Class 3A State Football Preview: Tigers to get tough test from Canon City
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SUMMIT COUNTY ” It’ll be a true cat fight when the Summit High football team travels to Canon City for a first-round matchup in the Class 3A State Playoffs, Saturday. The No. 9 Tigers from Farmer’s Korner will test their dominant defense against the overwhelming rushing attack of the No. 5 Tigers to the south.
“It’ll be a battle, that’s for sure,” Summit senior fullback/middle linebacker Jordan Sitkoski said of the road game. “Just going out there and knocking heads, it’ll be brutal and it’ll be fun.”
In what appears to be one of the best first-round matchups in the 16-team playoffs, Summit (9-1) needs to do its best to impede CCHS runner Damon McCain. This will be no small task, as McCain is the 3A leading rusher with 2,483 yards in only 10 games. No team has held him to under 135 yards.
“He’s pretty much their whole offense,” senior tailback/safety Talon Roggasch said. “They run a zone scheme run game. So, if we stick to our jobs, we should be able to stop it pretty well.”
Summit may have the defense to do it. In their final regular season game, Summit held Elizabeth H.S. to negative total yards in the first half and forced four turnovers.
But that wasn’t against one of the state’s best rushers.
“We just need to slow him down.” SHS head coach Dylan Hollingsworth said. “I don’t think you can completely stop the kid.”
The bigger problem may be the amount of clock that the Canon City offense can literally run off. Meaning, SHS will need to take advantage of their offensive possessions.
“We have to take care of the ball and not have mistakes and penalties,” Hollingsworth said. ” … We can’t afford to be in a situation where we don’t have the ball in our hands offensively.”
Summit’s offense may end up being the ultimate determining factor in Saturday’s outcome.
Roggasch isn’t worried about the ability of his team to just simply outscore Canon City if need be.
“We’ve got weapons from everywhere on the field,” he said. “Out of the backfield, at tight end, wide receiver, everywhere. We can score from any place on the field.”
Though it may look like SHS drew the short end of the stick for a first-round opponent, the same could be said for Canon City. Summit’s only loss came in a turnover-filled outing against Conifer H.S., Oct. 17, a game the team could certainly have pulled out. The rest of their schedule included dominating wins over No. 4 D’Evelyn and Elizabeth, and a thrilling last-minute victory over Centaurus early in the year. All three teams made the playoffs.
“Either way, you have to face hard teams in the playoffs, because it’s the best teams in the state,” Sitkoski said of the seeding. “I don’t think it matters where you start off.”
Sitkoski echoed the sentiments of the entire team in that the only thing that matters is the end result.
“It helps knowing that this could be our last game ever,” Sitkoski said of his team’s motivation. “We don’t want that to happen. We want to end on a state championship; that’s everyone’s goal.”
Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. at Canon City High School.
Bryce Evans can be reached at (970) 668-4634 or at bevans@
Roosevelt (6-4) at No. 1 Glenwood Springs (10-0)
Game plan: It will be a mental hurdle for Glenwood Springs to get past the first round, as last season the Demons entered the postseason 10-0 but were upset 28-27 by unheralded Sterling. Roosevelt is a similar squad to Sterling, but the injury-plagued Roughriders have dropped their past three games, scoring only 18 points in the process. Roosevelt averages only 15 points a game, which won’t get it done against the Demons, who average 42 points a contest.
Extra point: Glenwood Springs quarterback Dakota Stonehouse has thrown only one interception this season against 13 touchdown passes.
No. 8 Berthoud (8-2) at Centaurus (8-2)
Game plan: Defending champion Berthoud hit a rough patch in the middle of the season with two narrow losses, but the Spartans are as much contenders as anyone with quarterback Jordan Major and running back Bryce Mu’oz still in the fold. Defensive-minded Centaurus undoubtedly will benefit from having a home game, where the Warriors have gone 5-0 this year. Power running back Derek Wetzel guides the offense.
Extra point: The Centaurus defense, which allows 10.4 points a game, has held four opponents to single digits this season. Only one opponent, Conifer, has cracked 20 points.
No. 7 Steamboat Springs (8-2) at Pueblo County (7-3)
Game plan: Steamboat Springs’ seemingly magical season ended with an emphatic thud, as the Sailors were stomped 47-0 by Glenwood Springs in the regular-season finale. It remains to be seen if the Sailors and quarterback Austin Hinder can put that loss behind them as the postseason begins. Pueblo County has won five straight since being shut out by Pueblo East on Sept. 25, and the Jeff Wilson-coached Hornets have gone 4-1 at home this season.
Extra point: Steamboat Springs had scored 186 points in four wins before the shutout loss. The Sailors have produced more than 60 points twice.
Pueblo East (7-3) at No. 6 Mountain View (9-1)
Game plan: The drop from 4A has been a boon for Mountain View, as the Mountain Lions enter the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak. The Lions aren’t shy about putting the ball in the air, and quarterback Logan Moore likes to spread it around to several different receivers. Pueblo East, which also dropped from 4A, has won five of six after a 2-2 start. The Eagles heavily rely on quarterback Jordan Ward (13 touchdown passes, 750 rushing yards).
Extra point: Mountain View, perhaps more than any team in the postseason, likes to get everyone involved. Thirteen players have carried the ball this season and 13 have caught a pass.
Windsor (6-4) at No. 10 Conifer (8-2)
Game plan: Conifer is a dual threat with the passing of Craig Fowler and the running of Willie Hayes (1,048 yards, 19 TDs). Both of Conifer’s losses were against teams ranked in the top five (Glenwood Springs and D’Evelyn). Stephen Theiss gives the Lobos a top-notch possession receiver as well as a deep threat. Windsor is back on track after a three-game losing streak and relies on the ground game supplied by running backs Conner Glenn and Sam Collentine.
Extra point: After being held to 14 points in its opener against Glenwood Springs, Conifer has exceeded 20 points in every game and surpassed 40 four times.
No. 4 D’Evelyn (9-1) at No. 3 Palisade (9-1)
Game plan: This is a matchup better suited for the semifinals, as one tremendously talented squad will be at home after the first round. Each is an offensive juggernaut, as D’Evelyn averages 43 points and Palisade 37.5, and each outscore their opponents by more than 25 points a game. Palisade isn’t as flashy as the Jaguars, but perhaps more smashmouth with an Aaron Wagler-led defense and the bruising running of Travis Fehlman.
Extra point: D’Evelyn has two 1,000-yard rushers in quarterback Garrett Griffeth (1,140) and running back Steve Sanchez (1,002). Griffeth also has thrown for 2,260 yards and 23 TDs.
Elizabeth (7-3) at No. 2 Fort Morgan (10-0)
Game plan: Fort Morgan might be from the eastern part of the state, but the Mustangs are cut from the mold of a Western Slope League team. They are a defensive-minded, grind-it-out unit that thrives on the running of stout running back Chris Cobbley (1,457 yards, 13 TDs). After key graduation losses, Elizabeth opened the playbook a bit with quarterback Ethan McKinney and was a relatively balanced team offensively.
Extra point: Possible dubious stat for Elizabeth against the staunch Fort Morgan defense: the Cardinals were limited to less than 10 points in all three of their losses.
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