Arguably the area’s best football matchup is back for a Saturday matinee performance as Class 3A No. 1 Palmer Ridge hosts 4A No. 1 Pine Creek.
Last year the season-opening clash attracted more than 3,000 fans to D-20 Stadium with the Eagles claiming a 27-12 victory over the future 3A champions.
But this year, both teams have had an opportunity to shake off the rust and are in mid-season form.
"We've been very excited about this game," Palmer Ridge coach Tom Pulford said. "I think it's something good for our area, especially in north Colorado Springs to see these two teams play is a big deal."
Palmer Ridge enters Saturday’s game undefeated, while Pine Creek is 3-1 with its only loss coming against 5A No. 3 Valor Christian.
"You do your best to prepare for every opportunity and we did that with our (past games)," Pulford said. "But Pine Creek is well coached and a good competitor and we're excited about the opportunity."
Through four games, Palmer Ridge has outscored opponents 172-27. Last week, it held off its biggest test in 4A, coming from behind to beat No. 3 Pueblo South, thanks to 118 yards and three touchdowns by senior running back Raef Ruel.
The same night Pine Creek bounced back from its Week 3 loss to Valor with a 41-13 win over Pueblo West off of a 202-yard and four-touchdown night for David Moore III.
The Pine Creek offense is typical of what fans have come to expect, led by Moore, the 5-foot-8, 186-pound senior who has averaged 194.8 yards per game and has 10 rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Gavin Herberg returns with a .565 completion percentage and 11 passing touchdowns this season. He averages 143.9 yards passing.
In preparing to face Palmer Ridge the Eagles will need to be ready for two potential quarterbacks.
Palmer Ridge starter Luke McAllister has been absent for the last two games, but had a .643 completion percentage, and averaged more than 150 yards in the Bears’ first two games. Since, senior wide receiver Deuce Roberson has stepped in under center with a .575 completion percentage, 325 yards and has thrown for five touchdowns.
Roberson has also rushed for a combined 243 yards in games he has appeared at quarterback.
Ruel leads the Bears ground game with 373 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Eagle offense is ranked fourth in the state with 2012 total yards and leads in yards per game with 503.
Palmer Ridge is ranked fourth in the state with nine interceptions, and leads in interception yards with 267. Kaden Dudley, Anthony Costanzo and Kieran Fry have two interceptions each.
At last year's clash at D-20 Stadium, officials estimated more than 3,000 fans were in attendance. Capacity at Don Breese Stadium is 2,800.
"I guess the contingency plan is to get there early, or you're standing," Pulford said.