Rifle against Elizabeth: It’s deja vu all over again
Class 3A’s wild and wacky Western Slope football league is finally resolved. After weeks of rearranging standings and unpredictable results, Steamboat, Rifle, Palisade and Moffat County have emerged out of the conference with state playoff berths.According to the state playoff bracket released by the Colorado High School Activities Association, Rifle, who took the second spot from the WSL, will play host to Elizabeth on Saturday. Rifle sealed the No. 2 spot with a 38-14 victory over Moffat in its regular-season finale on Friday night. Tyler Thompson rushed for three touchdowns in the game, coming on runs of 19, 11 and 15 yards. Colby McFarlin scored one TD with a 26-yard run in the second quarter. Bear kicker Ryan McIntosh drilled a 37-yard field goal in the second quarter to put the Bears up 24-14 at halftime.Rifle’s defense shut down the Cowboys in the second half, helping them off the scoreboard. Thompson scored one of his TDs in the third quarter before Rifle secured the win on a 27-yard pass from Derek Fruetel to Cody Boe.The defensive unit held Moffat to 186 total yards in the game, while the Bears’ offense totaled 508 yards.The Rifle-Elizabeth showdown on Saturday at Bears Stadium will be the second consecutive year the Bears (7-3) will face Elizabeth (5-5) in the state playoffs. Last season, Rifle beat the Cardinals 35-14 in the quarterfinals.In 2004 and 2005, the Bears worked their way through the state playoff bracket and all the way to the title game, winning it in ’04, as the Slope’s No. 4 team.The winner of the Rifle-Elizabeth game will advance to the quarterfinals, where it will face the winner of the Alamosa (10-0) vs. Harrison (6-4) contest.Steamboat (9-1) took the top WSL seed and will host Fort Lupton (6-4) on Saturday. Palisade (7-3), the WSL’s No. 3 team, will travel to Centaurus (5-5), while Moffat County (5-5), the No. 4 seed from the Slope, will be at Summit (10-0).
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.