It is a whole new season now, and the Yuma Football Team gets to open the 2022 Class 1A playoffs at home, the first time in nine years.
The YFT lost its last three games of the regular season, including 28-0 at top-ranked Limon last Friday. Still, Yuma went 6-3 and is pegged as the fifth seed in the 16-team playoff field.
It is the third time in the past four seasons the program has reached the postseason, and would have been the fourth straight if the 2020 COVID-19 season had not been reduced to an eight-team postseason.
“Everything else doesn’t matter except Saturday,” head coach Kelly Seward said. “We need to find a way a win…we need to get our mojo back.”
Saturday’s 1 p.m. kickoff will be the first time Yuma has opened the postseason at home since 2013.
The team the former Indians hosted then? The same program they will welcome to town Saturday, the Rye Thunderbolts.
Yuma shocked the Thunderbolts 42-0 in 2013 before losing at Limon (who else?) in the quarterfinals.
The YFT will be hoping for the same result Saturday.
However, the Yuma Football Team is entering this postseason under very different circumstances than nine years ago. Yuma also went 6-3 in 2013, but finished the regular season on a six-game winning streak while claiming the North Central Conference title. (Limon was not in the same conference in those days.)
This season, Yuma won its first six games before dropping its last three.
“Hopefully the playoffs will bring the kids a new life,” Seward said. “I hope the kids realize what a great opportunity we have.”
Therefore, it is a Yuma Football Team trying to correct course after a tough conclusion to the regular season. At least Yuma will not run into Limon until the semifinals.
And that is if they can get past the next two weeks. First up is a Rye team that went 8-1 in the regular season, including 5-0 in 1A League 3. (Yuma finished 2-3 in 1A League 4.)
The teams do have one common opponent, Banning Lewis, which Rye beat 16-6 on October 22, and Yuma blew out 49-0 in early September.
“Honestly, I don’t look at any of that at all,” Seward said. “They’ve had a great season, they know how to win. We just need to do what we do, and we’ll be fine.”
The winner of the Yuma-Rye game will meet the winner of Friday’s game between fourth-seed Buena Vista and 13th-seed Colorado Springs Christian, in the quarterfinals next weekend.
All six teams in the former North Central Conference (now 1A League 4) reached the 1A playoffs, including Burlington, which went 2-5 and winless in league play.
Limon is the top seed and hosts 16th-seed Flatirons Academy. Holyoke, 4-5 overall, but 2-3 in League 4, is the ninth seed and travels to eighth-seed Monte Vista. The winner of that game gets Limon, if the Badgers can get past Flatirons, in the quarterfinals.
The other three league teams are on the opposite side of the bracket.
Wiggins knocked off Wray, 28-14, last Friday. That vaulted the Tigers to the third seed, which Yuma could have had if the YFT had beaten Holyoke two weeks ago. Wiggins hosts 14th-seed North Fork on Saturday. Wray ended up with the sixth seed, and will host 11th-seed Meeker on Saturday. Wiggins and Wray very likely could be meeting again in the quarterfinals, which would be their second meeting in three weekends.
Burlington got in as the 15th seed and will travel to second-seed Strasburg. Seventh-seed Centauri and 10th-seed Gunnison are the other two teams on that side of the bracket.
Rye will come to town on a seven-game winning streak, including a forfeit win over Rocky Ford last week, meaning the Thunderbolts have had two weeks to prepare for the postseason.
“They have a big running back, a good quarterback and a couple of wide receivers,” Seward said, “but if we do what we should do up front, we should be fine. It’s just fun to go play someone else.”
Yuma battled fairly well last Friday in the regular-season finale at Limon, but could not avoid getting steamrolled by the hard-hitting Badgers.
The YFT had to punt on its first possession.
Limon then scored on its first play from scrimmage, a 52-yard run by Gabe Schubarth. The extra point was side, but Limon led 6-0 early in the first quarter.
Limon scored again on its next possession, a 31-yard pass from Jordan Rockwell to Cutter Forristall. Rockwell ran in the 2-point conversion, and the Badgers led 14-0 with 3 minutes, 20 left in the first quarter.
Yuma finally got a nice drive going early in the second after taking over on its own 3-yard line. Two solid runs by Ethan Goeglein, a 15-yard pass from Nash Richardson to Daman Hernandez, and a 16-yard run by Richardson moved the ball to Limon’s 46. However, the drive bogged down and Yuma punted.
Sure enough, Limon answered with an 80-yard drive capped by Rockwell’s 10-yard run with 45 seconds left for a 21-0 lead at halftime.
Limon scored one more time late in the third on Tuck Hubbard’s three-yard run.
Yuma came close to scoring once in the game, but came up short.
Still, the former Tribe managed 211 yards of total offense, including 199 on the ground. Ethan Goeglein has became the workhouse in recent weeks, again breaking the century mark with 119 yards on 20 carries. Richardson added 71 yards on nine carries, and Silas Baucke 11 yards on six attempts. Richardson completed one pass to Kallen Blach for 12 yards.
Limon managed 405 yards of offense, including 339 on the ground, led by Schubarth’s 189 on 25 carries. Rockwell completed six of 10 passes for 66 yards.
Defensively, Kevin Hermosillo had one interception and was in on 17 total tackles. Hernandez was in on 11 total tackles, Blach 10, Victor Perez eight, Jonathan Thomson seven, Cesar Varela nine, Jesus Ross four, Trey Stegman four, Goeglein three, Carson Lynch three, Johnny Carrillo three, Richardson two, Baucke two, Zeke Martinez two, Nathan Etl two and Reyli Trejo one.
The Yuma High School JV football team had a great season, but it ended with a loss.
The YFT JV dropped a 20-6 decision at Fort Morgan, Monday in its final game of 2022. Adrian Carranza scored Yuma’s only touchdown.
The JV finished the season with a 6-2-1 record, following on the heels of a highly-successful 2021 season as the program continues to develop depth and talent.