STRASBURG – Everything that high school playoff football is supposed to be about was found on Winter Field on a perfect Saturday afternoon.

A back and forth game between two talented teams ended with one of them dancing in a celebration worthy of state championship proportions and the other devastated, giving everything it had and coming up short by just a single point.

That one point can probably be attributed to home field advantage as Strasburg snagged a 28-27 overtime over Wray to advance to the Class 1A football state championship game.

All that’s standing between the Indians and their first state title since 2017 is a Limon team that has become incredibly difficult to beat at this time of the year.

“They’re the best the team,” Strasburg coach Brian Brown said. “They’re kind of the standard of team that everyone has to look at. They’re going to come in just as physical and they’re going to do exactly what they do.”

That’s a problem for next week.

The problem this week was getting by a Wray team that played in that 1A title game a year ago and if anyone was as hungry for a shot at the Badgers, it was Wray.

Strasburg (10-2 overall) struck first with a. 71-yard touchdown pass from Landen Martin to Paul Smith on the final play of the first quarter. The Indians were adamant about establishing the run and mixing in some big shots when they could and that touchdown pass was the right play at the right time.

“Our offense has so many different weapons and so many ways it can hurt people,” Martin said. “When one thing gets shut down for a bit, we’re not afraid to go a different direction and we found a way to come up big today.”

(Dan Mohrmann/

The Eagles answered on a short touchdown run from Casey Midcap but Strasburg countered with a more sustained drive that ended with a Martin touchdown run from three yards out, giving the Indians a 14-7 lead at halftime.

And then the fun started.

Strasburg was held to a three-and-out to start the second half and Sam Meisner tied the game on a touchdown run for Wray. The Eagles (8-4) took their first lead of the game on a Midcap 1-yard with 5:23 left in the game.

Wray’s run defense wasn’t allowing much in the fourth quarter. Strasburg kept getting opportunities to pull even, the best of which coming on a Smith interception, but they couldn’t convert. It took another deep shot, this one from Martin to Damien Garcia.

“I wasn’t expecting that,” Smith said. “I ran my route but the next thing I know, my boy Damien is running down the field for a touchdown and I couldn’t be happier.”

Despite having the ball deep in Strasburg territory, Wray couldn’t regain the lead and the game moved into overtime. It took just two plays for Smith to score a rushing touchdown and Julian Valencia converted a crucial extra point, one that according to the Strasburg PA man, made him the state’s all-time leader in extra points.

Wray also scored in two plays and right away decided to go for two.

The snap went to Meisner but he was swallowed up and stopped short, giving Strasburg the win and their first appearance in the 1A title game since 2020.

The battle and the emotion will likely linger with each side for years to come, but when it comes to playoff football, this was 48-plus minutes that everyone craves for in late November.

“There’s nothing better,” Smith said. “I’d rather go out and beat a team 35-28 in overtime than go out and win 64-0. You have to go out and want it more and that’s what I love.”

Strasburg will face Limon at 1 p.m. at the CSU-Pueblo Thunderbowl next Saturday. Limon has three straight wins over Strasburg in state title games.

(Dan Mohrmann/