Rifle Bears football team goes for 25 in a row at Battle Mountain
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
Rifle High School’s football team will go for its 25th consecutive regular-season win on Friday, Sept. 27, when the Bears, ranked second in the CHSAAnow.com Class 3A football polls, play at Battle Mountain in Edwards. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The Bears (4-0 overall, 3-0 Class 3A Western Slope League) are showing plenty of diversity on offense. Four players (Carlos Ochoa, Kellin Leigh, David Figuita and Javier Nunez) are averaging more than 10 yards a carry running the ball. Junior quarterback Layton Stutsman has been solid throwing the ball, completing 18-of-34 passes (53 percent) for 304 yards and four touchdowns.
For the record, Leigh is the Bears’ leading rusher with 421 yards and eight touchdowns on 28 carries. As a team, Rifle is averaging 339.8 yards per game on the ground.
And Rifle’s defense has been solid, recording two shutouts in its first four games. The Bears are outscoring their opponents 184-13 through four games. They’ve shut out their opponents in 11 of the past 12 quarters.
Battle Mountain (0-4, 0-3) is a program headed in a different direction. The Huskies, who competed for a league title in 2011, are trying to avoid losing their 16th consecutive game dating back to their 40-38 first-round playoff loss to D’Evelyn.
Last week, the Colorado High School Activities Association announced that Battle Mountain has petitioned to drop down to Class 2A for football. The Huskies join league counterparts Montezuma-Cortez and Moffat County, which are also trying to drop down a classification.
PARACHUTE – There’s not a whole lot that Grand Valley High School’s Tyler Scott hasn’t done for the school’s football team this season.
Then again, he hasn’t done much wrong.
Scott has set the pace on offense and defense for the Cardinals, who are off to an 0-4 start against a gauntlet of a non-league and early league schedule. He’s leading the team in almost every statistical category except tackles, where he’s second on the team.
And that play has helped Grand Valley stay close in at least two of its losses, including last week’s 27-25 setback at Gunnison.
Statistics for the Cardinals’ loss at Gunnison hadn’t been tallied as of press time. But through last Friday’s Week 4 contests, Scott was leading Class 3A in nearly every passing category (64-of-104 passing, 814 yards, seven TDs and one interception). Two players – Jeff Merritt of Fort Lupton and Brandon Ewing of University – have thrown eight touchdown passes to lead the classification.
But the 217.3 passing yards per game Scott averages is far and away the best in 3A. Eaton’s Matt Burkhart, who averages 203.3 passing yards per game, is second.
He plays free safety on defense, and his 25 tackles through three games is ranked second on the team to defensive lineman Collin Weeks (26). The 6-foot-4 Scott also leads Grand Valley in rushing yards with 135 yards on 31 carries.
Part of that has come from the circumstances Grand Valley has played under. The Cardinals have trailed early on in every game they’ve played.
Grand Valley will try to win its first Class 2A Western Slope League game of the season when it travels to Bayfield on Friday, Sept. 27. Bayfield, the two-time defending league champion, dropped out of the CHSAAnow.com Class 2A football rankings after a 24-6 loss at Aspen this past Friday.
Grand Valley could drop into 1A for football
The Cardinals are entertaining the prospect of dropping from 2A to 1A for the upcoming two-year reclassification cycle.
The enrollment estimate given to CHSAA from Grand Valley is 288 students, which is 12 students short of the 300-student cutoff CHSAA requires to remain at the 2A level. However, Grand Valley coach Mike Johnson and Athletic Director David Walck said there would be nearly no drop-off in the level of competition if Grand Valley moved down a level.
Three of the teams in the 1A Western Slope League are ranked in the CHSAAnow.com statewide poll. One of them, Meeker, beat Grand Valley, 32-29, on Aug. 30 in the season opener for both teams.
Grand Valley’s enrollment numbers will be finalized by the beginning of October, Walck said. If the school falls short of CHSAA’s enrollment standard, it can petition CHSAA to play up a level.
“We live in a very transient community, so our numbers fluctuate a lot,” Walck said. “When we finalize the numbers, we’ll sit down and figure out what our next step will be.”
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Rifle City Manager Scott Hahn plans to transition out of his position over the next several months, according to a city of Rifle news release.