Time is running out.
With the end of the regular season closing in, Friday’s cross town showdown at 7 p.m. at French Field between Poudre and Rocky Mountain is a big one.
Both teams have suffered heartbreaking losses over the last couple weeks. With just two regular season games after Friday, each game is getting more important.
Why it matters: Playoffs. That’s what it all comes down to now. In Class 5A’s bloated 32-team playoff field, both teams are likely to make it. Last year eight four-win and two three-win teams made it, so it’s unlikely that Poudre or Rocky Mountain will miss out with at least one very winnable game left on each team’s schedule.
That being said, whoever loses moves closer to the bubble and if they are in the playoffs they will likely face a brutal first round matchup. No one wants to see a Cherry Creek, Columbine or Valor Christian on the road in the first round. Friday’s winner can move up the seeding ladder while the loser immediately enters desperation mode.
To win, Poudre must: Start fast. Last week the Impalas were out of the game quickly, down 27-0 at half to Legacy. After a 3-0 open to the season, Poudre has hit a three-game losing skid. Getting out in front early will help reinstall the confidence built early in the season.
Strategically, an early lead will also pay off. Rocky Mountain can run games down quickly with its lethal ground game, knocking opponents out of rhythm. Taking an early lead will help send Poudre to victory.
To win, Rocky Mountain must: Keep the offensive flow. Lost in the devastating double-overtime loss to Fairview last week was how well Rocky Mountain’s offense moved the ball, putting up a season-high 46 points, its most since 2009.
The Lobos were able to run with their typical success, with 265 yards on the ground at a clip of 6 yards per carry. Rocky Mountain also sprinkled in some pistol offense. While Tyler Hyland’s 63 pass yards won’t blow anyone away, he hit four different receivers and did enough to loosen up Fairview’s defense. Passing just enough to keep the Poudre defense off balance could send Rocky Mountain to a win.
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.