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# / YARDS (games)
# / YARDS (games)
Zone Quarter Finals at Chaparral High School
Chaparral High School
Game Prediction and Summary
Friday, November 7, 1997
Zone Semi-Finals at Cimarron-Memorial High School
Cimarron-Memorial High School
Game Prediction and Summary
Friday, November 14, 1997
Western at Cimarron-Memorial
Friday, November 21, 1997
State Championship Cimarron-Memorial vs. McQueen
Chaparral High School
LAS VEGAS SUN - Football Matchups by Steve Cunningham
DURANGO (4-2 (Conference), 6-3 (Overall) at Chaparral (5-2, 5-4)
THE MATCHUP: Chaparral, Durango hope to emerge as darkhorse
Jordan Phee thought he simply entering the second year of rebuilding the football program at Chaparral.
Coming off a 4-4 season a year ago, the Cowboys were young and untested when the fall began. It showed in a 35-0 loss to Cimarron-Memorial in their opener. Then tough losses to Western and Rancho dropped Chaparral to 0-3.
"We were hoping for another .500 season, and the way we started, it wasn't looking good," Phee said.
It's seven weeks later and take a look at Chaparral now. The Cowboys won five of their final six to clinch the Sunrise Division's No. 2 seed and will host Durango in the opening round of the playoffs tonight.
Excitement is high at Chaparral and Phee and his troops aren't satisfied -- they want it all.
"We're glad to be in the playoffs but now that we're here, let's do a good job," Phee said. "This is a new experience for us. You're almost in a state of shock practicing after the season is over and we've got the home field for our first playoff game."
Durango will provide a tough test for the Cowboys. The Trailblazers won six games this season but felt they didn't get their due. It's true Durango didn't put up much of a fight against Cheyenne, Cimarron-Memorial and Santa Margarita of California -- one of the nation's top teams. Still, there were several impressive victories to crow about.
"We're the only team in town who beat Valley and Western," coach John Mausbach said. "We went 6-3 and some people don't give us much credit. The teams that beat us weren't any slouches."
An offensive show could be on tap. Chaparral QB Tyson Dobbs was marvelous down the stretch, running the team with confidence and providing a spark on the ground and with his arm. Verwon Washington and Mario Hagan are a good rushing combo and Antoine Fowler will get plenty of snaps.
Chaparral averaged 25 points per game after being shut out in the opener.
"I think the offense has evolved over the course of the season," Phee said. "Tyson has become a real threat running and passing."
Durango, meanwhile, had big offensive nights but was shut out twice and scored a lone TD against Cimarron.
"We knew, coming in, our defense would be suspect," he said, "but the offense could put some points on the board. I was disappointed in a few games, especially against Cheyenne (a 21-0 loss)."
The key for the Trailblazers is running back Alex Dixon, who rushed for close to 1,000 yards and scored eight TDs. When he gets his yards, quarterback Scott Freel has more time to pass and be successful, as his 1,166 yards and 11 TDs attest. Wide receiver Jason Carpenter is Freel's favorite target and has scored six TDs.
The Cowboys are riding high, winning five of thier last six games; the Trailblazers have won their last two. Two good offenses meet, although Chaparral has been more consistent since a season-opening shutout. Both programs are on the rise and want to prove they're among the elite.
THE PICK: Chaparral 28, Durango 27
THE RESULTS: DURANGO 20, Chaparral 6
Las Vegas Review Journal-Jeff Wollard
On the road against resurgent Chaparral, the Durango football team needed a big night from quarterback Scott Freel on Thursday.
He came through with 216 passing yards, two touchdown passes and a touchdown run to help beat the Cowboys 20-6 in the Southern Conference quarterfinals.
"Our goal this year was to win in the playoffs, and we have," said Durango coach John Mausbach. "We've taken this program to the next step."
With the victory, the Trailblazers (7-3) advance to the state quarterfinals at Cimarron-Memorial next Friday. Cimarron won the regular-season matchup, 42-7.
"We had big plans for the passing game tonight," Freel said, "and it really worked out for us."
The passing game worked largely because Alex Dixon's 97 rushing yards kept the Cowboy defense guarding against the run. Dixon ran the ball 24 times, coming through with big gains each time Freel needed help.
Chaparral managed to contain Freel throughout the first quarter but was inconsistent against the pass thereafter. Freel opened the second period by connecting with Jason Carpenter for a 22-yard touchdown pass, good for a 7-0 halftime lead.
With 5:50 left in the third quarter, Carpenter scored again on a 10-yard reception from Freel, putting the Trailblazers ahead 14-0.
Chaparral answered with a 7-yard pass from Tyson Dobbs to Richard Seigler late in the period to make the score 14-6. The Cowboys missed their two-point conversion attempt.
In the fourth quarter, Seigler gave Chaparral a late spark with his second interception of the night. That halted a Trailblazer drive and gave the Cowboys the ball with 8:35 to play.
Chaparral drove the ball to the Durango 34, but Brian Townsend put an end to the threat by intercepting Dobbs' pass with 7:12 left.
The Trailblazers took advantage, driving 80 yards in seven plays, with Freel scoring on a 30-yard scramble through the middle.
Chaparral's offense, which gained only 37 total yards in the second half, was led by Mario Hagan, who rushed for 68 yards.
DURANGO PEAKING AT RIGHT TIME
The Trailblazers started sluggishly, but since have lived up to some rather lofty preseason expectations
Las Vegas Review Journal-Scott Butterworth. Barely above the .500 mark at midseason, the Durango Trailblazers had far more questions than answers.
Durango was coming off its first trip to the Class 4A football playoffs, and no one in the Sunset Division had more returning starters, 13. The Trailblazers looked like one of the Southern Conference's dominant teams.
Yet they struggled mightily in the season's first five games. The defense, loaded with seniors, was inconsistent, and the offense too reliant on the performance of quarterback Scott Freel.
Durango had a 3-2 record, but both losses came on shutouts and two of the victories were nailbiters over also-rans Rancho and Bonanza.
But, just as some were ready to write the Trailblazers off, they have assumed that preseason promise, winning five of their last six games to reach the conference semifinals.
"The kids came together as a team," said Durango coach John Mausbach. "Guys began to understand their roles, and we started playing football."
Now 7-3, Durango will go on the road to play Sunset champion Cimarron-Memorial (9-1), the last team to beat the Trailblazers, at 7 tonight.
The other Southern Conference semifinal sends defending state champion Western (7-3) south to visit Green Valley (7-3) in another 7 p.m. start.
The development of Durango's offensive line has been a huge factor in the Trailblazers' ascension. They had to replace four starters, as only senior center Adam Krametbauer returned from Durango's 1996 line. The inexperience showed, both in run blocking and pass protection.
"It was going to take some time," Mausbach said. "Those guys had to get used to working with each other and fitting into their roles. Once that happened, Alex (Dixon, Durango's tailback) gained confidence that the line would open up holes, and Alex's running took pressure off Freel and his passing. It was a chain reaction."
Offensive production has gone up 35 percent in the second half of the season, while the defense has allowed just 30 points in the last three weeks.
Now, though, the Trailblazers must play a Cimarron team that beat them 42-7 a month ago.
Aided by five Durango turnovers, that game turned into a runaway early, as Cimarron scored 22 points in the first quarter. Spartan running back Arnold Parker finished with 145 yards and three touchdowns rushing.
Cimarron's defense, which has been superlative all year, did a great job against Dixon, who rushed for just 45 yards. That forced Durango to pass, and Freel was intercepted four times.
The other semifinal also is a rematch of a regular-season game. Green Valley won the season opener 37-35 at Western, rallying from a 21-3 first-quarter deficit.
Western rushed for more than 350 yards, and Rosco Denson scored three touchdowns.
But Jamar Glasper brought Green Valley back with contributions on offense, defense and special teams. His 3-yard touchdown run late in the game provided the winning points.
DURANGO GETS SECOND SHOT AT CIMARRON
Trailblazers can erase blowout loss in rematch
Las Vegas Sun-Steve Cunningham. The Durango football team's 42-7 defeat at the hands of Cimarron-Memorial on Oct. 9 started as a small snowball and turned into one fierce avalanche.
The Spartans' Arnold Parker scored on an eight-yard run, then a one-yarder, and Charles Sanford returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown ... all in the first eight minutes of the game. Before Durango got settled on the sidelines, the Trailblazers were down 22-0.
"They knew they played a bad game," Mausbach said of his team. "We approached that game knowing we couldn't make mistakes against a team like Cimarron and hope to win. They are pretty confident right now. The season's not over for them. They want to keep winning."
The Trailblazers have won three straight games since but have their work cut out if they are to stretch the streak to four. Parker rushed for 145 yards in that first meeting and fullback Leonard DeRoche was effective, as well. In addition, Cimarron quarterback Toby Smeltzer completed 9 of 15 passes for 176 yards.
Cimarron's offense has put up big numbers all year and it's the Durango offense, said Mausbach, not the defense, which has to counter that.
"If our offense has the ball, they can't score," he said. "We have to get some consistency on offense."
When Durango is rolling, Alex Dixon is running well enough that quarterback Scott Freel can mix things up and throw the ball. In that first game, Cimarron bottled up Dixon, holding him to just 43, forcing Freel to the airwaves. He did complete 13 passes for 171 yards but he was intercepted four times.
"We couldn't get the ground game going and we had to pass," Mausbach said. "Cimarron played great on defense ... it just wasn't our night."
The Spartans definitely are the favorites but Durango was in the same role just last week. The Trailblazers responded by surprising Chaparral, 20-6, in their playoff opener. Mausbach knows the kinds of hurdles his team has to get over to win.
"Cimarron's good," he said. "They are big, strong aggressive kids. They are well coached and they've got some athletes. We've got to find a way to solve Parker and Smeltzer's a good quarterback."
Durango (7-3) at Cimarron-Memorial (9-1)
THE MATCHUP: Cimarron had little trouble with the Trailblazers during the regular season, running back two interceptions for touchdowns in a 42-7 victory. The Spartans' defense will try to harass Durango quarterback Scott Freel all night long and if successful, will make it a long game for the Trailblazers. Durango's defense must perform well to keep Cimarron's potent offense, led by Arnold Parker and Toby Smeltzer, off the field.
THE PICK: Cimarron 35, Durango 14
THE RESULTS: Cimarron-Memorial 55, DURANGO 14
Cimarron beats up on TrailblazersLas Vegas Review Journal-Scott Butterworth. For a team making its first trek through the Class 4A football playoffs, Cimarron-Memorial High School appears to be settling in for a long trip.
The Spartans roll into the conference championship game by rumbling to a 55-14 vistory over Durango
The Spartans overwhelmed their second straight playoff opponent on Friday, beating Durango in all phases of a 55-14 whipping at Cimarron.
There was offense -- the Spartans gained more than 350 yards for the second straight week, and six different players scored touchdowns.
There was defense -- Cimarron forced Durango's explosive offense into a grind-it-out attack and never allowed running back Alex Dixon to become a factor.
And there was special teams -- Cimarron blocked a punt for its first touchdown, forced a fumble on a kick return to set up another score and gained nearly 100 return yards.
"We're very proud of how the kids played tonight. They did a super job," coach Greg Spencer said. "We talked to them this week about how being fundamentally sound would produce some good things, and that's exactly what they did."
Cimarron improved to 10-1 and now gets a chance to avenge its only blemish in Friday's Southern Conference final.
The Spartans will play Western, which earlier beat them 21-14 in double-overtime, in a 7 p.m. game at Cimarron. Western defeated Green Valley 19-13 in overtime on Friday.
Although Durango talked this week about controlling the ball and eliminating mistakes, the Trailblazers only accomplished one of those tasks.
They held the ball in the first half for nearly 17 minutes, compared to just seven for Cimarron, and took 40 snaps to the Spartans' 17.
Still, two crippling mistakes put Durango in a 27-7 hole at the break, and a Cimarron touchdown on the first drive of the second half put the game away.
On the game's first drive, Durango had to punt after back-to-back sacks. But a breakdown up front allowed Kawika Sagapolu to block Eli Gomez's kick into the Trailblazer end zone. Detrick Brown fell on the loose ball to give Cimarron a 6-0 lead before its offense took the field.
Then, after Cimarron took a 21-7 lead in the second quarter, Brian Townsend fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Spartans the ball at Durango's 22. Three plays later, Arnold Parker ran 18 yards for the touchdown that broke the Blazers' back.
Durango turned a first-quarter fake punt into a 40-yard touchdown pass from Gomez to Jason Carpenter to take a 7-6 lead.
But Charles Sanford returned the Durango kickoff to the Trailblazer 44, and it took Cimarron just three plays to retake the lead.
Quarterback Toby Smeltzer dodged the rush of Eric Zika, then lofted a pass to Ross Dalton. Dalton tipped the ball away from Carpenter, who was defending, before hauling it in and running 37 yards for a 14-7 Cimarron lead.
It was the first of seven consecutive touchdowns for the Spartans. Three of the scores came from Arnold Parker, who finished with 96 rushing yards on 19 carries. It was the first time this year the sophomore fell short of 100 yards.
Leonard DeRoche had a 37-yard TD run, Smeltzer ran in from 13 yards out, and backup quarterback Andrew Mason added a 1-yard dive.
Durango's Scott Freel, who was second in the conference in passing this year, threw for 137 yards, completing 12 of 24 passes. But none of them went for touchdowns.
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