There are certainly some interesting questions to be answered this week for Kiowa coach Mark Clemmons as his Indians open Class A, 8-man state playoff action.
Clemmons feels his team is coming off its worst game of the season although it was a 40-13 victory against visiting Rangely in last Saturday’s Black Forest League crossover game. Not only that, but the Indians had to play much of the game without running back Joe Jantz, who went down with an injury.
Kiowa did improve to 8-1 with the victory and will host Sargent in their first round playoff game. Sargent enters the playoffs with a 7-2 record having lost only to top-ranked Dayspring Christian and Dove Creek.
“I feel that we played our worst game of the season,” Clemmons said. “We were able to recover in the second half. The bad thing is that we lost Joe in the first quarter when he was hit low on his leg. He didn’t play the rest of the game and we don’t know the total situation until after he sees the doctor on Monday.
“Joe has been a force for us this year with 989 yards rushing,” Clemmons said. “It’s just frustrating and we hope he will be able to play. He is such a big part of our team.
“We moved Lonny Trehal to halfback and he stepped up and scored three touchdowns for us,” Clemmons said. “We trailed 13-12 in the first half and for the game we had seven fumbles. But we were able to recover in the second half, scored 20 points in the third quarter, and were able to come out with the win.”
Quarterback Steven Mitzak completed 13-of-25 passes for 234 yards, was intercepted once, but didn’t connect for a single touchdown pass through the air. Leading the way among the receivers was Jack Thomas, who caught just three passes for 110 yards. Trehal caught four for 44 yards while Michael Bates caught three for 49 yards.
“On the positive side the defense played one of their best games of the year,” Clemmons said. “Jordan Gebhart had three sacks and Connor Wills was doing very well, too (17 tackles). Cole Hoffman and Jordan had great games. They created havoc for our opponents and we put their backs to the wall. Our defense has certainly been playing a lot better. Outside our loss to Elbert, it has been a great season. Now, we just hope that we are able to get Joe back and play strong in the playoffs.”
Elbert defeated Vail Christian, 54-14, and will host Haxtun (5-4) in its first playoff game. The Bulldogs of coach Shawn Graves enter the first round of the state playoffs with a 9-0 record, the best at this stage of the season for the team in the school’s history. Haxtun comes in 5-4.
Elbert carries the number four seed into the playoffs. Dayspring Christian has the top seed, followed by Hoehne in the number two spot and Akron with the number three position.
Blake Nicholas has been stellar for Elbert this season as he has rushed for over 1,500 yards, carrying a glittering 11.6 yards per carry average. He has also passed for 652 yards and 12 touchdowns. Yet he has had some fine help in the backfield as Al Zelney has contributed with 386 yards on the ground, Cody Pranger with 334. Balance, definitely has been a key for the Bulldogs.
On the receiving end for the Bulldogs, Roger Carlson and Bryce Hutchens have been able to stand out with 386 and 334 yards, respectively.
Haxtun, seeded number 13 for the playoffs, defeated Longmont Christian, 57-13, to advance and play Elbert.
Simla, coached by Shane Zimmerman, saw the season come to a disappointing end as the Cubs were beaten by Hayden, 52-12. The Tigers led the Cubs, 32-12 at the half and they just couldn’t bounce back.
Hayden quarterback, Mark Doolin had a solid day completing 14-of-23 passes for 200 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed 17 times for 161 yards of the teams total 185 yards on the ground. The Tigers will travel to play Akron, seeded number three for the playoffs.
Akron has been strong this season with it’s running game and not bad in passing. Levi Hottinger has rushed for 1,122 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. At quarterback, Jared Clarkson has completed 51-of-87 for 863 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has only been intercepted once.
Elizabeth defeated Skyview, 48-7, to improve to 6-3 on the season and 4-0 in the 3A Metro East League. The Cardinals of coach Chris Cline will close out the regular season against Weld Central on Friday. Skyview has yet to win this season, falling to 0-9 while Elizabeth has now won it’s last six games.
Elizabeth led 37-0 at the half. Over the course of the game they held the Wolverines to only 49 yards rushing and 112 passing.
Weld Central, 4-5, 3-1 in the league, has a fairly balanced running game. The Rebels have been led this season by Carson DeGroot, who has 537 yards on the ground. He is followed by Cody Brown and Tyler Nebelsick, each of whom have rushed for 409 yards.