The top three teams in 1A football stayed the same most of the year and each squad found out its playoff matchups when the brackets were released last Sunday morning.
Two-time defending state champion and three-time defending Western Slope Conference Champion Paonia (8-1) will play 14th-seeded Ellicott at Paonia Town Park on Saturday.
"We had a guess we might end up facing them," Paonia coach Brent McRae said. This is McRae's third season at the Eagles helm and third straight appearance in the playoffs.
The Thunderhawks finished 6-3 in the Tri Peaks Conference, the same one that produced overall No. 1-seed Buena Vista (9-0), which opens the playoffs against Centauri.
"We know Ellicott throws the ball around a lot, they spread it out and use the pistol formation. They've got a nice junior quarterback," McRae said. "They're very aggressive on defense, play tight on the line. They make big plays, get some big tackles, but they give up some big plays, too."
Cedaredge (7-2) earned the 12th seed in the brackets and will go on the road to face Crowley County in Ordway this weekend. The Chargers are 8-1.
"If we get another chance to play this game, we're going to give it all we have," said Bruins coach Brandon Milholland. "We don't care who it's against, we're just going to play as hard as we can with what we've got."
Meeker (6-3) made it three teams from the Western Slope Conference to get into the brackets when the Cowboys claimed the 10th seed. They will open on the road this weekend in Bailey against Platte Canyon (7-1).
The Huskies' sole loss of the season came against overall No. 2-seed Resurrection Christian (9-0), which looms as a potential semifinal matchup for Paonia.
Unlike last season, there will not be four Western Slope Conference teams in the playoffs, as Hotchkiss lost to Meeker last weekend 36-14 to finish its season at 3-6. A win in that game probably would have gotten the Bulldogs into the 16-team field, but the Cowboys were just too strong for Hotchkiss to secure a win at home.
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