It is becoming apparent that the Cottonwood Colts are on a mission.
Friday night, Isi Sofele rushed for 138 yards and scored three touchdowns as the Colts stayed on top of the Region 6 standings by cruising past West, 40-0.
The win set up next week's showdown at Highland, and improved Cottonwood's record to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in region. It also was the Colts' third consecutive shutout over a region opponent.
"That's got to be a first," said Cottonwood coach Cecil Thomas with a smile. "We're playing good football."
That's an understatement, and certainly Murray, Cyprus and now West would agree. Together, the Colts have outscored them 119-0. Cottonwood has been impressive in every game it's played.
"I knew they were as good as they were," said West coach Randy Schreiter, whose team fell to 2-1 in region and 3-3 overall. "It's not hard to see it. They play at a level much higher than us. We've moved the ball all year long on people, but tonight they kicked our butt.
"The difference in this team is their speed, and that they keep their cool. They could have mouthed off at our players, but they didn't."
Last year, the Colts were Region 6 co-champions, but were defeated in the second round of the playoffs. They are determined to go further this year.
With Sofele and quarterback Steve Romero leading the way, Cottonwood scored all of its points in the first half. The defense held West to just one first down in the opening half, and that helped Sofele show off his talents.
Every time West punted, the Panthers' fans had to hold their breath. The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Sofele returned one punt for a touchdown, although it was erased by a penalty, and almost broke through on two others. Sofele had two short touchdown runs, then added a 61-yard jaunt to the end zone just before halftime.
"He has it all," said Thomas. "He has vision, his footwork, his speed ... every day, he is at 100 miles per hour."
Cottonwood's defense has probably become better just trying to corral him in practice. Since West's offense was never able to mount a drive until the fourth quarter, the outcome of this game was never in doubt.
Following an 18-yard punt return by Sofele, the Colts scored first when quarterback Steve Romero connected with Spencer Larsen on a 14-yard pass.
The Colts scored again less than two minutes later when West muffed its punt attempt and Levi Card recovered on the 14-yard line. On the next play, Romero showed his athletic ability when the snap sailed over his head. He retrieved it near the 30-yard line, scrambled around and lofted a pass into the end zone that was caught by Brayden Payne.
The real damage occurred in the second quarter. Wide receiver Alo Moli made a nice play keeping his feet inbounds on a touchdown catch. That made the score 20-0 and Sofele scored the rest of the team's touchdowns.
Cottonwood was able to keep its shutout streak going in the second half, although West's offense did improve. The Panthers finished with 163 yards total offense. West moved the ball late in the game to the Colts' 2-yard line, but was stopped on fourth down as time expired.
Panthers' running back Tana Afeaki was the team's workhorse, rushing for 40 yards on 14 carries. Afeaki, who had two long runs last week, only had one run over 10 yards Friday.