Rifle football, Coal Ridge volleyball heading to state playoffs
After moving down to the 2A Western Slope League this fall following a number of years at the 3A level, the Rifle Bears football program won the league outright on the final week of the season with a 52-26 win at Moffat County. Thanks to that win, the Bears assured themselves a trip to the Colorado High School Activities Association’s 2A state playoffs, in which the Bears are the number seven seed.
Rifle (8-1, 4-1 2A WSL) hosts the No. 10 Eaton Reds Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Bears Stadium in Rifle in the 2A first round matchup. The Reds finished the regular season 6-3 (3-2 2A Patriot League) placing second behind No. 2 Resurrection Christian.
The Reds, under head coach Zac Lemon, are led by sophomore quarterback Scott Grable, who threw for 1,077 yards and 7 touchdowns on 137 attempts this season. Grable added eight interceptions, completing 69 passes (50 percent completion percentage).
On the ground, Eaton had three backs rush for at least 300 yards on the season, as senior Ty Garnhart led the team in rushing yards with 672 yards and nine touchdowns on 79 carries. Sophomore Gage Butler rushed 81 times for 451 yards, adding six touchdowns, while sophomore Salvador Rojas added 340 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 49 carries.
As a team, Eaton averaged 23 points per game in the regular season, racking up nearly 600 yards of offense each game, while giving up 15.1 points per game on the year.
The Bears come into the first-round matchup looking to get back on track at home in the playoffs after losing to Palmer Ridge last fall while still in 3A. Rifle, under head coach Damon Wells, is led by senior fullback Tanner Vines offensively. Vines, a candidate for first-team all-state in 2A, rushed for 1,987 yards and 19 touchdowns on 217 carries, falling 13 yards shy of 2,000 yards, which would have been the second consecutive year he broke the 2K barrier.
Along with Vines, junior slot back Levi Warfel rushed for 822 yards on 99 carries, adding eight touchdowns. Warfel also caught four touchdown passes for the Bears. Offensively, the Bears scored 37.3 points per game and gained more than 400 yards per game. Defensively, Rifle was stout throughout the season, allowing just 12.2 points per game.
Joining Rifle in the 2A state playoffs is No. 3 Basalt. The Longhorns, who lost to Rifle 35-14 in Week 8, will take on No. 11 D’Evelyn in the first round.
COAL RIDGE VolleyBALL HEADS TO REGIONALS
Last weekend was a rough close to the regular season for the Coal Ridge Titans volleyball team, which dropped two games at home in its annual volleyball invitational, losing to Battle Mountain in three sets and Palisade in five sets. Both are 4A programs.
Heading into last weekend, Coal Ridge was 14th in the 3A volleyball RPI rankings. The two losses dropped them down to No. 21, meaning the Titans hit the road Saturday for the 3A Region 4 tournament against No. 4 Platte Valley and No. 33 DSST: Stapleton.
The Titans finished the regular season 15-8 (9-0 3A WSL), winning the league championship for the second consecutive season, and third time in four years. Coal Ridge will play DSST: Stapleton in the second game of the day, before playing Platte Valley in the final game of the tournament, with Platte Valley and DSST: Stapleton opening up the tournament with a 9 a.m. game.
Platte Valley finished the season 20-3 (10-0 3A Patriot League), winning the league championship outright. DSST: Stapleton finished its regular season 13-10 (8-3 3A/2A Frontier League), placing tied for second in the league standings.
The winner of the Region 4 tournament heads to the Denver Coliseum next weekend for the 3A state tournament. The Titans have gone to the state tournament in three of the last four years under head coach Aimee Gerber.
In 4A, the Glenwood Springs Demons were the first team out of the bracket, coming in at 37 in the RPI rankings. The top 36 go to regionals. Glenwood’s RPI was 0.513118, while No. 36 Greeley Central had an RPI of 0.513185, meaning the Demons missed the regional playoffs by an RPI of 0.000067.
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As a new transplant to the area, each week I will feature a trail within the Garfield County limits. For this inaugural week, I’m highlighting Glenwood Springs’ own Atkinson Canal Trail.