Hotchkiss psyched for playoff trip to Limon
Not often is there a team that looks forward to a six-hour bus ride.
Well, one group that’s champing at the bit to get on the bus and travel more than 350 miles is the Hotchkiss High School football team.
The Bulldogs are in the quarterfinal round of the Class 1A playoffs, and as the lower seed, No. 5 Hotchkiss travels to No. 4 Limon to play on Saturday at 1 p.m.
“We are excited about the road trip,” Hotchkiss coach Zac Lemon said. “We want to play somewhere different in a tough environment.”
Last season, the Bulldogs advanced to the same round of the playoffs, but hosted both games in Hotchkiss. Being that an eastern team has won every 1A state championship since 2001, Lemon is eager to see that type of football first hand.
“We’re excited to get to play on the Eastern Plains where they have dominated at 1A,” Lemon said. “We can see what the home crowds are like over there.”
Hotchkiss is taking on a Limon team that has had some recent success — the Badgers won three straight 1A state titles from 2003-05. This season, Limon is 9-1, with its lone loss coming to last year’s state champion, Akron. Last week, the Badgers defeated Wiggins 49-16 to move into the quarterfinals.
“We did a two-game film exchange with them,” Lemon said. “We know they have a certain philosophy, and what they’ve done the last two games is what they’ve done the last five years with a lot of success.”
Limon is led by one of the best quarterbacks in the state in Matt Brown. A 6-foot-3, 190-pound, three-year starter, Brown has passed for more than 4,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in his career at Limon.
“They have the top 1A quarterback in the state,” Lemon said. “They have good role players around him, so we’ll have to be ready for different things.”
The one thing Lemon is preparing for is an offensive battle. The Bulldogs are ready to go blow-for-blow with the Badgers using their relentless running attack. Last week in a 49-0 win over Dolores, the Bulldogs ran for 331 yards on only 31 carries, an average of 10.6 yards per carry. Running backs Tyler Hanson and Jaime Rodriguez led the way with 160 and 94 yards, respectively.
“We know they will be able to get some stuff against us, but we know we’ll be able to score, too,” Lemon said. “So it’ll be the little things.”
Like with any football game at this point in the season, little things like field position and turnovers will be important. Those are things Lemon said the Bulldogs will have to control if they want to win.
“We know we can move the ball and get stops, so we can’t get into long yardage and put our defense in short field situations,” Lemon said. “We can’t give them easy opportunities. We have to make them move the ball, if we can do that we’ll be successful.”