SLATER -- If the Slater football team is going to make a move up in the Class 1, District 6 seedings, Friday's game at Lewis and Clark Conference foe Paris may be its last good opportunity.
The Coyotes had won only one game heading into last week's 33-16 victory at Fayette, coming from behind with 20 second-half points. Meanwhile, the Wildcats lost to second-ranked Salisbury, 35-0, but the defense hung tough despite a lack of offensive production.
Slater (1-5, 0-2 L&C) heads into the contest as the No. 6 seed in its district, is within five points of both Fayette in fourth and Princeton in fifth. The 'Cats lost to Paris a year ago, 62-19, a victory of a slow start -- trailing 34-7 at halftime.
The Coyotes (2-4, 1-1) get the bulk of their offense from senior quarterback Steven Hayhurst, who has thrown for 400 yards and three touchdowns -- with seven interceptions in 69 attempts -- and leads the team in rushing with 364 yards and four TDs. Their top receiver is sophomore Slater Stone, with 15 receptions for 216 yards and two scores.
Senior linebacker Justin Wolfe is averaging 11.0 tackles per game and has forced two fumbles, one reason Paris is plus-two in the turnover category. With only four sacks, the Coyotes haven't shown much ability to pressure the pocket.
After this game, the 'Cats have a rugged final two weeks before the start of the district tournament, with games ahead against 10th-ranked Westran and Marceline -- which handed the Hornets their only loss, 16-13, last week.
ALMA -- Even with last week's 54-27 win over Sweet Springs, Santa Fe remains seeded seventh in Class 1, District 4.
The Chiefs (3-3, 2-3 I-70) will have a good chance to add to its points Friday at winless Orrick, but climbing the standings will be difficult in what is shaping up as a strong district. The three teams directly ahead of them play mediocre opponents this week.
Through the first half of the 2000 decade, Santa Fe's clash with the Bearcats had an impact on the I-70 Conference championship. However, after winning back-to-back state titles in 2007-08, Orrick has been on the decline -- going 1-9 last year, including a 45-0 loss to the Chiefs.
The 'Cats (0-6, 0-5) have been out-scored 279-50 this season, although senior Derrick Dennis has had a solid campaign. He's accounted for 739 of the team's 952 rushing yards and scored five of its six touchdowns.
Dennis also leads Orrick's defense from his linebacker's position with 48 tackles, while junior cornerback Wyatt Nail tops the secondary with two interceptions.
With a battle looming with undefeated St. Paul a week away, Santa Fe can't look ahead, nor afford to fail to capitalize on an opportunity for a win.
SWEET SPRINGS -- A slow start doomed Sweet Springs a week ago against Santa Fe, and another one Friday in its home clash with I-70 Conference rival Crest Ridge has to be avoided.
The Cougars (3-3, 3-2 I-70) haven't been a quick-starting club, but have shown the ability to adjust as the game goes on and pull out victories at the end. They scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to claim a 21-7 win over Santa Fe earlier in the season.
The key for the Greyhounds (2-4, 1-3) is containing junior quarterback Ethan Matthews. He's completed 36 of 71 passes for 491 yards and run for 618 yards and nine touchdowns.
Crest Ridge's linebacker duo of senior Taylor Nagel and junior Caleb Thomas has been solid, with 108 tackles between them.
The 'Hounds need at least two wins over the next three games if they are going to have a chance at moving out of the eighth seed in the Class 1, District 4 standings and avoid a first-round contest at third-ranked Tipton.