Hotchkiss was eliminated from Class 1A football playoffs Saturday after a 27-7 first-round loss to Burlington. The Bulldogs suffered two misfortunes before the game — the first when starting quarterback Devan Rupe suffered a season-ending concussion two weeks before playoffs, and the second last week at practice when running back Alex Smith suffered a concussion.
Smith was the quickest of the three junior Bulldog ball carriers.
"Without Alex's speed and shiftiness, we weren't able to break some of the big plays," said head coach Zac Lemon.
Duncan Turnbull and River Panish were in the rotation to carry the ball. "Without Alex, Duncan and River were on the field the whole time," said Lemon. "But you can't take away from Duncan and River what they did. They never came off the field, and it takes a toll on the body."
The Burlington defense was brutal, holding Hotchkiss to 148 yards rushing, and quarterback Tanner Bizer to 38 yards passing and 18 yards rushing.
A week earlier, Bizer led Hotchkiss to a 28-point win over Meeker.
"Tanner did a great job," said Lemon. "Whenever we needed him to step in at any position — offense, defense, special teams — he did a great job with a great attitude. He should be extremely proud of what he did the last two weeks."
Burlington had two long first-half scoring drives and scored a third touchdown late in the second period to lead 21-0 at the half.
Hotchkiss fumbled the ball away again on its opening drive of the second half.
The Bulldogs picked off a Burlington pass with 10:25 remaining in the third, but saw their hopes fade after Burlington intercepted a Bizer pass and returned it 75 yards for the score and a 27-point lead.
Hotchkiss put a seven-point combo on the board late in the third on a 32-yard pass play from Bizer to senior Chris Allen and a PAT by freshman kicker Ryan Hafley.
"It was football being football and sometimes things don't go your way," said Lemon. "I'm proud of the way these guys stepped up."
Despite being a young and inexperienced team, "We still were a top-10 team in the state all year long." Hotchkiss entered this year's playoffs seeded sixth.
"It's a tough loss," said Turnbull, one of 10 juniors on the varsity squad. Turnbull praised teammates for working hard all season, and Bizer for getting them past Meeker. "We just came together as a family," said Turnbull. "That's what I'm most proud of."blog comments powered by Disqus