1A FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW

1A Football Championship Preview

Saturday’s matchup between Limon and Strasburg for the Class 1A football championship pits the most storied program in Colorado history against one that has dominated the division since joining before the start of the 2016 season.  Limon has the most football titles of any school in Colorado (17) while Strasburg has won the last two crowns in Class 1A and lost just two games in three years since dropping in from Class 2A.

For Strasburg, the situation is somewhat similar to a year ago when they lost to Bennett in the regular season but came back to knock off the Tigers in a state semifinal.  This year, Strasburg’s lone loss came against Limon (36-6) in the regular season but they have a chance to avenge that loss in the playoffs and if successful, land a third consecutive state championship.  If they do so, the Indians will be the third team to win three straight in Class 1A since 2005 joining Limon and Akron.

In the regular season meeting, Limon ran for 352 yards with four different players reaching the end zone.  Kory Tacha led the team with 81 yards, Cannan Bennett 78, Hauk Hubbard 56 and Celby Hollenbaugh 45.  Defensively, Logan Marx tallied nine tackles, Alex Carr eight and Braden Sandersfeld six as the Badgers gave up just 25 yards rushing and 76 passing.

Now we believe the rematch will be much tighter as Strasburg will be much healthier for round two.  Neither QB Collin Russell or top running back Trystan Graf played in the regular season contest and both are back healthy for the state championship contest.  Their return should make the Indians much more explosive on the offense side of the football.

Both Russell and Graf have impacted Strasburg’s playoff run.  Graf ran for 144 yards and helped the Indians total 431 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in the quarterfinal win over Burlington (42-0).  Russell threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns last week in leading the Indians past Centauri (44-22) in the state semifinals.

The return of Russell and Graf from injury has allowed Michael Spence to lineup at his normal wingback position.  He ran for 37 yards against Buena Vista, 81 against Burlington and caught three passes for 60 yards in last week’s win over Centauri.  Other offensive contributors during the dominant playoff run include Tarek Robinson and Michael Burns.  Robinson ran for 47 yards against Buena Vista and 70 vs Centauri.  Burns opened the post-season with 77 yards vs Buena Vista and went over 100 against both Burlington (106) and Centauri (110).

On defense, leaders include Wyatt Warren, AJ Hemphill and Jon Walters.  Warren and Hemphill each recorded nine tackles against Centauri.  Warren also picked off a pass.  Hemphill had seven tackles including three for loss against Buena Vista.  Walters had six tackles and an interception against Buena Vista.

Limon has been equally dominant in the playoffs rolling past Highland (33-0), Meeker (42-8) and Colorado Springs Christian (36-0) by a combined 103 points.  While the Badgers have the ability to throw the ball well, they haven’t needed to in November as the ground game has generated 841 yards in the three wins.  They ran for 305 yards and five scores against Highland; 202 yards with four rushing TD’s against Meeker and last week totaled 305 yards with five touchdowns in the win over Colorado Springs Christian.

Against Highland, Hauk Hubbard, who has battled injuries throughout the season and now appears healthy, led the way with 114 yards on 22 carries.  Cannan Bennett picked up 82 yards and scored twice.  Jeremiah Leeper added 78 yards on ten carries.

Against Meeker, Tacha led the charge with 124 yards and two touchdowns.  Bennett added 32 and Celby Hollenbaugh added 24.

In last week’s semifinal win, Hubbard ran for 129 yards and Tacha 100.  Leeper added 62 and Bennett 27.

Bennett has attempted just 23 passes in the playoffs with his most effective game coming against Highland where he completed five of seven attempts for 147 yards and two touchdowns.  Braden Sandersfeld caught four passes for 123 yards and one score.

Defensively, the Badgers have given up eight playoff points and only 74 for the entire season.  Different players seem to step up each week and that trend has continued in the post-season.  Marx had 12 tackles, Javier Zamora and Tacha 10 apiece against Highland.  Dominik Bratskovski paced the group with seven tackles and Jaron Carpenter six against Meeker.  Drew Albers added five stops in that win.  Last week, Zamora topped the tackles chart with 11 followed Hubbard with 10 and Sandersfeld and Carpenter with eight apiece.  The defense also has four interceptions in three playoff wins.

The two teams have combined for 21 state championships but this is the first-ever playoff meeting between the two.  According to Limon football historian Craig Bailey, the two schools have met 20 times in the regular season.  Limon, as mentioned, won the battle this year and that gave the Badgers a 10-9 overall series lead.  They’ve played each other the past three years with Strasburg winning the first two before suffering the loss this season.

Limon’s all-time playoff record is 88-39-2 with their last state title coming in 2005 where they finished off a run to three consecutive crowns.  Their last finals appearance came in 2007 in a 46-14 loss to Akron.  The Badgers are 16-8-1 all-time in state championship games.

This is Strasburg’s fifth trip to a state final and they’ve won their previous four.  In addition to winning the last two state championships, the Indians also went back-to-back in 1989-90.  Strasburg is 21-0 all-time in the playoffs with 11 wins coming in the last three years (11-0).  Before the 2016 campaign, the Indians were 10-10 in post-season games.

Kickoff is set for 1:00pm on Saturday in Strasburg.  The game can be seen live through a video stream at nfhsnetwork.com.

 

 

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Kevin Shaffer
About Kevin Shaffer 1168 Articles
Kevin Shaffer is the founder and owner of the Colorado Preps Network which debuted in the summer of 2003. Kevin and his wife Lanette reside in Fort Morgan and are the proud parents of Lexi and Tyler.

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