Resurrection Christian's defense proved its two upsets in the state football playoffs were no fluke, but Bayfield's defense continued to prove why it is the best in the state.
The No. 3 Bayfield High School Wolverines (12-0) drove 423-miles with one objective, and that was to win a semifinal game to earn the right to host next week's state championship. Bayfield had little trouble in beating the No. 15 Cougars 21-0 on Saturday at Weld County District 6 Stadium in Greeley.
"The kids played real hard all game long," BHS head coach Gary Heide said. "They had belief in themselves and a belief that we would never let (Resurrection Christian) have a big momentum change. This win is a tribute to the mentality of our kids."
The Wolverines will host No. 4 La Junta (11-1) at 1 p.m. Nov. 25 in the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 2A State Football Playoffs championship game. Bayfield has won a program record 18 consecutive games at Wolverine Country Stadium.
"Quite frankly, it doesn't matter who comes to Bayfield," Heide said. "We're looking forward to playing a championship game at home. We have to clean up a few things and get better, but our defense keeps giving us opportunities and we're taking advantage of them."
Bayfield's defense recored its fifth consecutive shutout, a new school record. The Wolverines haven't allowed a point in 23 quarters and have recored eight shutouts in 12 games this season.
"At this point, we're expected to do this," BHS senior Hunter Killough said of yet another shutout. "We all have the mindset that we're not going to let anyone score on us. Resurrection Christian got the ball to our (4-yard line) and we still stepped up and made plays to keep them out."
The Wolverines built a 14-0 lead at halftime against the Cougars (7-5) behind a pair of touchdown passes from Hayden Farmer. He hit Carl Heide on a 58-yard TD pass to give Bayfield a 7-0 lead with 4 minutes, 2 seconds to play in the first quarter. He added an 8-yard TD pass to Dax Snooks to increase the lead to 14-0 with 6:59 to go in the second quarter. The Snooks touchdown was his 14th receiving TD of the year. Big runs by Killough helped set up the score, as he ran for 68 yards on five carriers during the drive.
"Resurrection had a good defense and came hard," said Killough, who led all BHS ball carriers with 92 yards on 12 carries. "Any team that blitzes hard and as much as they do, they're gonna make some plays. We made a few more plays and got a couple drives rolling."
The two teams exchanged punts and turnovers on downs much of the second half. Bayfield's defensive line dominated play and backed the Cougars up any time they started to find positive yards, including once when Resurrection Christian had the ball on the Bayfield 4-yard line. The Cougars would go on to turn it over on downs after a fourth-and-9 pass fell incomplete. Ryan Phelps had a big sack as the Cougars faced second-and-goal from the 4. It was one of his three sacks on the day, and the Wolverines collected five sacks as a team. Phelps pushed his state lead in sacks to 20 this season.
"We knew they would be passing all day, and coach told us we had to get back and get pressure so they didn't have too much time to set up a throw," Phelps said. "I had 13 sacks last year and one the year before that. I mean, it's crazy to think I have 20. All the credit goes to my team and coaches."
A blocked punt by Daniel Westbrook in the fourth quarter gave Bayfield the ball at the 1-yard line. David Hawkins walked into the end zone to extend the Bayfield lead to 21-0. Hawkins finished with 44 rushing yards on 10 carries. Carl Heide ran five times for 29 yards.
The Wolverines had a chance to add one more score late, but Farmer was intercepted by Resurrection Christian's Zane Zuhlke. Farmer finished 6-of-15 passing for 116 yards.
Killough recorded an interception with 12.3 seconds remaining to give Bayfield the ball back and end the game. It was his seventh interception of the season.
"That was an incredible feeling," Killough said of his second game-ending interception of the season. "Knowing in that moment that we were gonna be able to go back to the big game and bring the championship game to Bayfield, there's nothing bigger."
No. 4 La Junta blasted No. 8 Eaton 42-0 on Saturday in Eaton in the other semifinal game. La Junta and Bayfield have met in the semifinals the last two seasons. Bayfield won 47-7 in 2015 and went on to beat Platte Valley in the state championship. La Junta beat Bayfield 14-13 in the 2016 semifinals and went on to beat Kent Denver for the state championship. The home team has won both games.
The two will meet again next Saturday for the state championship.
"We've got no school this week, so we can think about football all week," Phelps said. "We want revenge on them. They're coming to our place, and we want to give them a taste of what our home field is all about."