Upset-minded Resurrection Christian is set to host a Bayfield team with redemption on its mind.
A year ago, the Bayfield High School football team was the defending Class 2A state champion en route to a state semifinal game at La Junta. Extra points haunted the Wolverines in a 14-13 loss to the eventual state champion Tigers.
This year, Bayfield (11-0) stands as the top-seeded team remaining in the CHSAA Class 2A State Football Playoffs and will play in the semifinals for the fifth time in the last seven years.
The No. 3 Wolverines will load the bus at 8:45 a.m. Friday for a 423-mile trip to Weld County District 6 Stadium at Northridge High School in Greeley. Awaiting the Wolverines will be No. 15 Resurrection Christian, a team rolling after two big upsets in the first two rounds of the playoffs with a 29-21 win at No. 2 Kent Denver in the first round and a 28-25 win against No. 7 Faith Christian in the quarterfinals.
“There are four teams left, and you don’t look at the seed in front of their name now,” BHS head coach Gary Heide said. “It’s go win and try to get to the championship.”
Unlike Bayfield’s last four opponents, the Cougars (7-4) don’t feature a 1,000-yard rusher. Resurrection Christian has a committee of players to get the ball to. Kyle Lueck, a junior, leads the team with 508 rushing yards and four touchdowns with only one 100-yard game this year. Senior Ryan Hecker is second on the team with 283 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and junior Evan King has 222 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
The Cougars have averaged 145.7 yards on the ground per game this season. Isaac Crane is the team’s top passer. He has completed 48 percent of his passes for an average of 91.2 yards per game. He has seven touchdowns to eight interceptions. As a team, the Cougars have 12 TD passes to nine interceptions this season and average 111.3 passing yards per game. It was sophomore Buck Coors at QB last week for the Cougars. He was 11-of-18 passing for 169 yards, two touchdowns and one interception against Faith Christian.
“It looks like they run a lot of motion,” said BHS senior Hunter Killough, who leads the Wolverines with 126 tackles. “They have some semblance to our offense. When they get inside the 20, they run tons of trick plays, and even on 2-point conversions they run a lot of trick plays.”
The Wolverines will have to play assignment defense without one player to key in on. BHS is no stranger to playing option teams, though, and Killough is excited about the matchup.
Defensively, the Cougars present a lot of blitz packages and focus on stopping the run. No Faith Christian running back had more than 41 yards against the Cougars last week, and Faith Christian’s passing game was limited to 64 yards on 9-of-15 passing from Isaiah Kroll.
Kent Denver passed for only 58 yards and ran for only 159 against the Cougars with all three touchdowns coming on the ground. Josh McDonald totaled 102 yards on 20 carries against the Cougars, giving the Wolverines a bit of a model to follow.
“We noticed Kent played pretty sloppy ball,” Killough said after watching film of the Kent Denver game. “No excuses for them, we know Resurrection is a good team. We have to eliminate mistakes against them and play tight football like we have the last two weeks.”
BHS has blown out its opponents to start the playoffs. With a defense riding a streak of four consecutive shutouts, which matches a school record dating back to the start of the 1964 season, Bayfield has wins of 51-0 and 41-0 against No. 14 Elizabeth and No. 6 Basalt, respectively.
The Wolverines lead the state, regardless of classification, with 51 sacks. Ryan Phelps’ 17 are tied for the state lead. Cole Wood has another 11, and Wyatt Killinen is up to nine sacks after two more last week. In all, 10 Wolverines have sacked the quarterback this year. And, if opposing quarterbacks are able to get a pass away, Bayfield has collected 27 interceptions this season with another 10 Wolverines contributing to that total, led by Killough’s six and five each from Carl Heide and Snooks.
Against Basalt, Bayfield junior quarterback Hayden Farmer had a big day with five touchdown passes and 226 yards on 11-of-14 passing. The offense was perfectly balanced, as the Wolverines passed it and ran it 14 times. The rushing attack totaled 102 yards and one touchdown on the day, as David Hawkins led the team with 53 yards and a TD on only four carries.
Keyon Prior and Dax Snooks were all over the field in the passing game last week, as Snooks hauled in five passes for 105 yards and three touchdowns to push his single-season school record to 13 receiving touchdowns. Prior showed he is healthy at the right time with 93 receiving yards on three catches, two of which went for scores.
Farmer exited last week’s win against Basalt with a sprained left ankle. He said he felt fine after the game and put in a solid week of practice and is ready to go this week.
“Hayden’s ankle looks good and he’s ready,” Killough said. “If they focus too much on our run, he’s going to have a great game.”
If the Wolverines can end the Cougars’ streak of upsets, the Class 2A state championship game will be held Nov. 25 in Bayfield. The Wolverines would host the winner of No. 4 La Junta (10-1) and No. 8 Eaton (9-2).
“In the back of our minds, we’ve always felt like that’s what we’d like to give the Bayfield community,” coach Heide said of hosting a title game. “Now that it’s a possibility, it puts a chill down the spine. But we know what we face going up to (Resurrection Christian). We are in the semifinal again where we lost last year, and that’s a real driving force for us.”