Hotchkiss one win from hosting state championship game

Since week one, during conditioning drills, Hotchkiss High School football coach Zac Lemon has told his players to work as though they’re preparing for the state championship.

“If we’re fortunate,” Lemon told them, “we’ll be the state champ.”

No. 2 Hotchkiss (11-0) is two wins away.

The Bulldogs will travel across the state to play No. 11 Wiggins (8-3) — just west of Fort Morgan — at 1 p.m. Saturday in a Class 1A state semifinal.

“Regardless of the opponent, we prepare as though it’s the state championship,” Lemon said.

The Bulldogs plan to leave this morning and stop at Battle Mountain High School around noon to practice.

Although there’s excitement brewing in Bulldog country, Lemon said the town — and the team — are simply meeting expectations.

“This is where we expected to be all along,” Lemon said. “No one’s surprised.”

Under its triple-option offense, Hotchkiss has outscored its opponents this season 523-89.

That option is led by running back Jaime Rodriguez, who has 1,342 yards rushing and piled up more than 300 yards rushing in the Bulldogs’ 49-21 quarterfinal win over Resurrection Christian, and Jacobe Galley (1,533 yards rushing).

Should the Bulldogs win Saturday, they will host the Class 1A state championship game Nov. 26.

Because Hotchkiss has traveled two weeks in a row, the Bulldogs have the homefield advantage for the title game.

That would be especially nice if top-seeded Burlington defeats Lyons this week in the other semifinal. Burlington is only a few miles west of the Colorado-Kansas state line, more than 400 miles from Hotchkiss.

In other area action, No. 4 Rifle (11-0) hosts No. 5 Windsor (10-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday in a Class 3A quarterfinal.

No. 8 Olathe (8-2) plays at No. 1 Brush (11-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday in a Class 2A quarterfinal.


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