STRASBURG — In what began as a beautiful 60-degree day at Strasburg High School in the Class 1A football state championship between Limon (13-0) and Strasburg (11-2) Saturday, dramatic temperature change and increased wind speeds put the defenses on display in the 13-7 Badgers’ victory.
“I’m so proud of our kids,” Limon coach Mike O’Dwyer said. “This doesn’t happen without great kids and parents. I can’t tell you how much this means to me this year with this group. We had a lot of turmoil early in the season and these kids really bonded and came together, and I don’t think anybody will have any idea how difficult this year was, and I couldn’t be prouder.”
It took some early-game resiliency by the road team after Strasburg jumped ahead 7-0 on their first offensive possession that traveled 45 yards on eight plays. Capped by a five-yard touchdown run from sophomore Trystan Graf, neither team scored the rest of the half.
A three-and-out stand by the Limon defense to begin the second half flipped field position in favor of the Badgers following a two-yard punt by the home team that was clearly altered by the wind. Five plays later, marching 22-yards, Limon tied things at seven on the one-yard touchdown push from sophomore Kory Tacha.
The go-ahead score and game-changing play of the afternoon was outlined by a deep shot taken by O’Dwyer and his offense with 12 seconds remaining in the third.
Off the Strasburg turnover on downs, Limon’s offense took the field with the wind at their back one final time, and they made it pay off with a 37-yard pass from senior quarterback Cannan Bennett to senior Braden Sandersfeld.
Placing themselves at the Indians’ two-yard line heading to the fourth, the second play of the final frame was a one-yard TD from Tacha to give the Badgers their first lead of the day.
“We just tried to use the wind when we could and we thought we had a couple of opportunities,” O’Dwyer said. “We knew we didn’t have much of a shot if we started going into the wind so I thought it was a good time for us to take a shot. It was a nice luck of the draw there.”
After taking the lead, Strasburg bounced back with a solid nine-play drive, taking them down to the Limon 21-yard line with 5:45 remaining. But as it did all day, Limon’s aggressive defense found a way to force a turnover on downs, ending the last real threat for the Indians.
Holding on, the Badgers offensively were outgained on the ground 196-106 as the two teams combined for 91 rushes and just 14 passes (six completions). Both passing games were restricted due to the windy conditions, but the one play over 30 yards all afternoon proved to be the deciding factor.
Limon wins their first state championship since 2005, completing an unbeaten year in which the Badgers defeated Strasburg twice. The previous win was Sept. 21. Strasburg's quest for back-to-back-to-back state titles came up six points short.