A 21-20 loss a year ago had the Panthers thinking they could play even with a Durango team that returned a good portion of its team in 2017. Play well they did with the outcome not determined until an overtime period in Durango.
The Panthers lost more to graduation than Durango but had plenty of savvy and experience waiting in the wings, especially on the line. Delta has "some of the best linemen he has seen at Delta High School," noted assistant coach Paul Shean. Second-team all-state players Logan Church and Josh Reeder anchor the defensive line. There's plenty of size left for the offensive line.
A weather delay was not the way either team wanted to start the evening's activities.
When the game did start, there wasn't much offense to cheer about.
Not much was settled during four periods of play between the visiting Delta Panthers and Durango's Demons.
Both teams had opportunities to win the game but either turned the ball over or missed scoring opportunities to do so.
The Panthers were dismal on offense in the first half producing just one first down in 24 minutes of play. Rain dampened the area and hampered Delta's throwing game resulting in very few completions. Durango held an advantage with the rainy conditions by having players who were larger than most of Delta's athletes.
Delta used a fourth down conversion to move the ball beyond midfield on its first possession of the second half. A second fourth down situation was thwarted by the Demons to keep the game in a back-and-forth defensive battle.
Durango intercepted an errant Delta pass late in the game and had a field goal opportunity with less than four minutes to play. The missed kick essentially ended regulation play as Delta was unable to move the ball on its last possession of regulation play.
The Demons moved the ball periodically but were unable to break the goal line due to numerous penalties throughout the contest.
Delta looked to have the winning drive underway in overtime when the ball was fumbled by the Panthers on a third and inches at the goal line.
Durango recovered the ball and put together a 90-plus yard scoring drive ending with a field goal from the 13-yard line to win the game, 3-0.
Delta has a bye week Sept. 1 and the next week hosts Moffat County on Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.
Delta's second annual "Kickoff to Christmas" takes place Saturday, Nov. 25. This event is sponsored by the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce and First Colorado National Bank.