Kickoff: Saturday, 1 p.m., Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy

Quick hits: The greatest day of December (though some might argue that) comes Saturday with the football state championships for the big schools, and for the first time the 3A game will take place at the Air Force Academy thanks to the Palmer Ridge Booster Club ... Gates will open at 11 a.m. and fans should be prepared to enter the North Gate of the USAFA with up-to-date identification and car registration ... As for the football game, it matches a vaunted Bears passing attack against Erie's run-heavy offense. The state's second-leading quarterback is PRHS' Ty Evans (3,318 yards) while Erie counters with Colorado's leading running back, Noah Roper (2,537 yards). Both are juniors ...


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Evans was injured during last week's game against Palisade but still went 10-for-14 with 108 yards in a 28-14 win. The Bears actually ran the football for 259 yards and three touchdowns, showing a little bit of take-what-they-give-you offensively ... Palmer Ridge hasn't allowed more than 14 points in a game the past nine contests. Zach Hester and the defense this entire season allowed just 110 while accumulating 54.5 sacks and 33 turnovers ... Roper surpassed 200 rushing yards for the ninth time this past week, going for 255 and two touchdowns against Longmont. Jacob Mansdorfer also scored twice and now has exactly 700 total yards of offense this season ... Erie thoroughly dominated Longmont in the last round, as the Trojans only credited themselves with 17 minutes of possession and 2.8 yards per carry on the ground ... Nathan Hackney recorded his team-leading seventh sack Saturday. Erie has 33.5 sacks this season.

Bottom line: Any given... Saturday, as it applies here, is the mindset the Erie Tigers must take against what will arguably be its toughest opponent in the two years under Chad Cooper's guidance. The Bears might get a big strike or two, and it's up to Erie to shake them off and counter with what it has done all season — run the football and rely on a great offensive line to eat up some clock.

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