No. 1 Pine Creek Eagles
Game data: No. 1 Pine Creek (10-1) at No. 9 Ponderosa (8-3) … 1 p.m. Saturday at EchoPark Stadium. The winner will face No. 4 Montrose or No. 5 Pueblo West in the state semifinals.
Media: Follow @ChhunSun on Twitter for live updates throughout the game.
Scouting the Mustangs: Ponderosa advanced to Saturday’s date with Pine Creek behind a 16-13 win over No. 8 Skyline in the first round. Defense has been the calling card during a seven-game winning streak. Ponderosa has held opponents to fewer than 20 points in each of those victories.
The Mustangs boast two players with more than 100 tackles. Defensive end/linebacker Ben Beecher leads the way with 135, while lineman James McMahon-Carter has 106. Calvin Silvius isn’t far off with 98 tackles.
If Ponderosa struggles to slow down a dynamic Pine Creek offense, the Mustangs will likely lean on dual-threat quarterback Jack Hanenburg. The junior has passed for more than 1,400 yards with a 15 to 9 touchdown-to-interception ratio with six of those passes going to Joe Hufford. Hanenburg also rushed for 577 yards and 10 touchdowns. The rushing touchdowns are a team best, while junior Cael Porter leads Ponderosa’s ground game with 617 yards.
Scouting the Eagles: Pine Creek enters the quarterfinals on the heels of a 48-13 victory over Longmont. Comfortable wins have become the norm for the Eagles, scoring at least 48 points and holding opponents to 14 or fewer points in each of their last five games played.
The Eagles have scored 40 or more points in every game except their loss, a 24-14 defeat at the hands of 5A No. 3 Valor Christian in Week 3.
Senior running back David Moore III has been pretty much unstoppable, rushing for at least 122 yards and a touchdown in each game he’s played despite battling a hand injury through the final weeks of the regular season. He got a cast off in time to go for 202 yards and four touchdowns on eight carries in the first round of the playoffs.
Pine Creek can also score through the air. Quarterback Gavin Herberg has tossed 24 touchdowns with four interceptions while amassing 1,478 yards. Eddie Kyle has been his favorite target, hauling in six touchdowns with more than 400 yards.
Defensively, Elias Rolfe (7), Rece Rowan (5) and Abner Schwab (5) combine for 17 of the team’s 30.5 sacks. The Eagles also have Max Lofy, a Wisconsin commit, in the defensive secondary.
No. 3 Discovery Canyon Thunder
Game data: No. 6 Frederick (10-1) at No. 3 Discovery Canyon (10-1) … 1 p.m. Saturday at District 20 Stadium. The winner will face No. 7 Durango or No. 2 Pueblo South in the state semifinals.
Media: Follow @VBenedetto on Twitter for live updates throughout the game.
Scouting the Warriors: Frederick cruised into the quarterfinals after a 45-14 win over Thomas Jefferson. The Warriors rushed for nearly 400 yards, led by senior quarterback Jake Green who rushed 17 times for 208 yards and three touchdowns. Three other Warriors rushed for touchdowns.
Green only passed for 47 yards in the first round, but he’s got more than 1,300 passing yards with 22 touchdowns to one interception. He’s also rushed for 1,503 yards and 18 scores.
Brandon Hornby (nine) and Dominik Schleif (eight) are nearing double-digit rushing touchdowns, while Dylan Sindelar has 10 touchdown catches.
Frederick has only allowed 20 or more points on four occasions, most recently in a 27-20 loss to Mead, the top seed in 3A.
Discovery Canyon ended Frederick’s 2018 season with a 34-31 double-overtime win in the first round.
Scouting the Thunder: A productive ground game has been critical and that was the case in a 28-11 playoff win over Roosevelt last week. Christian Call rushed for two scores.
Marshall Pike, a bruising 6-foot-1, 210-pound running back has been the most productive back, totaling 1,539 and 24 touchdowns, while Kevin Frye and quarterback Jonah Isakson have run for north of 500 yards. Isakson has 775 passing yards with seven touchdowns against two interceptions.
Opponents have scored more than 30 points against the Thunder just twice, and Discovery Canyon is 1-1 in those games.
The Thunder’s loss came at the hands of No. 2 Pueblo South, 31-22, before a 56-49 win over Palmer Ridge, No. 4 in 3A, in the final week of the regular season.
No. 4 Palmer Ridge Bears
Game data: No. 5 Conifer (11-0) at No. 4 Palmer Ridge (9-2) … 1 p.m. Saturday at Don Breese Stadium. The winner advances to play No. 1 Mead or No. 8 Green Mountain in the semifinals.
Media: Follow @LindseySquints on Twitter for live updates throughout the game.
Scouting the Lobos: Conifer has hardly been tested this season, playing just one game within a possession. That came Sept. 28 when the Lobos beat Fort Morgan 35-28. The teams met again last week in the playoffs with Conifer increasing its margin to 38-21.
Last week, Lobos quarterback J.R. Hart completed 19 of 25 passes for 394 yards and four touchdowns. Sam Horneck was on the receiving end of 223 of those yards and one touchdown.
Hart has 2,195 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and six interceptions. Horneck has 1,240 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
Noah Wagner gives the offense another dimension with 1,456 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns.
Scouting the Bears: If it comes down to shootout, Palmer Ridge appears to have the weapons to keep up.
Despite missing a couple of games, Bears quarterback Luke McAllister, a Division I prospect, has passed for 2,029 yards and 22 touchdowns against two interceptions.
He’s got a group of high-octane receivers to pick from. Deuce Roberson leads the pack with 892 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, while junior Kaden Dudley, a Colorado commit, has 511 yards and five touchdowns. Anthony Costanzo and Marcellus Reid have joined the mix of late with multiple touchdowns.
On the ground, the Bears lean on senior running back Raef Ruel, who can make defenders miss or simply run them over. The senior has 1,112 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns, going over 100 yards in six games.
The defense has had its ups and downs, holding opponents to 10 or fewer points six times. The Bears surrendered a total of 105 points in their losses (49-28 against Pine Creek and 56-49 against Discovery Canyon).
No. 7 Pikes Peak Christian Eagles
Game Data: No. 7 Pikes Peak Christian (10-1) at No. 3 Fowler (11-0) … 1 p.m. Saturday at Fowler. The winner advances to the state championship against No.1 Sedgwick County or No. 5 Dayspring Christian Academy.
Scouting the Grizzlies: Fowler cruised through the regular season, beating each opponent by at least 23 points before passing their first test in the playoffs.
The Grizzlies advanced to the state semifinals with a 34-28 win over Mancos. Fowler only completed one pass but had five players rush for more than 50 yards, led by Jackson Bates’ 112 yards and a touchdown. Bates (1,169) and Joshua Daniels (1,190) have combined for 40 rushing touchdowns.
Scouting the Eagles: Since losing their opener to Merino, the eventual 8 seed, 18-6, Pikes Peak Christian won 10 straight, including last week’s 28-6 win over Sanford.
The Eagles have allowed opponents to score more than 10 points just twice.
Andrew Harris leads the defense with 100 tackles, while Kyle Arnett has 10 sacks. Hudson Grant has been another difference-maker, picking off five passes and recovering four fumbles.
Grant is also the second-leading rusher with 759 yards and 10 touchdowns. Nathan Seay leads the Eagles’ rushers with 1,329 yards and 17 touchdowns.