and not Dove Creek. Now the Farmers have some new adversity to deal with. Suffering a 51-0 shutout from rival Sanford was not ideal, entering the postseason seeded in the bottom eight and being forced to go on the road wasn’t part of the plan.
The Farmers will have to go to Colorado Springs to face the Pikes Peak Christian Eagles (8-1) come Saturday. The Eagles are something of a mystery when you look at their schedule. While the 8 wins are impressive, two of those wins came by forfeit. Also, the Eagles have faced two playoff-caliber teams, and lost to one. Pike Peak Christian fell 18-6 to No. 8 Merino on Aug. 30.
The Eagles are a running team, handing it off on 79 percent of plays. Sargent will likely have two players to worry about when they sit down to gameplan, Nathan Seay and Hudson Grant. Seay has run for 1,052 yards averages 10.7 yards per carry. Seay accounts for 16 touchdowns thus far this season. Grant has run for 481 yards and 8 touchdowns in addition to 223 yards and 7 touchdowns receiving. Grant has also picked up 16 scores meaning the senior pair combine for 32 of the Eagle’s 45 recorded touchdowns this season. On defense the Eagles have very sticky fingers recording 22 takeaways, 9 of those are credited to Seay and Grant.
Sargent will be fighting to get home, a win over the Eagles on Saturday would net the Farmers a trip home to face Sanford (9-0) or Holly (6-3).