Rifle gets No. 1 seed in Class 3A playoffs | PostIndependent.com

Rifle gets No. 1 seed in Class 3A playoffs

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Jeff Caspersen Post IndependentRifle's Tanner Quick racks up yardage after a catch during a game against Palisade earlier this season. Quick and the Bears drew the No. 1 seed in the Class 3A football state playoffs and will face No. 16 Erie in the first round on Saturday.

Rifle High School football coach Damon Wells prefers to fly under the radar. As the top seed in the 16-team Class 3A playoffs, he won’t have that luxury.

“To be honest with you, I wish we weren’t [the top seed],” the veteran coach said in the wake of Friday’s 52-13 win over Eagle Valley. “We’ve had a lot of success beating No. 1 seeds, and we’re comfortable in that position.”

As dominant as the 3A Western Slope League champion Bears (10-0) have been thus far in 2012, it’s a safe bet they’ll find plenty of comfort atop the bracket, too.

Rifle’s playoff journey begins Saturday at home against 16th-seeded Erie (7-3). A game time will announced later this week.

As Wells referenced, Rifle has indeed enjoyed success as a playoff underdog.

In 2004, the Bears made an upset-filled postseason run that yielded a state title after sneaking into the playoffs as the Western Slope League’s fourth qualifier.

The following season, Wells’ first as head coach, Rifle was again the league’s fourth qualifier. Again, the Bears made a surprising run that ended with a loss to Florence in the state title game.

Given its own success as an underdog, Rifle will take no team lightly.

“This is going to be a tough week,” Wells said on Friday. “Ultimately, our goal is to get one more week together.”

Erie finished third in the 3A Northern League behind champion Frederick and second-place Holy Family.

The Tigers rely heavily on their ground game, with 2,804 team rushing yards spread between various runners.

Joey Ramey fronts the pack with 747 yards and seven touchdowns. Christian Mickey (630 yards, seven TDs), Pedro Anderson (590 yards, 11 TDs), Ryne Atkins (471 yards, eight TDs) and B.J. Jensen (224 yards, five TDs) have all seen substantial work.

As for the Bears, they’ve have made habit of destroying opponents behind a stingy defense and devastating running game. They’ve scored 433 points and allowed just 35. More than a few of those 35 points have come in garbage time with Rifle comfortably ahead late in games.

The Bears have racked up 3,663 yards and 48 TDs on the ground. Senior Ryan Moeller leads the attack with 2,202 yards and 31 TDs. Junior Kellin Leigh has 847 yards and 10 scores.


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