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Mancos, Dove Creek ready for gridiron showdown

Kail Wayman stiff arms a Dove Creek tackler on the way to a big gain in last year’s game. (Sam Green/Special to The Journal)
Bluejays and Bulldogs win league openers to set up high stakes rivalry game

For the past five years, you’d be hard-pressed to find a rivalry statewide that has produced drama on the level of Mancos and Dove Creek meetings under the Friday night lights.

With the added flavor of a pair of five-set volleyball matches shared by the two small school powers, the 2023 edition of the Bluejays-Bulldogs Brawl carries plenty of meaning on both the local level, as well as carrying significant postseason ramifications.

Mancos pays a visit to the Soper Sports Complex in Dove Creek sporting a 4-1 record, having collected a forfeit victory over Sargent to open league play. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, had to grind out a road victory over Sanford, outlasting the Mustangs 30-28, to improve to 5-1.

Cole Dainty-Guilfoyle blocks for Kail Wayman Friday as Mancos beat Monticello 52-13 last year.(Sam Green/Special to The Journal)

If the past four regular season meetings are any indicator, fans can expect another wild ride in a matchup that will go a long way in deciding the Mountain League champion. Dove Creek and Mancos have traded each of their last four regular season meetings, with the road team going 4-0 in that stretch. Each of the contests were decided by a one possession-margin – including Dove Creek’s 34-26 win in last year’s regular season encounter.

Dove Creek broke the regular season pattern with a 44-14 win in the 2022 semifinals over Mancos, a game remembered vividly by both sides – as Dove Creek advanced to, and then won, the program’s first state title game.

This year’s contest will feature two of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the classification, with seniors Kail Wayman of Mancos and Colten Fury of Dove Creek hoping to breakdown the opposition’s stingy defense.

Seniors Taber Dejane of Dove Creek and Levi Martin of Mancos have seen the bulk of the touches out of the backfield for their respective squads.

The battle in the trenches looks to again be a defining feature of which team will dictate their vision for the contest – as Mancos’ Cole Dainty-Guilfoyle and Dove Creek’s Mike Coffey have enjoyed stellar seasons as part of fast defensive fronts.

Action kicks off at 7 p.m. from Dolores County, with coverage on local radio station 98.7 FM KRTZ providing all the play-by-play coverage of what hopes to be another classic encounter between the two standout programs.