Two Pikes Peak region football teams remain in the hunt for a state championship with one game standing between them and a trip to the title game.
Follow Gazette Preps for coverage this weekend as Pine Creek and Palmer Ridge play in respective state semifinal matchups.
No. 1 Pine Creek Eagles
Game data: No. 5 Pueblo West Cyclones (11-1) vs. No. 1 Pine Creek Eagles (11-1) … 1 p.m. Saturday at D-20 Stadium. The winner will play either No. 2 Broomfield or No. 6 Dakota Ridge in the Class 4A championship game next week at Mile High.
Media: Follow @VBenedetto on Twitter for live updates throughout the game, and check Gazette Preps for a game story and photo gallery.
Scouting the Cyclones: Pueblo West travels to D-20 Stadium hoping for the program’s first win over Pine Creek in their last nine meetings, including a 41-13 loss earlier this year — the team’s only loss of the season. The last time the Cyclones defeated Pine Creek was a 22-21 regular season win in 2010.
Saturday’s game also marks a rematch of the 2017 4A semifinals in which Pine Creek defeated the Cyclones 28-0. The Eagles ultimately fell to Pueblo South in the title game.
Pueblo West is led by senior quarterback Chandler Mason who has over 1,600 yards passing and 35 total touchdowns (23 touchdown passes, 12 rushing). Matt Rudd and Jeremiah Sanchez lead the Cyclone’s ground game with 760 and 700 rushing yards, respectively, followed by Mason with 625 yards. Dawson Menegatti is the team’s top receiver with 559 yards and 10 touchdown catches.
Dillon Derting leads the Pueblo West defense, which allows just 10 points on average, with 76 tackles, including 12 for a loss. Senior Zachary Reid has five interceptions and 23 tackles.
Last time against Pine Creek, the Cyclone run game, which averages 227 yards, struggled to get going against with just 120 rushing yards led by Sanchez with 93. Mason threw for 171 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Scouting the Eagles: Pine Creek enters Saturday hoping for its third trip to the 4A finals in four years after dominating through the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Eagles have outscored opponents 103-30 through the playoffs, and have not allowed an opponent to score more than 17 points since an October 5 win over 3A semifinalist Palmer Ridge.
The No. 1 Eagles average 431 yards per game led by David Moore III who accounts for 200 rushing yards per game. The senior has 2,221 yards and 32 touchdowns, averaging nearly 14 yards per carry. Senior quarterback Gavin Herberg has thrown for nearly 1,600 yards and 23 touchdowns and is third on the team in rushing with 316 yards. The Pine Creek receiving corps features six athletes with 100 or more receiving yards, led by senior Eddie Kyle with 415 yards and six touchdowns. Kyle also has over 500 combined kickoff and punt return yards.
Elias Rolfe and Rece Rowan each have 10 tackles for a loss. Rolfe leads the team with eight sacks, followed by Rowan with five. The Eagles lead Class 4A with 31.5 total sacks. Junior Beau Freyler leads the defense with 60 tackles followed by Rolfe with 58.
In their regular season win over Pueblo West the Eagles put up nearly 600 all-purpose yards, led by the ground game which ran for 360 yards. Moore ran for four touchdowns and 202 yards, while Spencer Peterson had the best game of his career with 103 rushing yards. Herberg threw for 201 yards and a touchdown with four different receivers recording multiple catches and 30 or more yards.
No. 4 Palmer Ridge Bears
Game data: No. 4 Palmer Ridge Bears (10-2) vs. No. 8 Green Mountain Rams (10-2) … 4 p.m. Saturday at Jeffco Stadium. The winner will play either No. 2 Pueblo South or No. 6 Frederick in the 3A state championship next week at Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl (CSU-Pueblo Stadium).
Media: Follow @LindseySquints on Twitter for live updates throughout the game, and check Gazette Preps for a game story and photo gallery.
Scouting the Rams: Green Mountain punched its ticket to the state semifinals with an upset win over No. 1 Mead on the road and will look for another upset Saturday in an attempt to earn the program’s first appearance in the state championship since the team won it all in 1999. Last week, senior Trey Towndrow ran for three short touchdowns and passed for 195 yards to help the Rams to a 30-21 win over Mead. Typically, it is the Rams’ rushing game that does most damage against opponents, averaging 227 yards on the ground per game. Towndrow leads the charge as 3A’s second-ranked rushing quarterback with 1,114 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has also thrown for 1,860 yards and 16 touchdowns. Trey Corkin is his top target with 766 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Corkin is also the team’s top returner with nearly 500 combined return yards. Senior Jacob Chavez is second on the team in rushing with 881 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Rams are ranked second in Class 3A with 30 sacks led by Matt Schlieper with eight. Brad Golgart leads the defense with 92 total tackles, while junior Allen Ortiz has 78 tackles and a team-high 13 for a loss. Quinn Meinert has 78 tackles including 10 for a loss. The Rams defense also has 18 interceptions thanks in part to Towndrow and Darius Padilla who have five each.
Green Mountain’s two losses on the season came from the hands of Conifer and Lutheran by a combined score of 67-49. Palmer Ridge defeated both teams, most recently Conifer in the second round of the tournament. The Bears combined score against the two was 98-55. The Rams, however, have won six straight and have not allowed opponents to score more than 21 points since their loss to Conifer in mid-October.
Scouting the Bears: The two-time defending 3A champions have stormed through the first two rounds of the state tournament, outscoring opponents 119-42 thanks to its surging offense which has not scored fewer than 42 points since Week 4 of the regular season. The Bears average over 400 yards of offense per game with a balanced attack different from its previous two championship runs. First-year starting quarterback Luke McAllister averages 223 passing yards per game and has thrown for 24 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His success is opened by an improved Palmer Ridge running game led by senior Raef Ruel, who last week ran for 324 yards and five touchdowns against No. 5 Conifer. He has 1,436 yards and a 3A-leading 27 touchdowns. Senior Deuce Roberson is second on the team in rushing yards with 310 yards and leads the team in receiving with 892 yards and 11 touchdowns. While in the last three games, McAllister’s most explosive target has been junior Kaden Dudley who has 613 receiving yards.
The Bears secondary will look to exploit Green Mountain quarterback Trey Towndrow’s inconsistent passing game as he has thrown 12 interceptions this season, including two against Mead last week. Palmer Ridge leads the state with 25 interceptions — ranked 17th nationally — and picked off last week’s opponent, No. 5 Conifer, four times. Senior Kieran Fry has six interceptions, followed by Dudley and Marcellus Reed with five each. The Bears have also recovered 10 fumbles.
Leading the defense is senior Saxon Wright who had 12 tackles and a sack last week against Conifer. He enters the state semifinals with 128 total tackles which ranks him in the top 20 state wide. Wright leads the Bears with seven sacks also had an interception and a 42-yard return against Conifer. Palmer Ridge has 26 total sacks with K’ya Martin ranking second on the team with five, while junior Cameron Jones has 13 quarterback hurries.