2023 Week 7 (Colorado)
After the last two weeks in Nebraska and Kansas, I moved west. For Week seven was three games in Colorado. For Thursday, there wasn’t many options, and one that I regret not taking advantage of given the outcome. However, the string of towns along I-70 from Seibert to Burlington have been on my mind for a while.
First, I had to go to Colorado. Which wasn’t that difficult. I had to go to eastern Colorado, anyways. So, I got to pass by the town of Walsh for the first time ever. Which is where that tweet originated from. US160 from Johnson City, Kansas to Springfield, Missouri is fairly uneventful. Flat and desolate. With just a few small blips along the way. One being the bustling little town of Walsh. Home to the 6-man Walsh Eagles. The furthest southeastern team in the state. They’re in Baca County. Same as Springfield. Who I had seen previously.
So, it just piqued my interest to see them play. As they were hosting a game on Friday night against Cheyenne Wells. Which worked with my Saturday options being either Springfield or Bethune.
Bethune is located along I-70 in that previously mentioned corridor. And for Thursday, I had one option. Or so I thought. Originally, I was going to the Hi-Plains game in Seibert where they hosted Genoa-Hugo. I just missed on seeing Genoa-Hugo play last week at home against Otis. It was going to be a 6-man game.
Or, I had considered, a trip to Fountain, down by Colorado Springs, for the Fountain-Fort Carson game against Legend from the Denver suburb of Parker. That was the game to see. Instead, I decided on Hi-Plains. Until I found another Thursday game, not too far from where I was in Burlington.
From Seibert to Burlington are the teams of Hi-Plains, Stratton, Bethune, and Burlington. And Stratton was the best team in the state. Ranked #1 overall in 6-man, and defending state champions. They were hosting Otis, who were #2 in the state. Both teams were undefeated. So, my mind was made up for me. I was heading to Stratton.
I was in Burlington that afternoon and headed west near game-time along old US24 which parallel’s I-70. It’s much more desolate and less-traveled. As I-70 has taken most of the traffic. I passed through Bethune. And entered Stratton. On US24, there wasn’t much for landmarks or welcome signs. Just a small, green highway sign that said Stratton. So, I opted for a shot of the grain elevator sitting on the north edge of town. I’m sure there was something better, possibly, off the I-70 exit for the town. But, headed straight to the school.
#38 – Stratton v. Otis
Now, I was expecting this to be a good game. But, it quickly revealed itself that it wasn’t. Otis just could not move the ball effectively. While Stratton scored four times in the first quarter. To take a commmanding 24-0 lead. Meanwhile, I hadn’t found score updates for the Hi-Plains game. But, did find the score of the Fountain-Fort Carson v. Legend game. And it was, as I followed along, the game I missed out on. Fountain-Fort Carson would go down 28-21 before scoring on a blocked punt and a two-point conversion to win 29-28.
Meanwhile, despite a touchdown by Otis, Stratton would start the running clock in the first half, taking a 60-6 halftime lead.
In Eastern Colorado, in the long prairie drive that is I-70 east of Denver, amid a string of towns from Seibert to Burlington, sits the town of Stratton off exit 419.
The Stratton Eagles are kings of Colorado 6-man. Defending state champions and came into the game undefeated and ranked #1 overall. Their opponents on the night, were the Otis Bulldogs and were #2 in the state. This was a rematch of last year’s state semifinals. And Stratton held a nine-straight winning streak against the Bulldogs.
The game started quickly enough. With Brody Webb carrying the rock 60 yards for a touchdown. On the first scrimmage play for the Stratton Eagles after forcing an Otis punt.
Cyler Notter would notch his first score, on a one yard run, later in the first quarter. Giving the hosts a 12-0 lead after two unsuccessful conversion attempts.
Notter would find paydirt again, on a 48 yard run 1:50 later. While Webb wouldn’t be outdone, securing the catch on a long pass for six with 55.6 seconds left in the opening quarter. Again, however, the kick attempt would be fruitless. Giving the host Eagles a 24-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Drew Fox would start the scoring on a 13 yard run. Before Mitchell Stivers would finally put the Otis Bulldogs on the board. His 60 yard catch and run would be Otis’ only score on the night. The kick attempt after was blocked. Momentarily holding the Stratton lead to 30-6.
Cyler Notter would find the endzone twice more for the hosts, setting up his Al Bundy Award, with a 36 yard run and a 23 yard reception. Both point after attempts were drop kicks from Notter. Giving Stratton a commanding, 46-6 lead with 7:46 left in the first half.
Just 51 seconds lefter, Drew Fox would go yard again, on an 11 yard touchdown run. The run by Brody Webb would be good for the single point. And Stratton would setup the running clock, up 53-6.
On the last play of the first half, Stockton Fye would add his naming to the scoring sheet, with a 24 yard run. Gage Levin would snag the single point pass attempt for the point after. And Stratton would walk to the lockers with a commanding, 60-6 lead.
With the competitive portion of the game settled, the second half was a series of half efforts by both squads offensively. Grady Steerman would break into the scoring column with a 59 yard run. While Gavin Ruhs would collect the single point passing play.
And in the fourth quarter, Stratton would be stopped near the goal line via turnover. Though Otis would turn it right back. With time running, Stockton Fye would score the last points of the game, on a 1 yard TD run. Stratton would win comfortably, 73-6 to retain their well-earned #1 ranking.
On Friday, I drove south from I-70 in Oakley, Kansas along US83 to Liberal. And then west along US160 into Colorado. I had just been here. And, I had made it a point to be back. I would’ve preferred seeing a game in Johnson City, Kansas. But, they were off for the weekend.
So, I cross the border back into Colorado and made it to Walsh. Though, I immediately lost cell service. Which was aggravating. From just outside of town to a street from the school, I had no cell service. Including when I got a photo of the town’s welcome sign.
Because of the cell service, I wasn’t really paying attention to the welcome sign. As I had held service all the way up until the town. But, I got the Welcome Sign on the west side of town near the school.
Interestingly, I had one bar when I was on the street and the next street from the school. However, I entered the school grounds from the northeastern side, and walked around the south side of the building to the school. And immediately lost cell service again.
I tried to tweet out with photos. But nothing went through. Just simple texts, and I later learned, some tweets without images. It was slow and tedious. And I decided to not tweet anything. And just archive them all until I had better cell service.
The school was under a state of flux. A new school was being constructed south of the old one. While the field sat to the southwest of the old one. And the new building, partially built, dominated the view from the home stands. So, I stayed to the east side, and would shoot toward the home side and the sunset. Though, by this time the sun was setting before kickoff.
Concessions, and restrooms, were inside the school in the small cafeteria. They had pulled pork sandwiches advertised for the game on the school’s website. And they didn’t disappoint. $10 bought you the sandwich, chips, a small piece of a cake, and a water. Though, I substituted a gatorade.
I sat at a lunch table inside and ate, and then headed toward the southeast entrance to the stadium to get a roster sheet from the ticket takers at the gate.
And then back to the visitor sideline to get ready for the game. It was my first time seeing Walsh. Though I had seen Cheyenne Wells a few years ago at Eads.
#39 – Walsh v. Cheyenne Wells
Like many of the fields out here, pinning down a name can be difficult. Many times, the only location reference for a game is that it is at the high school. So, in absense of a named field or stadium, I default to “(town) Field” when the town and school share the same name. And seemed appropriate.
This was a good game. Cheyenne Wells would jump out to a first quarter lead, but Walsh was always a step behind. Scoring on a 31 yard pass play to take a slim, 8-6 lead. But, with 13.3 seconds left, the Tigers of Cheyenne Wells would score on a 34 yard TD pass, to reclaim the lead, 12-8.
It was back-and-forth and back-and-forth through the second and third quarters. Where at halftime, Walsh held an 14-12 lead.
The two would trade touchdowns, and Cheyenne Wells would go up 24-20 after three. Walsh would retake the lead with 8:07 left, to go up 26-24. Again missing the PAT. While Cheyenne Wells would answer, with a 30 yard TD pass. Up by 6, Walsh would score on a 10 yard TD pass, to tie it at 32-32, but the PAT was wide right. Keeping the game tied. And then Cheyenne Wells would score quickly after a short kickoff. A 7 yard run to give them a 40-32 lead after the two-point kick was successful. In the final possession, Walsh would be stopped on 4th and 2 with just over a minute remaining. A run attempt up the middle was fumbled on the handoff and the recover was not made. Cheyenne Wells ball and they’d run out the clock.
In the southeast corner of Colorado, sits Baca County. Population: 3,506. Two football teams at two schools make up the county. Springfield to the west, and Walsh to the east. Along US160 about 10 miles or so from the Kansas border.
Tiny Walsh, Colorado plays six-man football. And on Friday night were hosting Cheyenne Wells from just 118 miles up the road along the eastern border. The Cheyenne Wells Tigers were 2-4 heading into the game. While the host Walsh Eagles were 5-1 heading into the contest.
The game started slowly. A lot of running plays eating the ten minute quarters away. Though Trey Scheler would get on the board first for the visitors, with a 5 yard lunging dive to the endzone. The kick attempt would be blocked. The Tigers would go up 6-0 with 3:49 left in the first.
But the Walsh Eagles wouldn’t be outdone. Cole Tedder would snare a 31 yard TD pass on a busted play to tie the score while Cody Malone would kick the pigskin through the uprights to take the 8-6 lead.
Disaster would strike as Carson Noe would be all alone to catch a 34 yard pass and take it in for the touchdown. Another missed kick, this time left, would keep the visits lead in a precarious position, 12-8 with 13.3 seconds left in the first frame.
The second quarter would be much of the first. A long, slow slog of back and forth play before Lane Runkle would rattle off 44 yards on a 3rd and 9 to put the Eagles back on top, 14-12 after another missed kick.
In the third quarter, Carson Noe would again take the lead from the visitors, with a 20 yard catch on 4th and ten . The 18-14 lead would remain as the Eagles defense would block the PAT attempt.
Leyton Jones would take the lead right back, with a 5 yard run. Continuing the theme for the night, another missed kick would keep the hosts out in front by a slim 20-18 lead with 35.5 seconds left in the third. Before Kelby Leonard would take the ensuing kickoff back for a score. And Walsh’s lead would be short-lived.
Trailing 24-20 early in the fourth, Leyton Jones would pull the Eagles back on top with an 18 yard catch to the left front corner of the endzone. Another missed kick would keep the hosts on top, 26-24.
Trey Scheler would point the way, scoring on a 30 yard TD catch. With the kick for two points after the TD good, Cheyenne Wells would lead, 32-26 with 5:58 remaining. Lane Runkle would answer quickly, and his 10 yard catch wide open catch on the right sideline would draw the game level, 32-32 with 3:43 left after the PAT attempt was wide right.
Jesse Harlow would score the ultimate touchdown, a 7 yard run with 2:44 left. Giving the Cheyenne Wells Tigers the lead, and for good measure kicking the two-point attempt through the uprights. A 40-32 lead hanging in the balance.
Walsh would have their last possession end in disaster. As a mishandled handoff on 4th and two would be recovered short of the line of scrimmage, and secure the victory for the visiting Tigers, 40-32.
After the game, I drove west along US160 to Springfield. Where I stopped for the night. And had cell service. I sent off my saved tweets in order. And then went to sleep once photos were done.
For lunch, I had chicken tenders and fries. And stopped at the Dollar General for a fresh gallon of Milo’s. And got the photo of the welcome sign that I could see during the day. And then to the Crawford Motel to wait for the Saturday night game.
For the past few weeks, I had stuck close to the same geographic region for the weekends. Nebraska, Kansas and eastern Colorado.
In planning, there was an afternoon game in Bethune. Near Stratton. However, there was no chance to see both. The distance was just unreasonable. So, I was content to choose one of the other. And I opted for the game closer to my Friday night game. Less travel involved. Saturday was leisurely in Springfield. I could sleep in. And didn’t really do much else. The wind on the prairie had picked up. And it was cooling off. The high for the day was only about 72F or so.
The awesome thing about this game was it was my first time in Colorado seeing a second game, on a different day, at the same stadium. I had seen two games as a doubleheader at the NAAC in suburban Denver. However, my last time in Springfield was in 2011.
I had seen the Springfield Longhorns host the Dayspring Christian Eagles on a Saturday afternoon. Aaron Hale Field sits behind the north side of the high school on the north edge of town. It was one of those simple, and weathered football stadiums. A small press box atop the back end of the small metal stands. The visitor side was tall and narrow. While the field was clearly built to accommodate an 11-man field. As I would find out, Springfield was playing on a 100×40 yard field. Rather than the usual 80×40 most 8-man stadiums will play on.
#40 – Springfield v. Holly
I got to the school to find it, too, was under major reconstruction. The front and east side of the school were completely barricaded off. Which also closed the dirt street between the school and the stadium. Which housed the concessions I had eaten at last time. When I remember they had chicken wings. Back then, they were 4 for $2. Tonight, their special was Walking Tacos or Nachos. I opted for a Walking Taco. Though it wasn’t served in the bag. It was served in a styrofoam bowl. It was okay. And only for $5. Plus $2 for a gatorade.
There wasn’t much opportunity to look around. As most of the area was sectioned off with chainlink fence. One of the highlights for tonight’s game was that the game ball was going to be delivered by helicopter.
The game ball presentation was to happen around 6:50pm. However, we were advised that the helicopter had been delayed. And delayed. So, we waited for its approach. Seeing the lights in the northwestern skies grow closer. And watched as it passed over the stadium and returned. To set down on the field. A highlight being one of the crew was a Springfield alum.
It was funny that of the 1,414 total games I’ve been to, this wasn’t the first delayed by a helicopter. In fact, the first game delayed by a helicopter was CSP hosting Falconer/Cassadaga Valley. Where the field was used as a helipad and the start of the game was delayed. However, it was delayed again as a relative of a player for CSP suffered a medical issue and another air transport had to be called for them.
This added nearly a half hour to the start of the game. Which, with nothing else to do, didn’t affect much. But, it was growing colder on the plains in early October.
I had seen Holly before. As they had played at Wiley on a Saturday afternoon. It was the first game in Colorado for me where nothing was new. Neither team, stadium, nor town were new to me.
On Saturday night in Baca County, in far southeastern Colorado, the Springfield Longhorns hosted the Holly Wildcats at Aaron Hale Field. Holly came in at 3-2, while Springfield were 2-3. The game was set for kickoff at 7pm. Pending the delivery of a game ball from a LifeLine helicopter in a pregame ceremony. Though, that was delayed until well after 7pm.
Very early on, Holly shot out of the gate. A 21 yard TD run by Dre Salgado just 2:20 into the game set the tone. While Devin Eaton would go in from 2 yards out and catch the two point pass attempt. A quick 14-0 lead not even 8 minutes into the game.
In the second quarter, Marcus Sandoval got the Longhorns on the board with a 41 yard TD run to the right side. His rush attempt for two came up short. And the hosts trailed, 14-6 with 3:04 left in the half. But all the momentum gained was lost as Rueben Dom Maldonado would cap a quick drive by the Wildcats from 5 yards out on the ground. To take a 20-6 halftime lead.
Though not insurmountable, the tone changed in the second half. Springfield struggled offensively while their defenses started to wilt. Devin Eaton would punch in a one yard TD run, while Jacob Noriega would cap the possession with an extra point.
Dre Salgado would nab his second touchdown on the ground, from 45 yards out. While Noriega’s kick was blocked. Giving the Holly Wildcats a comfortable, 33-6 lead late in the third quarter. Maldonado would add his second score as well, with a 7 yard run. And Noriega’s second kick would score the 40th point for the visitors.
In the fourth quarter, Dominic Torres would go to the right side for 11 yards and a score. And a running clock starting with about 4:20 left in the game. Up 46-6 over the host Springfield Longhorns.
In the waning moments, Wyatt Cohoon would score the final points of the game on a short TD run for the Longhorns. Solidifying the game with a 46-12 final for the visitors as time would expire before another play could be run.
After the game it was back to the Crawford Motel. And my weekend had drawn to a close. Overall, it was quite fun. Seeing two new places and three new teams. I just wish the first and last game had been as competitive as the Walsh-Cheyenne Wells game.
For the weekend, from Thursday afternoon through Saturday night, I drove 512 total miles. For the weekend, I spent $103 total. $96 was on food. $16 at a Carl’s Jr, $15 at a Walmart in Friday, and $10 at Walsh and $7 at Springfield for food at the schools. The rest of it was miscellaneous food at gas stations, fast food, such as the chicken tenders, or the Milo’s at Dollar General. The $7 was for bug spray. After the past two weekends, I had wisened up and gotten mosquito repellent.
PHOTOS OF THE WEEK
46 New Teams
17 New Stadiums
1,539 different teams
485 different stadiums
1,414 total games
I will be in North Dakota. Though, not 100% sure what games I’ll be attending. Pretty certain that I’ll be in Carrington for the Thursday game against Langdon/Edmore/Munich. A battle of 6-2 and 8-0 teams who sit at #1 ane #2 in their region of Class 11B. And possibly the two Saturday 6-man games in Minot. The championship being between Center-Stanton and Parshall/North Shore. I saw Center-Stanton earlier this year in the second game of the season for me. But right now the Saturday games are tentative.
For photos from this game, and others this weekend, click HERE.
For photos from previous weeks and seasons, visit http://www.flickr.com/sykotyk/sets/