When Delta High School quarterback Nolan Bynum takes the snap and surveys the field, he has to like what he sees.
With four players with more than 300 yards receiving, the junior has plenty of options at his disposal.
"It gives me confidence throwing to these guys because I know they will fight for the ball," Bynum said. "Most of the time before the play I have a target in mind, but then I just take what the defense gives me."
Those targets are four seniors — wide receivers Hunter Hughes, Nathan Workman and Skyler Kraai, and tight end Gage Lockhart.
Of Bynum's 2,400 passing yards, all but 64 have gone to that quartet and all 33 of his touchdown passes have been caught by that foursome.
Hughes is the leading receiver for Delta, with 936 yards and 17 touchdowns. Workman has 747 yards receiving and nine touchdowns, Lockhart has 434 yards and four scores and Kraai, who is still working his way back from an ACL injury suffered last season, has 306 yards and three touchdowns.
"Our quarterback doesn't have favorites," Hughes said. "I put a lot of time and effort in the offseason, catching as many balls as possible. That work helped with the timing of the routes and helps (Bynum) to know I'll be where he needs me to be on a certain route."
Hughes had six catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns last weekend in Delta's 17-6 victory over Basalt in the Class 2A semifinals. That win sends the Panthers into Saturday's state title game against Sterling. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at the Neta & Eddie DeRose Thunderbowl on the CSU-Pueblo campus.
Hughes has had more than 100 yards receiving and at least one touchdown in all three of Delta's playoff wins. Workman's big game came in the semifinals against Faith Christian, when he had 200 yards receiving and two touchdowns, including a 98-yard scoring reception.
"We don't care who gets the ball," Workman said. "Every week it's someone different. There's no jealousy. Sometimes we joke when we get back to the huddle if someone has had a big game and we want to get in on the action."
Delta coach Ben Johnson said having multiple pass-catching weapons is a great luxury.
"We have a lot of wealth at the wide receiver position and because of that, you can't just focus on one kid," he said. "The senior receivers have been together for four years and are experienced catching the ball."
That experience will be key Saturday against the Tigers (11-1), who run a similar offense to Delta (11-1). Sterling averages 153.5 yards passing and 170.4 yards rushing per game. The Panthers average 202.2 yards passing and 160.5 yards rushing per game.
Quarterback Brock Shaila is the point man for the Tigers' offense, passing for 1,765 yards with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions and running for 488 yards and six scores. Shaila's top target is Tucker Myers, who has 522 yards receiving with four touchdowns.
Like the Panthers, Sterling also has options at wide receiver with four players collecting more than 300 yards receiving. Running back Conner Polenz gives the Tigers' offense balance, rushing for 559 yards and six touchdowns.
Although both teams feature high-powered offenses, both also are stingy on defense. The Tigers are allowing only 11.2 points per game and the Panthers are giving up only 9.7 points per game.
"Sterling has a good defense, hopefully we can cause them some problems," Johnson said. "Whoever can settle down and deal with the distractions can get the upper hand (Saturday)."
Those distractions include the Thanksgiving holiday and traveling snow-packed roads to Pueblo on Friday for practice and a press conference before the game.
A victory in the title game would be big for both schools.
Delta hasn't won a state football title since 1960 and the Tigers have never won a state football championship. The Panthers' most recent appearance in the state title game was in 1961 and Sterling lost in the 2004 state championship game.
"It's a unique opportunity for our program to do something that hasn't been done," Sterling coach Rob Busmente said.
In order to take home the gold football trophy given to the winning team, both teams will have to slow down the others' aerial attack, which is difficult with all the options available to both quarterbacks.
"When you get this far," Johnson said, "you just want to finish it and win the gold ball."