GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) For five straight seasons the Hotchkiss Bulldogs have made their way into the 1A state playoffs.
The past three years, they've advanced all the way to the semifinal game but have been unable to make it one more step up the ladder. This year is a new opportunity.
In the 2012 playoffs, the Cedaredge Bruins, now the reigning champ, stole the Bulldogs thunder.
They met in the state semifinals for a battle Western Slope style, where Cedaredge pulled out a 16-12 victory to advance to the championship game. That loss marked the third straight year that Hotchkiss fell one win short of a shot at the state title, and they're not ready to let it happen again.
Though they lost a few big players in Josh Hardin, Jacobe Galley, and Conner Beard to graduation, they buckled up, readjusted their plan, and made 2013 work to their advantage.
It didn't take long at all for them to find their game. The Bulldogs got revenge over Cedaredge with a 28-6 victory in the regular season, finished with a 4-1 league record, and took the 6th-seed in the 1A state playoffs.
Now they're ready to do some more damage and feel this is their year to make it to the top.
"We've really embraced teamwork," said head coach Zac Lemon. "They play for one another; we don't have individuals. They just understand the importance of team and that they can't win alone and that no one player wins games and wins championships, and in order to be successful, we have to do it all 11 players on the field at the same time, and even the guys on the sidelines, the guys in practice, it really is everybody that helps make a successful program."
Hotchkiss will face 11th-seed Burlington this Saturday at 1:00 PM. KKCO 11 Sports will be covering the game, bringing you highlights at 5:30 and 10:00 PM.