No. 9 Pikes Peak Christian football feels it's earning respect in 8-man

Pikes Peak Christian Custer County football

(Derek Lee/CHSAANow.com)

COLORADO SPRINGS — Senior Night was one to remember for No. 9-ranked Pikes Peak Christian as its rolled past Custer County 58-0.

Senior running backs Nathan Seay and Hudson Grant combined for five touchdowns while senior center Ben Kopriva had a receiving touchdown and senior full back Brody Runkle scored a two-point conversion.

"I think the most special thing is that this core, these seniors, I’ve had them since sixth grade,” said Eagles coach Kelvin Thorne. "When I got here, we only had two kids, so we've built from the ground up. They've been together a long time. They play as a team."

Kelvin’s son, Jackson, is also a senior on the team. The younger Thorne had four passing touchdowns in the game.

"It's such a blessing," said the elder Thorne. "I think the coolest thing for me is him being a quarterback, as he's developed, we've been able to connect together. He helps call plays (and) it's just a special thing so it's a blessing for sure. It's pretty exciting."

Compared to most schools with 8-man football teams, Pikes Peak Christian is truly unique. They are the only 8-man football team in Colorado Springs — a city in which over 460,000 people call home.

Most 8-man football team come from high schools with in rural areas, so for a school like Pikes Peak Christian in a city like Colorado Springs to have an 8-man team is definitely unusual.

"We’re the only 8-man team in the city so it's weird because we go to these farm teams in the plains and these teams, they're tough and they have that community feel," Kelvin Thorne said. "They take a lot of pride in their football so it's a different animal. "It's taken some time to get the city kids into that mix, but the thing is we run it like 11-man. We pass, we throw, (and) we run different formations so to us, we're just teaching football IQ."

After finishing last season 10-2 and making it to the semifinals in last season's playoffs, the Eagles are becoming more than just the "big city" 8-man team in their division.

"I think we're starting to get that respect," said Thorne. "We went to the Final 4 last year and so we're getting that respect, but we've still got to push a little harder to get up one more time.

"Sometimes when we get to those smaller communities, it takes them a minute. We have to earn that respect because they're tough. Some of these programs have been successful 20 to 30 years and so really, we're still kind of new, but I think tonight was a good example where other teams are starting to go, 'Whoa.' They respect us more."

Pikes Peak Christian Custer County football

(Derek Lee/CHSAANow.com)