WEEK 8's TOP AREA GAMES
SAND CREEK (5-2, 2-2) at RAMPART (3-4, 2-2)
7:30 p.m. Thursday, District 20 Stadium
Last week: Sand Creek fell to Pine Creek, 70-27. Rampart beat Liberty, 24-10
The skinny: After a dominating, 4-0 start, Sand Creek has come back down to earth in dropping two of its past three. Last week, the Scorpions allowed six passing touchdowns. That could be music to the ears of Rampart QB Cameron Hacker, who has thrown 19 TD passes, just one off the state lead in all classifications. Sand Creek dropped to No. 18 in the 4A wild-card standings that determine the 16-team playoff field.
DOHERTY (5-2, 3-1) at FOUNTAIN-FORT CARSON (4-3, 4-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Guy Barickman Stadium, Fountain
Last week: Doherty lost at Valor Christian, 42-6. Fountain-Fort Carson outlasted Castle View, 19-17.
The skinny: What gives? In four league games, Fountain-Fort Carson hasn't allowed more than 21 points. It goes up against a Doherty offense that has scored at least 42 points in its league contests. Since moving up from 4A prior to the 2010 season, F-FC has won all three meetings against Doherty. The Spartans haven't won six games in a season since 2006.
MESA RIDGE (4-3, 2-2) at PALMER RIDGE (2-5, 2-2)
7 p.m. Friday, Don Breese Stadium
Last week: Mesa Ridge blasted Cheyenne Mountain, 42-6. Palmer Ridge lost at Pueblo West, 35-22.
The skinny: Last season, Mesa Ridge got hot at the right time, winning three of four to finish the regular season, then advanced all the way to the 4A state semifinals. The Grizzlies, winners of two in a row, will probably have to win their final three (Pueblo Centennial and Pueblo West await) to reach the playoffs this year. They'll hope to stay in contention against a Palmer Ridge team that has won two of three after an 0-4 start.
CORONADO (8-0, 1-0) at WOODLAND PARK (5-2, 1-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Woodland Park High School
Last week: Coronado shut out Lewis-Palmer 28-0. Woodland Park got past Mitchell, 23-20.
The skinny: This game features a pair of teams that have improved dramatically over last year. Coronado went 5-5 in 2012 after a pair of winless seasons. Woodland Park went 3-7 last season after previously bottoming out with an 0-10 season in 2010. The Cougars, who get a bye week before a Nov. 2 showdown with Discovery Canyon, have allowed only 44 points all season as only two teams have managed double-digit scoring.
CUSTER COUNTY (3-4, 2-3) at CSCS (5-2, 4-1)
7 p.m. Saturday, Mountain Lion Stadium at UCCS
Last week: Custer County lost to Rye, 41-8. CSCS pulled away from Salida, 44-27.
The skinny: A few weeks ago, it was Custer County looking the part of contender, while CSCS struggled to a 2-2 start. On Saturday, the Lions can extend their winning streak to four and send the Bobcats to their fourth league loss. CSCS needs a win to keep pace with league leader Buena Vista, which would set up a road showdown Oct. 25 to determine the Tri-Peaks champion.
KEVIN CARMODY, THE GAZETTE