What do the Palmer Ridge and Pine Creek football teams have in common?
Well, let’s go down the list:
They were the two highest-ranked Pikes Peak region teams heading into the 2017 state playoffs, with the Bears coming in at No. 2 in 3A, and the Eagles in the top position in 4A.
They both have stormed past opponents this postseason, averaging more than 34 points.
They’re the last two area teams standing as they head into the state semifinals this weekend.
And they boast two of the state’s best sophomore starters - who just happen to be best friends.
Pine Creek’s David Moore III and Palmer Ridge’s Deuce Roberson have been best friends since they nearly made Colorado Pop Warner history in 2015. The 2015 Wardogs, featuring Moore and Roberson, won the Colorado state championship and battled all the way to the national title game, but ultimately fell to St. Pete, Fla., 16-14.
But since parting ways, the duo remain each other's biggest cheerleaders, and most vicious trash talkers, despite playing on opposing teams.
"There's definitely a lot of trash talk," Roberson said. "We respect each other's teams, but then there's times we talk trash to each other, but I think it's awesome to see one of my best friends go out there and do what he does."
Moore and Roberson try to attend each other's game when their schedule allows, and text each other before each game.
"It's almost like a friendly competition, who has the better stats," Moore said. "When Deuce is like, 'Man, did you see my one-handed catch?' then I'm like, 'OK I can top that,' and I try to do it the next game."
"It's definitely a motivating factor," Roberson said. "I don't know if I'm going to get more rings than he does because he already has one, and they're probably going to win it the next three years, but every time we start talking trash he's like, 'Oh, who has the ring?' and I can't say anything so it's always ends right there. But I'm definitely motivated to go get one this year."
Both sophomores had standout performances through the regular season, but last week Moore and Roberson had games they won’t forget anytime soon.
Last week against Rifle in the 3A quarterfinal, Roberson had four touchdowns as he led the team in all-purpose yards and defensive scoring.
A pair of long touchdown receptions, a fumble recovery and 50-yard return, and a 42-yard pick-six gave the Bears everything they needed to punch their ticket to the semifinals.
Moore, on the other hand, had a totally different experience in the quarterfinals - but looking at his stat line for the Eagles’ 29-7 win over Rampart, you would’ve never known.
Moore was battling a case of the flu heading into Friday’s 7 p.m. kickoff, and received an IV for fluids shortly before the game, according to coach Todd Miller.
But despite being under the weather (literally - when it snowed about an inch in the second half) - Moore still put up 155 rushing yards and a touchdown late in the game.
SQUINTS SCOUTING REPORT
** Class 4A **
No. 1 Pine Creek
Game data: No. 4 Pueblo West vs. No. 1 Pine Creek … Saturday at D-20 Stadium, 1 p.m. kickoff. Follow @ChhunSun and @HughJohnson707 on Twitter for updates.
Scouting the Cyclones: Pueblo West returns to D-20 Stadium with a chip on its shoulder. The Cyclones fell 21-14 as the Eagles robbed them of a 4A Southern football title for the second straight year.
No. 4 Pueblo West enters the state semifinals with a narrow win over No. 5 Chatfield, and a cozy 45-point victory over Standley Lake. The Cyclones are led by 1,700-yard rusher Pierre Taylor, who is responsible for 23 touchdowns on the season.
Pueblo West has a limited passing game with a pair of quarterbacks, Jacob Wilkinson and Connor Farnsworth, who have split just over 800 passing yards in 2017. Their top receiver is Nieyeme Smeyer-Williams with 574 receiving yards.
Scouting the Eagles: This postseason, the strong Eagle defense flexed its muscle, allowing just one touchdown on the road to the semifinals.
Sam Miller led the Pine Creek defense in Week 7 against the Cyclones with 12 tackles, while his teammates forced five turnovers.
Senior quarterback JC Coulter enters his final career semifinal game after an impressive regular-season slate, surpassing 1,600 yards with an impressive .650 completion percentage in 12 starts. He has a group of five receivers who have more than 100 yards on the year, led by Wyatt Wieland with 741 yards and eight touchdowns. Wieland is second on the team in rushing with 322 yards.
David Moore III hit 1,500 rushing yards last week with a 155-yard performance against Rampart.
** Class 3A **
No. 2 Palmer Ridge
Game data: No. 6 Palisade vs. No. 2 Palmer Ridge … Saturday at Don Breese Stadium, 1 p.m. kickoff. Follow @LindseySquints and @VBenedetto on Twitter for updates.
Scouting the Bulldogs: Palisade found itself in the 3A semifinals thanks to a narrow upset over No. 3 Roosevelt, 17-14. The Bulldogs held off a fourth-quarter comeback by the Roughriders to earn the quarterfinal win. Palisade averages 340 rushing yards, and fewer than eight pass attempts per game.
The powerful Bulldog run game is led by three 1,000-yard rushers. Terrance Williams (1,378), Cameron Tucker (1,072) and Austin Bernal (1,043) carry the load, with Tucker and Bernal splitting 32 rushing touchdowns evenly to lead Palisade scoring.
Despite limited passing, Tucker has an impressive completion percentage, connecting on 46 of 74 attempts for 804 yards.
Scouting the Bears: Thankfully for the Bears, their defense loves to stop the run. Last week in the quarterfinals Palmer Ridge met Rifle, which runs a similar run-heavy offense to Palisade, and held them to just seven points, which were scored in the final three minutes.
The Bears boast a pair of exceptional defenders in junior JC Sparks and senior Zach Hester, who have combined for more than 25 sacks this year and limited opponents to just 20 points in the postseason.
While Palmer Ridge’s defense keeps points off the board, the offense can’t help but score. Through four straight weeks the Bears have not scored fewer than 48 points as the sophomore class has found its stride in the second half of the season. Aside from junior quarterback Ty Evans, the team’s top three stat leaders are members of the class of 2020, led by Deuce Roberson with 1,290 receiving yards. Sophomore Raef Rule is the team’s leading rusher with 785 yards, followed by Noah Brom with 329 rushing.