SAN LUIS VALLEY—Of all the conferences in the 8-Man division, this race remains the most muddled. Sargent (3-0) leads Sanford and La Veta (both 2-1) by one game in the race but the Farmers cannot clinch the championship this week unless they get a win and Sanford loses at Sangre De Cristo. A win can also wrap up a top two finish for the Farmers if La Veta is upset at Sierra Grande. If La Veta loses and Sanford wins, then the Sargent-Sanford game in week eight will determine the league title and second place.
Should Sanford, Sargent and La Veta all end up on the good side of the scoreboard this week, then they will clinch no worse than a top three finish. Fourth place would then go to the winner of the final week clash between Sangre De Cristo and Sierra Grande. The league again matchups with the Western Conference for cross divisional play. Norwood and Dove Creek should land the top two spots there and host the third and fourth place teams from the Mountain. Mancos is very close to third place with Nucla needing a win over Plateau Valley next week to wrap up fourth.
Of the three leaders, La Veta has the most favorable finishing schedule. They meet Sierra Grande (1-2) this week and then close with Antonito (0-3). Wins in both will let them finish no worse than second place and then they could also earn a piece of the top trophy if Sanford were to upset Sargent in week eight.
Antonito, by our count, is eliminated from the playoff picture. Even with wins in their final two games, the best league finish for the Trojans is 2-3. Since Sierra Grande and Sangre De Cristo play in the final game of the season, at least one of them will finish 2-3 or better and that would eliminate the Trojans since Antonito lost to both during conference play.
Sanford @ Sangre De Cristo, Friday 1 p.m.
La Veta @ Sierra Grande, Friday at 7 p.m.
Antonito @ Sargent, Friday 7 p.m.
Dolores entered league play just 1-3 and had scored just 13 total points in losses to Bayfield, Cedaredge and Paonia. But after surprising Del Norte (13-12) in the conference opener and then following up with a 24-7 win at Center, the Bears are unbeaten and tied with pre-season favorites Monte Vista and Centauri in first place. They face Monte Vista this week and Centauri next and two wins will give them the conference championship. A win in either likely results in a second place finish which would also send them into the post-season.
Cody Carroll has sparked Dolores in league play running for 115 yards against Del Norte and 125 versus Center. The senior had picked up only 140 yards overall in the four games leading into the league slate. Quarterback Kolton Schull has also been sharp. He completed seven of 10 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown against Del Norte and added another scoring pass in last week’s victory over Center.
Against Monte Vista however, defense will be the factor for Dolores and if they can control their running attack. The Pirates, which have won all 12 league games since joining the 1A Southern Peaks, are racking up 366 yards a game including 436 against Ignacio and 367 against Del Norte in conference action. The team is averaging nearly seven yards a carry for the season and surpassed the 2,000 yard level in last week’s win.
Centauri is averaging nearly 44 points over the last three games and is coming off a 48-8 decision over Ignacio. They will be tied with the Monte Vista-Dolores winner if they get by Del Norte as expected. The two teams played last year with Centauri scoring an easy 41-0 win but that was a non-conference game as the Falcons were still in the 2A ranks. This Saturday of course is a league game so emotions will be a bit higher than in year’s past. Del Norte may also be playing to keep their post-season hopes alive so they should amped and ready to go. The Tigers played well for two quarters against Monte Vista last week trailing just 7-6 at intermission but the Pirates controlled the second in finishing with a 40-6 victory.
#9 Monte Vista @ Dolores, Friday 7 p.m.
Center @ Ignacio, Friday 7 p.m.
Centauri @ Del Norte, Saturday 1 p.m.