It had been eight years since Montezuma-Cortez had won a football playoff game. This year, the Panthers already have two, but those alone aren’t what make this postseason run special.

Reaching the Class 2A semifinals is the historical feat. The Panthers haven’t been a game away from playing for a state title in quite some time. In fact, the last time Montezuma-Cortez played in the state semifinals, the Denver Broncos were three years away from taking the field as an AFL franchise.

It’s been, quite literally, a lifetime.

But that streak ends Saturday as the Panthers make the trek to Eaton to take on the defending 2A champion. The last time the Panthers played in the semis, they beat Canon City 25-13 and went on to lose to Trinidad in the state championship game.

Saturday they’ll get another shot to reach the championship. It’ll be quite the challenge but that’s the point of playing this weekend. Every team is good and every game should be competitive. That’s what the semifinals are all about.

(4) The Classical Academy at Delta, Saturday 1 p.m.

Since returning from an early-season injury, Delta quarterback Ty Reed has been very good. And that’s because he hasn’t been forced to be great. He has thrown for eight touchdowns and been picked off just twice since rejoining the Panthers on Oct. 21. With a solid rushing duo in Konner Workman and Esai Carrillo helping to set the tone offensively, Reed is looking to lead No. 1 Delta to its first state championship game since 2019. The team has been fairly dominant in playoffs, winning its two games by a combined score of 79-8.

TCA is certainly no slouch and the Titans started the season with an impressive win over Eaton to prove it. They’re a tough, physical bunch and routinely work with their ground game to find their success. Ethan Aragundi leads the way with 1,226 yards and 16 touchdowns. If he goes for close to his season average of 136.2 yards per game, the Titans could find themselves taking down the classification’s top seed in the state tournament.

(11) Montezuma-Cortez at (2) Eaton, Saturday 1 p.m.

Perhaps no team had a bigger statement game in the playoffs last week like Eaton did. Facing undefeated Basalt, Eaton came out dominant and rolled to a 41-7 win, perhaps regaining its status as the state championship favorite in the process. Walker Martin was on point, completing all six of his pass attempts for 157 yards and three touchdowns. He, De Angelo Rosas and Ryder True all scored rushing touchdowns to put an exclamation point on the quarterfinal win over the Longhorns.

Montezuma-Cortez has made a habit of winning close games this season so the main goal is going to be tempering Eaton’s offense to have a chance at the end. The Panthers already have two upset wins in the playoffs, beating Elizabeth 21-7 and Rifle 14-0. One more upset would make for the most historic playoff run for any team still playing in any classification.