No margin of error for Tribe
It is daunting, but not entirely unrealistic.
The Yuma High School football team still has a shot at advancing to the Class 1A playoffs for the first time since 2013.
However, it will require perfection over the last three games of the regular season.
A win at No. 1 Limon last Saturday would have been incredible, but it was not to be as the Tribe fell 40-6 on a classic “football weather” afternoon. Consider that the Badgers, loaded with upperclassmen talent, already had run roughshod over highly-ranked teams Strasburg (the defending state champion), Meeker and Crowley County.
Besides No. 1 in the 1A Top Ten (CHSAANow.com polls), the Badgers are No. 1 in the all-important Rating Percentage Index, which will determine the seeding for the 16-team playoff field in November. Limon’s opponents winning percentage is 0.646 and a No. 2 strength of schedule behind Strasburg.
Yuma, with an OPW of 0.682, has the No. 6 strength of schedule, and still is in the playoff hunt as the Indians are No. 16 in the RPI.
While the loss to Limon, realistically, was not surprising – at least for one more season – it was the 7-6 home loss to Holyoke (No. 10 in the RPI and the No. 9 in the Top 10) one week earlier that has put the Tribe’s postseason hopes in dire straits.
Holyoke, 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the North Central Conference, finally suffered its first loss in 2018 last Friday, 13-10 in overtime to Burlington, No. 5 in the RPI and the 1A Top 10.
Wray, just one spot ahead of Yuma at No. 15 in the RPI and No. 8 in the Top 10, is 4-2 overall and 1-1 in North Central Conference play after rolling past Wiggins last Friday in the Eagles’ homecoming game.
It would seem Yuma would have a shot finishing on a three-game winning streak, beginning Friday night in the Indians’ final home game of the regular season against Wiggins. The Tigers come to town 1-5 overall, and 0-2 like the Tribe in NCC play. That is followed by a trip to Burlington next week, and then the regular-season finale at ancient-rival Wray.
However, the Indians have to figure out a way to score more often. Besides the 64 points at hapless Lyons (No. 37 in the RPI out of 40 1A teams) three weeks ago, Yuma has managed to score more than one touchdown just once all season, in a 12-8 victory over Cornerstone Christian in Week 2.
While Burlington and Wray await the Indians, first on the agenda is Wiggins on Friday, No. 34 in the RPI (7 p.m. kickoff). The Tigers’ only win to date was against the aforementioned Lyons Lions, losing 48-22 at Wray last Friday. They will be making their second straight trip to Yuma County, Friday night.
Other North Central action this weekend has Limon at Burlington, with both teams sitting at 2-0 in conference play, and Wray at Holyoke, both 1-1 in conference.
Any hopes of an upset victory at Limon last Saturday quickly blew away in the gentle breeze and partly cloudy skies at Lloyd Gaskill Field.
Sophomore Kory Tacha scored on a 14-yard run on Limon’s first drive just 2 minutes, 44 seconds into the game. Just two minutes later, senior Hauk Hubbard broke loose for a 50-yard touchdown run, and Tacha ran in the 2-point conversion for a 14-0 Limon lead.
The Badgers led 20-0 by the end of the opening quarter as Tacha scored on a six-yard run on Limon’s next possession.
Yuma settled in a bit after that.
However, Limon put together another scoring drive capped by Jeremiah Leeper’s six-yard run with 4:46 left in the first half.
A series of turnovers ensued, but Limon had one last chance to score before halftime but a pass on a post route was dropped in the end zone as time expired.
After Limon’s homecoming halftime festivities, the Badgers returned the opening kickoff to the second half to Yuma’s 4-yard line, followed by Tacha’s touchdown run for a 32-0 Limon lead.
The Badgers scored again later in the third when Cannan Bennett hit Braden Sandersfield for a 62-yard touchdown pass, and Tacha ran in the 2-point conversion for a 40-0 Limon lead.
Bennett had all day in the backfield prior to launching the pass, and was hardly harassed by the Yuma defense every time he dropped back.
Yuma avoided the shutout in the fourth. The Indians put together a nice drive, but Cayden Lynch’s 3-yard TD run, preceded by Victor Mendoza converting a short fourth-down attempt, was negated by a holding penalty. Nevertheless, freshman Clay Robinson went around left end for a 15-yard touchdown run. Robinson fumbled at the goal line, but senior lineman Dillon White fell on the ball in the end zone, but Robinson still was credited with the touchdown.
The 2-point run attempt was stopped short as Yuma fell 40-6.
Yuma had 106 total yards, 68 rushing and 38 passing, while Limon racked up 426 total yards, 339 rushing and 87 passing.
It was a fairly clean game as the teams combined for four penalties, only one committed by Yuma. Both had two turnovers, two interceptions by Yuma and two fumbles by Limon. Yuma had nine first downs to 19 for Limon.
Lynch ran for 63 yards on 14 carries, Robinson 25 yards and a TD on four attempts, and Mendoza 23 yards on four carries. The rest of Yuma’s ballcarriers had negative yardage. Hubbard led Limon with 126 yards on 12 carries. Quarterback Chase McCreath completed one pass for 38 yards to Mendoza.
Defensively, Mendoza was in on 10 total tackles, Diego Gordo, Jaden Hansen and Robinson six each, Creighton Eyring five, Alec Holtorf three, Gabe Schulte three, White, Lynch and Jacob Long two each, and Efrain Medrano, J Gordo, Joey Ross, Gustavo Mosqueda, John Smith and Kobe Rayl one each.