League play begins with Top 5 showdown

Yuma Football Team will go as the boys in the trenches go as the team enters the daunting league schedule.
Everyone in the former North Central Conference, now known as 1A League 4, begins this weekend what should be a very interesting five-week round robin.

Yuma went 4-0 in non-league play, the program’s first 4-0 start since the undefeated championship season of 2009. Yuma is No. 3 in the Class 1A Rating Percentage Index, and is No. 5 in the 1A Top 10 (CHSAANow.com poll).
1A League 4 has four of the top-five teams in the Top 10, meaning there will be at least one Top 10 showdown each week.
The YFT opens league play with its Homecoming game Friday against fourth-ranked Wiggins, which is 3-1, and also No. 8 in the RPI.
Limon, 4-0, is No. 1 in both the Top 10 and RPI. Wray, 3-1, is No. 2 in the poll, but its RPI ranking is low at the moment at No. 20. Holyoke, 2-2, is No. 11 in the RPI, and Burlington, 2-2, No. 15.
In other league openers this weekend, Wray will host Holyoke on Friday, and Burlington hosts Limon on Saturday afternoon.
“What’s crazy is if you sprinkled all six of us throughout the state, each one of us might just win a league title,” Yuma coach Kelly Seward said.
As it is, only one will walk away with the League 4 crown.
Yuma has made its case as a contender in the season’s first month.
The YFT has four players with more than 100 yards rushing through four games, averaging 283 yards per game and 35.5 points. Jack Blecha leads the way with 319 yards and three touchdowns, while Silas Baucke had 249 and three TDs, Ethan Goeglein 216 and two scores, and Jesus Ross 137 yards on just eight carries.
The passing game has been efficient with 142 yards and five touchdowns on just 13 attempts.
Yuma’s defense has yielded only five touchdowns through four games, holding opponents to an average of 8.25 points per game. Yuma has 22 tackles for losses, and has generated 15 takeaways, six interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. Daman Hernandez and Ross lead in interceptions with two each. Kallen Blach is the leading tackler, followed by Kevin Hermosillo, Cesar Varela, Victor Perez and Trey Stegman.
Then there is place-kicker Alex Lozano, who has 17 touchbacks on 25 kickoffs, has made all 20 of his extra-point attempts, and has a 35-yard field goal to his credit.
The offense and defense both have been stout, and it all starts with the fellas up front.
“It’s all up front,” Seward said, crediting O-line coach Jonathan Ferrari. “Without them, it’s not even an option. What’s funny is we don’t have the size we used to have, but we have guys who have brought in and have accepted their roles.”
Zeke Martinez got moved around earlier in his career before settling in on the offensive line this season. Ethan Gonzales got moved to the interior line this season and is excelling at guard and tackle. Cesar Varela didn’t play football his freshman year, but now has settled in as a key part of the line. Carson Lynch has stepped up as a steady force at center. Then there is Victor Perez serving as the pulling guard, leading the way on a lot of great runs.
Seward noted there also is fullback Kallen Blach leading the charge, along with ends Hermosillo and Ross.
“Everyone is doing their job,” Seward said. “What I love about this group is they’re not intimidated by anybody…Size always matters of course, but the offensive line is more athletic than in the past, and we have more speed.”
The same group contributes in the trenches on defense, along with Nathan Etl plugging up the middle.
While a 4-0 start is great, the real march to the playoffs begins now as Yuma attempts to go for its highest postseason seed in more than a decade.
“It’s going to be fun,” Seward said.