It's that time of the year again. The games are getting tougher and conference play is in full effect. And it wouldn't be a surprise if teams are already thinking about playoffs.
In this week's Three Games to Watch, more than bragging rights are on the line. Every game is crucial and can change the complexion of the rest of the season.
Pueblo West (6-0) at Pine Creek (5-1)
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
Where: D-20 Stadium
What to know: Not many games will have more on the line than this one, which might decide the eventual winner of the Class 4A Southern League championship. Both teams are 1-0 in league play, as Pueblo West boasts an unbeaten 6-0 record before the showdown. Pine Creek's only loss, 17-14, came against 5A's Ralston Valley on Sept. 29 and ended a 15-game winning streak. In that game, Ralston Valley came up with a stop in the final minute to seal the victory. The Eagles bounced back with a 56-14 thumping last week over Pueblo Centennial. Sophomore running back David Moore III leads the Pine Creek offensive attack, averaging 128.2 yards per game, while JC Coulter (five touchdowns, 789 yards) has a few targets, including Wyatt Wieland (25 catches, 348 yards, two touchdowns). Pueblo West will likely rely on Pierre Taylor for much of its running game, as he has totaled 710 yards and 11 touchdowns on 96 carries. Defending 4A champion Pine Creek beat Pueblo West 35-0 last season.
Montrose (4-2) at Rampart (4-2)
When: Friday, 6 p.m.
Where: D-20 Stadium
What to know: Rampart is coming off a dominant 42-7 win over Littleton in the Pikes Peak Athletic Conference opener, while Montrose has been on a roll, winning its past three games. All of the Rams' four wins have been by at least two touchdowns, as they've been led by a balanced running attack. Senior running back Keion Cross leads Rampart with six touchdowns and 389 yards on 48 carries, while Jackson Beale and Seth Sheppard have contributed four and three touchdowns, respectively. Meanwhile, Chris Yoo is first in the team in rushing with 410 yards and two scores on 73 rushes. Sophomore quarterback Kevin Witcher has completed 23 of 47 passes for 416 yards and four touchdowns. Montrose, which lost to Rampart 34-16 last season, has not reported stats.
Fountain-Fort Carson (4-2) at Highlands Ranch (5-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: At Highlands Ranch
What to know: The Trojans have proven they can play at a high level, and they get another test against Highlands Ranch, which narrowly won its past two games after being shut out 24-0 by Regis Jesuit on Sept. 23. Fountain-Fort Carson opened 5A Mount Lincoln Conference action in style, edging Poudre 31-28. Expect this matchup to be another close one. For the Trojans, Eric Donnell has been leading the way on the offensive end. The senior quarterback has completed 33 of 64 passes for 450 yards and four touchdowns, while adding three more scores and 643 yards on 92 carries. Senior Gavin Green has also played a pivotal role in the backfield, rushing for three touchdowns and 288 yards on 61 carries. Highlands Ranch also has several playmakers, including Dominic Bettini, who has recorded 114 carries and 890 yards for eight touchdowns.