GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) The Paonia Eagles came into the 1A Western Slope League like a thief in the night this year.
After getting accustomed to a few changes in the league in 2012, they made their rounds, taking down every single team to finish with a perfect 5-0 record and an easy pass into the 1A state playoffs.
For the past four seasons, the Eagles consistently finished 3-2 in league play, unable to budge from that third place spot.
It has been two years since they made the playoff cut, but with each passing game Paonia made it clear they were in it to win it this season.
First year head coach and former assistant Brent McRae knew these guys had a tough road ahead. The defending state champ Cedaredge and semifinalist Hotchkiss both presented a road block, but Paonia handed out shutout victories with ease.
Now it's on to round one of the 1A state playoffs -where one loss ends your season - but the eagles know how to handle the pressure.
"Luckily we have a lot of experience with that here because of our wrestling program and other programs that have been real successful," said head coach Brent McRae. "If we can just focus on getting better every day instead of getting engulfed in the whole process of four games, if we can just take it day by day, then we'll be alright."
Paonia's enters their game as the 4th seed game, set to play 13th seed Colorado Springs Christian this Saturday at 3:00 PM for round one. The winner moves on to the quarterfinals to face either Cedaredge or Monte Vista.