Jacobe Galley knew that Wiggins has size. And he knew that quarterback Thayer Sauter, who leads the league in total yards, is "pretty quick, he's pretty shifty. He likes to run the ball."
But he also knows that the Bulldogs have speed, depth and determination, and had a good shot at redemption after losing to Wiggins last season in the semifinal game.
"If everybody does their job, yeah, everything should play out good," said Galley, who leads the league in rushing and scoring, during a mid-week practice.
The No. 10 seeded Bulldogs appeared to be heading into a battle against No. 7 Wiggins when, on their opening play, Thayer broke loose to score on a 64-yard touchdown run. With less than a minute gone from the clock, Wiggins led, 7-0.
If their confidence was rattled, it wasn't for long. With only a few more seconds gone off the clock, Galley answered with a 52-yard touchdown run. On the PAT attempt, Josh Hardin recovered a muffed snap and connected with Conner Beard in the end zone for the two-point conversion. Hotchkiss never looked back, and Wiggins, playing on its own field, suffered through 40 more unanswered points to lose the first-round game, 48-7. The Bulldogs had the game wrapped up by halftime.
"It was the greatest team win of the year," said Lemon. The strength of the Wiggins team is in the size of its offensive and defensive line, and its backs look good on film, said Lemon early last week. "They have a lot of size. We just have to match up with their bigs."
Both the offensive and defensive lines performed great, said Lemon. The defense had 62 tackles and Beard, Galley, Erik Steckel and Joe Boyle all broke through the Wiggins line for sacks. Nick Blaser recovered one Wiggins fumble, and Boyle recovered two, including a botched snap that gave the Bulldogs the ball on the Tigers' three and set up one of Trenton Tamayo's TD runs.
"Joe Boyle definitely played a great game," said Lemon.
Galley had 14 carries for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Tamayo rushed for 74 yards and three touchdowns, "and picked up tough yards when we needed them," said Lemon.
Hardin completed five of eight passes, and connected with Beard for 47 yards, including two touchdowns.
Colton Farmer was 4-6 in PATs.
The Bulldogs' No. 10 seeding, the lowest in four years, was a bit of a surprise, said Lemon. There won't be an easy game from here on out. But the team is better prepared for those games after playing a tougher-than-usual schedule.
After three undefeated seasons, Hotchkiss posted a 7-2 record and in many of its games was forced to play four quarters. That is paying off, said Beard. "We lost a couple of games going in. A couple of close games. So we're ready to play all four quarters, instead of... winning by 40 all the way up until the semifinal game. Then you find yourself in a game and you don't know what to do."
Hotchkiss will host No. 2 Limon this Saturday at 1 p.m. The Badgers are coming off of a first-round 41-0 win over No. 15 Rye. The last time Hotchkiss faced the perennial powerhouse was in the 2009 quarterfinals.
Limon won by seven. Beard, along with Galley, was a freshman varsity player that season. He said he likes the way this year's playoff season is stacking up. "I like our schedule. Now we have a chance to redeem some losses."