Two teams off to a strong start to the season look to pick up a key nonconference win Friday night.
With just 16 teams making the Class 5A playoffs, every game carries extra magnitude.
Friday pits Fossil Ridge — off to its best start in school history — against a Poudre team looking to build a strong nonconference resume.
Including Friday’s 7 p.m. game at French Field, the Impalas (2-1) have just two nonconference games left after playing on Zero Week. They’re coming off a big last-second win over Fort Collins last Friday.
Fossil Ridge (2-0) looks to continue its best start in school history and sweep all three city opponents after edging Rocky Mountain last week.
The SaberCats won last year’s matchup 17-14 on a last-second field goal after a long lightning delay to start the game. Here are keys to this year’s edition of the rivalry.
To win, Poudre must: Force turnovers. The Impalas started fast (3-0) last season in large part because of the ability to force turnovers and protect the ball.
Poudre hasn’t been able to take the ball away this year, with zero interceptions in three games.
In their lone loss to Mountain Vista, the Impalas threw three interceptions. In their two wins, they were even or positive in the turnover category.
Fossil Ridge quarterback hasn’t thrown an interception this season and the SaberCats are on the plus side in turnovers.
If Poudre wins the turnover battle, the Impalas can move to 3-1.
To win, Fossil Ridge must: Contain Erickson. Poudre running back JT Erickson leads 5A with 513 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
His strong running allows Poudre to have a diverse, unpredictable offense that mixes runs and quick throws.
Fossil Ridge’s defense is allowing only 3.8 yards per carry and the SaberCats haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher this season.
The front four will need to get penetration on Poudre’s offensive line to disrupt run plays and slow Erickson.
Stifling Poudre’s rushing attack will go a long way toward moving to 3-0.
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.
Poudre vs. Fossil Ridge, 7 p.m. Friday at French Field
Twitter updates: @Kevin_Lytle