Great unknown: Hotchkiss opens Class 1A playoffs with victory over Lutheran-Parker
HOTCHKISS — Sometimes it’s better when you don’t know what you’re up against.
The Hotchkiss High School football team used that philosophy Saturday and succeeded, opening the Class 1A state playoffs with a 47-8 victory over Lutheran-Parker.
“We actually used that to our advantage,” Hotchkiss coach Zac Lemon said. “It’s an unknown opponent. We don’t know anything about them. We have no common opponents. It’s a whole new philosophy coming out and knowing nothing, and we used it to our advantage.
“If we played somebody we played in the past or that has played somebody we played, you always do that mind game of we should be able to do this and that against them. When you don’t know anything about them, you have to play your best.”
Hotchkiss (9-1) pretty much did, but the Bulldogs expect nothing less than competing for a state championship this season. The Bulldogs play this weekend at Lyons (8-2) in the quarterfinals.
“We want to be state champs,” senior quarterback Ryan Spor said. “We’ve been working hard. The last couple years we got to the quarterfinals and had close loses. We’ve pushed it harder this year. Hopefully we’ll keep it rolling.”
Spor led a Hotchkiss offense that produced 373 yards (201 rushing, 172 passing). He completed 5 of 6 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Jaime Rodriguez and Jacobe Galley combined to run for 192 yards and four touchdowns.
“They really committed a lot to our run,” Lemon said. “We had to mix it up to get some things able to work.”
Conner Beard caught two passes for 100 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown. Gage Grimmett had three catches for 72 yards and one TD.
As well as the offense played, the defense’s results may be more impressive against a Lions offense that runs anything from a traditional power I running attack to a shotgun spread offense.
“We didn’t know what to expect from them,” Lemon said. “We prepared for everything and had confidence they wouldn’t be able to catch us off-guard.
“It’s hard to prepare for that. We made sure we were aligned right and had a general idea of what they were going to do.”
Hotchkiss limited Lutheran (6-4) to five first downs and 178 yards in total offense (55 rushing, 123 passing).
Although Hotchkiss shut down the Lions’ offense, the Bulldogs scored on their first four possessions for a 28-0 lead.
The defense set up the last score when Grimmett intercepted Smith and returned it into Lutheran territory.
Hotchkiss scored with 34 seconds left in the first half on a Rodriguez 15-yard run.
The Bulldogs opened the second half with a Galley 58-yard TD run for a 41-0 lead.
It was the ninth time this season the Bulldogs reached the 40-point lead mark and forced the mercy rule with a running clock.
Although Lutheran scored with 3:58 left in the third quarter, it wasn’t long before the Bulldogs had another victory sealed.
The fourth quarter went by quickly. At one time, it took the officials several minutes during the running clock to sort out intentional grounding and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Paonia 48, Rye 24: The Eagles avenged a first-round playoff loss against the same team that knocked them out last year.
Paonia quarterback Casey Gillenwater completed 14 of 24 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for another score.
The Eagles (5-5) host Limon (9-1) this weekend in the state quarterfinals.
Hayden defeated Monte Vista 48-21 in the 1A first round.