A total of nine state champions were crowned over the weekend in Denver, four in boys soccer and five in girls volleyball. While no area teams were involved on the pitch, several were in the mix at the Denver Coliseum.
Fleming and Briggsdale emerged from a field of 12 contenders in Class 1A to meet for the title on Saturday night. It was the fifth time this season that the two rivals squared off. Fleming worked its way back from a five-set loss to La Veta on Thursday afternoon to eliminate Haxtun (3-0) on Friday morning and Springfield (3-1) that evening. Saturday morning, the Wildcats would oust Otis (3-0) before meeting up with top-seeded Merino in the semifinals. Fleming would avenge a loss to the Rams in the District 4 finals, bouncing them 3-1.
Briggsdale’s path to the finals began with a 3-0 win over Haxtun in the first match of the tournament, followed by a sweep of Genoa-Hugo on Thursday night. The Falcons kept rolling on Friday, beating Otis in four in the quarterfinals. Saturday afternoon saw them eliminate La Veta 3-0 in the semifinals, setting the stage for their clash with Fleming. As had been the case the previous three meetings, the Wildcats got the better of Briggsdale, winning the title in straight sets. It was their seventh state championship, all since 2007.
Sterling capped its perfect season with the Class 3A championship, earning it in four tough sets against a previously unbeaten Lutheran. The Tigers, who had only dropped three sets all season, had Patriot League rival Eaton take one off them in their first match of the tournament. However, they advanced with a 3-1 victory. Alamosa would also earn a set over the Tigers in Friday’s quarterfinals, but again, Sterling moved forward with the 3-1 win.
Saturday’s semifinals saw Sterling pushed to the limit for the first time during the campaign, as the Tigers ousted a talented Colorado Springs Christian squad 3-2 (15-8 in the fifth). In the finals, Lutheran would claw out a 25-22 win in the opening set, but the Tigers came back to win the next three 25-23, 25-22, 25-23. The win marked the second championship in program history, as the Tigers also won back in 2005.
Class 3A football got its postseason underway over the weekend and Fort Morgan was bounced by Conifer in a rematch from the regular season. The twelfth-seeded Mustangs were tied with the Lobos 7-7 midway through the first quarter, but two quick scores had Conifer up 21-7 at the end of the frame. Fort Morgan got a touchdown pass late in the first half to get back within a TD at 21-14, but that would be as close as they would get the rest of the day. Conifer scored the first 17 points of the second half and went on to a 38-21 victory. The Mustangs ended their season at 7-4.
While their girls were busy rolling through the volleyball tournament, the Sterling Tigers did the same on Saturday in their Class 2A quarterfinal contest with Lamar. Sterling went on top 6-0 in the first quarter, and after scoring three more times in the second, the Tigers led 25-0 at the intermission. Sterling struck again in both the third and fourth quarters, and their defense kept the Savages off the board, allowing the Tigers to claim a 40-0 victory. Lamar, who had won five straight entering the match-up, finished its season at 8-3. As the higher seed, Sterling will host Resurrection Christian in this weekend’s semifinals. Sterling beat the Cougars 13-7 in overtime to open the season.
Holyoke will find itself on the road in the Class 1A semifinals after the Dragons earned a 27-0 shutout over Colorado Springs Christian in the quarterfinals. It was the second win of the season for the Dragons over the Lions, as they also took a 21-6 victory back in week two. In the rematch, Holyoke’s defense took center stage, picking off two passes and holding CSCS to just 118 yards of offense. They will put their 11-0 record on the line when they visit North Central rival Limon on Saturday. The Dragons took a 14-12 victory over the Badgers in the regular season finale, as Limon failed twice on two-point conversions.
The 8-man quarters saw top-seeded Sedgwick County jump out to a 26-0 first period lead over Merino, thanks in part to a scoop-and-score by the defense. The Cougars would get the mercy clock rolling late in the first half and they went on to knock out their fellow Plains division foe, 54-0. Sedgwick County will host another Plains opponent in the semifinals, as Dayspring Christian knocked off Vail Christian 38-28 in the quarterfinals. Sedgwick County won the regular season fight 56-16, as the Cougars erupted for 34 unanswered points in the second half.
Fowler made the most of the long trip to Mancos, as the Grizzlies knocked the Bluejays out of the postseason field, 34-28. Fowler trailed 14-6 after one quarter, but a 22-6 edge in the second gave them a 28-20 lead that they would not relinquish. However, things did get a little interesting in the fourth quarter. Fowler scored to go up 34-20 with around nine minutes left to play, but Mancos returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown and the Bluejays converted the two-point try to get back within six. The Grizzlies took care of things the rest of the way to earn the win. They will be at home this weekend, hosting Pikes Peak Christian, who pulled off a 28-6 upset of No. 2 Sanford last week.
The 6-man finals are set, after Stratton/Liberty and Fleming picked up semifinal wins last week. Stratton/Liberty fell behind 16-6 at Cheyenne Wells as the hosts scored on the first play of the second quarter, but the Tigers, who lost Cade Mitchek to a shoulder injury late in the first quarter, would go more than 22 minutes without scoring. The Knighted Eagles took advantage of that drought and built a 54-16 early in the fourth quarter. Cheyenne Wells found the end zone twice in the final frame, but Stratton/Liberty cruised 62-32. The Knighted Eagles amassed more than 400 yards on the ground.
Fleming found itself in a shootout at Kit Carson, as the two sets of Wildcats were tied at 46 entering the wild fourth quarter. Fleming had to scored two times in the final minutes of the third to send the game into the fourth tied, and a Brandon Williams rushing TD gave them the 52-46 lead early in the period. Kit Carson responded immediately on a Jayden McCombs-Farmer run. Williams gave the lead back to Fleming with his fourth TD on the ground, with just over three minutes to play. After a defensive stand, Williams reached paydirt a fifth time, pushing the Fleming lead to 68-52. Fleming’s defense forced a turnover in the final minutes to preserve the victory.
The Wildcats will be at Stratton on Saturday, for the 1pm kickoff against the Knighted Eagles. Stratton/Liberty is in the finals for the third straight year. They finished second in 2017 and won it all last year. The Knighted Eagles have two titles since 2013. Fleming last made the finals in 2012. The Wildcats won their second consecutive crown that season. That also happened to be their third straight appearance in the championship game, as they finished second in 2010.