Hotchkiss’ high-powered offense to be on display in playoffs

It can be hard to stay motivated when eight wins have come as easily as they have for the Hotchkiss High School football team.

The Bulldogs (8-1) have averaged 50 points per game in their eight wins, allowing an average of nine points in those games.

“We’ve been approaching every game like a playoff game,” Hotchkiss coach Zac Lemon said. “We played the first three quarters like it was a championship game, then in the fourth take kids out to get rest and stay healthy.”

The Bulldogs’ impressive performance this season earned them the No. 2 seed in the Class 1A playoffs.

Hotchkiss hosts Lutheran Parker (6-3) at 1 this afternoon.

Excluding its 29-22 loss to Class 2A Aspen in the third week of the season, Hotchkiss has dominated, scoring the majority of its points (36 per game) in the first half.

Putting teams away early has allowed the Bulldogs’ three-headed rushing attack of quarterback Ryan Spor, tailback Jaime Rodriguez and fullback Jacobe Galley to be fresh heading into the postseason.

That’s a scary thought for the opposition, since Rodriguez has rushed for 927 yards and 21 touchdowns this season. Galley isn’t too far behind with 807 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Spor, the only senior of the three, has 476 yards rushing and 797 yards passing and has thrown 11 touchdown passes.

“We have a great team atmosphere,” Lemon said. “We have to continue to work together and keep playing aggressive.”

This is the third consecutive season the Bulldogs have made the postseason. Last season, Hotchkiss lost to Limon 35-28 in the second round.

“We are playing with a lot more confidence and understanding where we are at,” Lemon said. “We used to not know a lot about the Front Range teams, but now we know we can play with them.”

Hotchkiss is joined in the 1A playoffs by Western Slope Conference teams Hayden and Paonia.

Hayden (5-4) got the No. 9 seed and plays today at No. 8 Monte Vista (7-2). Paonia (4-5) got the No. 12 seed and plays at No. 5 Rye (8-1).

Paonia’s first-round game is a rematch of last year’s first round, with Rye defeating the Eagles 56-27.

“I thought they would shy away from sending us there again,” Paonia coach Craig Cerise said. “I know the kids are excited because we did some good things last year against them.”

The Eagles are led by senior quarterback Casey Gillenwater, who has thrown for 1,451 yards and 14 touchdowns.

The Eagles made the postseason despite their 4-5 overall record. Cerise said the team is motivated to still be playing.

“We could have easily been left out,” Cerise said. “But they’ve been given a second chance, and when they get a second chance, they usually perform pretty well.”


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