Palisade, Rifle play key Western Slope Conference game

It used to be Palisade and Rifle had to go through each other to win a conference football title.

Those days are back.

Seventh-ranked Palisade (7-1, 4-1 Western Slope Conference) hosts No. 5 Rifle (8-0, 5-0 WSC) at 7 p.m. Friday at Stocker Stadium with conference title implications.

Rifle is looking for its first Western Slope Conference title since 2002.

“To us, truly, if you win a league championship, all you get is a T-shirt out of the deal,” Rifle coach Damon Wells said. “We have enough T-shirts. We’ll buy them T-shirts that say whatever they want on them.

“We just want to make the playoffs. We don’t care what seed. We don’t care about anything else other than making the playoffs. Truly.”

Palisade is looking for its first Western Slope Conference title since 2004, but will need some help for an outright title with one conference loss already this season.

“For a while Rifle was down, but they’re back,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “They’ll be tough to beat. They have good kids.”

Both teams run a very similar offense, with run-oriented attacks.

The Bears are the top running team in 3A, averaging 382 yards per game, led by junior Ryan Moeller’s 1,806 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Bulldogs are sixth with 278.5 yards per game.

Fruita Monument (4-4, 2-1 SWC) at Montrose (7-1, 1-1 SWC), 7 p.m., Friday: The Wildcats are in a must-win situation for a playoff berth without their starting quarterback.

Fruita quarterback Zach Thorpe left last week’s game against Grand Junction with a concussion and has not been cleared to play this week.

The Indians could take a big step toward hosting a 4A playoff game with another win over a 5A program.

“They’ll be tough,” Fruita coach Sean Mulvey said of Montrose. “They play physical and challenge you to stop (the run). If you do, you have to watch out for Drew (Casebier).”

Grand Junction (8-0, 3-0 SWC) at Durango (4-4, 1-1 SWC), 7 p.m., Friday: The top-ranked Tigers have very little to gain and a lot to lose in their regular-season finale. Durango is in the 4A playoff picture and needs a win in one of its final two games to assure itself a spot.

Central (1-7) at Lakewood (7-1), 1 p.m., Saturday, Jeffco Stadium: The banged-up Warriors face a Lakewood team positioning itself for a 5A playoff spot.

Delta (4-4, 3-2 3A WSC) at Glenwood Springs (4-4, 2-3 3A WSC), 7 p.m., Friday: The Demons need a victory to give themselves a chance of returning to the Class 3A playoffs. The Panthers are looking for a signature win to build their program.

Olathe (5-3, 4-1 2A WSC) at Aspen (6-2, 4-1 2A WSC), 7 p.m., Friday: The Pirates can move into the driver’s seat for a fourth consecutive conference title with a victory. The Skiers, who haven’t beaten Olathe since 2007, can clinch at least a share of the title with a win.

Basalt (4-4, 2-3 2A WSC) at Coal Ridge (4-4, 3-2 2A WSC), 7 p.m., Friday: The Titans caught the attention of the conference with a victory over frontrunner Aspen last week.

Gunnison (4-4, 1-4 2A WSC) at Cedaredge (3-5, 2-3 2A WSC), 7 p.m., Friday: The Bruins are looking for their first home win in their final home game of the season.

Roaring Fork (2-6, 2-3 2A WSC) at Grand Valley (3-5, 2-3 2A WSC), 7 p.m., Friday: A win would help the Cardinals, who are trying to improve from last season.

Hotchkiss (8-0 4-0 1A WSC) at Meeker (1-6, 1-3 1A WSC), 7 p.m., Friday: The Bulldogs, who have clinched at least a share of the conference title, can earn a first-round home playoff game next week with a victory.

Rangely (2-6, 1-3 1A WSC) at Paonia (4-4, 2-2 1A WSC), 7 p.m., Friday: The Eagles need a win to be considered by the selection committee for a playoff berth.

Plateau Valley (1-6, 1-3 A8 WC) at Sanford (5-3, 5-0 A8 WC), 1 p.m., Saturday: The winner of this crossover Western Conference game advances to the state playoffs next week.


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