There won’t be any secrets on the field when Limon heads to Strasburg for the 1A state championship game. Not only is the game a rematch of last year’s state final, Saturday also marks the fourth meeting between the two clubs the last two years and sixth over the past four.
The most recent battle came on September 28th of this year as Strasburg spoiled Limon’s homecoming with a 20-13 victory. Two sequences in our mind determined the outcome and gave the win to the Indians. Limon led 13-7 midway through the second quarter and seemed in control but Jack Swanson then returned an interception inside the Badgers 20-yard line. On the next play, Trystran Graf scored and the extra point gave Strasburg a 14-13 halftime edge. The score remained the same to the fourth quarter where, playing into a strong wind, Strasburg converted a third and nine from near their own 30 yard line. A punt there likely would have given the ball to Limon near midfield and in position to score the winning touchdown. Instead, the Indians followed up the conversion by driving the length of field to score the clinching touchdown with a minute remaining.
Neither team was able to muster much offense as Strasburg ran for 180 yards and three scores. Limon picked up 119 yards on the ground with both touchdowns coming on runs by Jeremiah Leeper. The Indians threw for just 52 yards and the Badgers 41.
Defense also dominated last year’s title game as Limon won the championship game 13-7. Strasburg scored first and held a 7-0 halftime advantage before Kory Tacha led the Badgers comeback with two one yard touchdown runs. The winning score came with 11:00 left in the game and then the Badgers twice turned away Strasburg drives. The Indians also dropped a potential game winning touchdown pass in the end zone late in the contest.
Again the offensive numbers were not impressive. Strasburg ran 60 plays to just 48 for Limon and totaled 175 yards rushing. Michael Burns, who returns to the lineup this year, led the Indians with 47 yards. Limon generated just 110 yards rushing including 40 from Tacha. Both teams threw for exactly 41 yards on only 14 combined attempts.
While both defenses played a high level last year, a major reason for the low yardage totals was weather; most specifically high winds. A similar type of game could be in store this year as the Saturday forecast calls for temperatures in the 30’s but winds out of the Northwest between 20-25 mph. Combine those conditions with the familiarity of the two teams, then points could again be a premium.
Limon’s offense focuses on the run and is led by a pair of 1,000 yard rushers in Tacha (1,341) and Leeper (1,019). Leeper has reached the end zone 20 times and Tacha 13. Tacha also averages 8.8 yards per carry with Leeper at 5.5.
QB Trey Hines has thrown for 885 yards and 10 TD’s but also has five interceptions. His top target is tight end Alex Carr with 17 catches including four touchdowns. Tacha is next with 13 catches with three scores.
Strasburg counters with the 1-2 punch of Graf and Collin Russell. Graff is the top rusher (1,278 yards) and top receiver (24 catches) with 20 touchdowns overall. Russell is at 1,176 yards and 17 TD’s passing against just three interceptions. He’s also added 515 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
AJ Hemphill is the top receiver with 17 catches including six for scores. He also tops the defense with 99 tackles; Matthias Brown is next with 64. Overall the Indians have 78.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage to go along with 22.5 sacks. They’ve forced 16 turnovers on the year including nine interceptions. Swanson leads that list with four including two in the regular season win over Limon.
Ky Bandy, with 132 tackles, spearheads the Limon defense. Brayden Tacha is next with 86 and Logan Marx has 70. The Badgers have collected 20 turnovers including three fumble recoveries from Trey Jeffries.
Both clubs head into Saturday very familiar with a championship setting. Strasburg, which has won 48 of 51 games since joining the 1A ranks in 2016, is playing in their fourth consecutive final. They won titles in 2016 and 2017 before coming up short last season. Limon is 23-2 over the past two seasons and holds the Colorado record with 18 state championships.
- History: Last year’s championship battle is the only previous playoff matchup between the two schools. Strasburg has four state championships in school history and in addition to winning in 2016-17, the Indians also went back-to-back in 1989-90. They’re 4-1 all-time in the state finals and are 24-11 all-time in the playoffs. Limon is trying to win at least two consecutive state titles for the fifth time in their history. The Badgers won three-in-a-row from 2003-05, two straight in 1978-79, six straight between 1963-68 and three consecutive crowns from 1959-61. Limon is 17-8-1 all-time in state championship games and has won eight of their titles on the road including last year. The Badgers are 92-39-1 all-time in post-season play.
LIMON VS STRASBURG (ALL-TIME)
A big thanks to Limon football historian Craig Bailey who provides Colorado Preps with a complete history of games between the Indians and Badgers. As mentioned, the only playoff meeting between the two clubs came last season, but they’ve also met 21 times during the regular season. Results below are courtesy of Bailey. The series is almost evenly split with Limon winning 11 games and Strasburg 10. Bailey also tells us the Badgers and Indians have played 11 times at Winter Field in Strasburg. Limon holds the advantage there with eight wins and just three losses.
- 1981: Limon 44-12
- 1985: Limon 17-14
- 1986: Strasburg 58-12
- 1987: Strasburg 16-14
- 1988: Strasburg 19-12
- 1989: Strasburg 27-0
- 1990: Strasburg 54-0
- 1991: Limon 17-14
- 1994: Limon 35-6
- 1995: Limon 26-14
- 1998: Strasburg 20-6
- 1999: Limon 21-19
- 2002: Strasburg 27-20 (3 OT)
- 2003: Limon 37-6
- 2004: Limon 42-18
- 2005: Limon 40-0
- 2016: Strasburg 42-13
- 2017: Strasburg 14-12
- 2018: Limon 36-6
- 2018: Limon 13-7 (State championship)
- 2019: Strasburg 20-13