Pride of Hotchkiss: Bulldogs ready for big stage today against Burlington
Hotchkiss is ready for the limelight.
The second-seeded Bulldogs travel to face No. 3 Burlington at 1 p.m. today in the semifinals of the Class 1A playoffs.
This is the first time since 1991 the Bulldogs have advanced this far in the postseason.
“We had lost in the quarterfinals the last two years and we were pretty disappointed with those performances,” Hotchkiss coach Zac Lemon said. “So we were excited to get over the hump and happy to be where we are.”
The Bulldogs advanced to this round with a 49-9 rout of Lyons.
Hotchkiss actually trailed 3-0 after the first quarter, but scored 35 straight points to take a 35-3 lead in the third quarter.
“We executed and made the right adjustments,” Lemon said.
Hotchkiss has defeated its first two playoff opponents, Lutheran Parker and Lyons, by a combined score of 96-17, and the win over Lyons was the 10th time in 11 games the Bulldogs have scored at least 40 points.
The Bulldogs’ steady play all season is what makes them dangerous. The average score of a Hotchkiss victory is 49-9.
“We’ve been pretty consistent regardless of the opponent, and that’s something we are excited about,” Lemon said. “We prepare the same for everyone and that helps us stay consistent.”
One of the most consistent aspects of the Bulldogs is the quarterback play of senior Ryan Spor. The three-year starter gives Hotchkiss a dual-threat player under center.
Spor has thrown for 1,201 yards this season with 14 touchdowns.
“We have been very pleased with the way Ryan Spor has been playing,” Lemon said. “He’s still getting better.”
The Bulldogs run a triple-option attack, with Spor rushing for 527 yards on only 73 carries, with 10 rushing touchdowns.
“We feel he’s not getting the notice he should,” Lemon said. “But we know him at a different level and we’ve watched him lead and know what he’s capable of.”
Spor had one of his best games of the season in the Bulldogs’ win last week. Spor completed 11 of 13 passes for 224 yards and one touchdown.
The challenge only gets bigger this week against Burlington. The Cougars are 10-1 and on a nine-game winning streak.
Burlington has different options out of the backfield, starting with running backs Christian Ramos and Colin Eberhart. The two have combined for 1,186 yards and 19 touchdowns.
“They are big and have good size, but it’s nothing we’re not used to,” Lemon said.
The Cougars are similar to Hotchkiss both offensively and defensively with Burlington running a triple-option and a 3-5 on defense.
“We are going to have a scout team that can run their stuff effectively,” Lemon said. “We have an idea on what they’ll do on both sides and prepare for it.”
Lemon expects a good crowd when the two teams kick off today, despite the 401-mile trip to Burlington.
“I have to thank our community because they travel really well,” Lemon said. “It helps when you travel 350 miles and have a big crowd to play in front of.”