Limon repeats as 1A football champion, beating Strasburg

(Brian Miller/For CHSAANow.com)

STRASBURG — As Limon’s football gathered to receive the Class 1A state championship trophy Saturday afternoon, the Badgers made sure that Logan Marx was the first player to hold it up high.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound offensive lineman — one of only three seniors on the roster — had helped Limon ride a strong second half to a 26-13 victory over Strasburg in the title game, and the Badgers wanted to recognize their starting tackle.

“It was just such an honor that my teammates let me hold that trophy,” Marx said. “They all work so hard and I’m just thankful that we were all able to pull out a victory.”

The victory gave third-seeded Limon (11-2) its state-record 18th state championship in the program’s history (a 13-13 tie with Springfield in 1964 could technically count as a share of 19 overall).

The Badgers also claimed consecutive championships after defeating top-seeded Strasburg on its home field for the second year in a row. That comes after losing 16 starters from the 2018 title-winning squad.

“It’s just a huge accomplishment for us to get back to the state championship, for one, let alone win it,” said Limon junior Kory Tacha, who scored three touchdowns Saturday. “It’s an amazing feeling and I’m fortunate enough to be on this team.”

Limon edged the Indians 13-7 last November behind two Tacha touchdowns, and for a while Saturday’s game seemed like déjà vu for the program. Tacha scored two first-half touchdowns — the second coming on a 74-yard touchdown pass from Trey Hines — and a missed extra-point kept the score at 13-7 headed into the fourth quarter.

That’s when the Limon offense took over. Tacha broke off a 32-yard touchdown run with eight minutes, 31 seconds remaining to make it a 19-7 game. After forcing Strasburg (12-1) to turn the ball over on downs, the Badgers put together a nine-play drive that culminated in a Jeremiah Leeper 8-yard scoring run.

“I really thought that we kind of started seizing a little bit of momentum,” Limon coach Mike O’Dwyer said. “That was on the back of Kory, but it isn’t one kid. I thought our offensive line played really well today and really got on some guys.”

Strasburg quickly went down the field, with Collin Russell going 4-of-5 for 66 yards and connecting with Michael Burns for a short touchdown pass. The 2-point conversation failed though, and Limon recovered the ensuing onside kick.

“They just keep fighting,” Indians coach Brian Brown said. “You could hear them on the sideline, ‘hey, we’ve still got a chance.’ When you look at the clock with 1:12 left you know it’s not going to happen, but that’s what this team has done all year long.”

Tacha finished with 125 yards rushing and 109 receiving, and it was his long touchdown catch that put Limon on top to stay. After Strasburg’s Trystan Graf had tied the game with a 5-yard run out of the Wildcat formation, Hines connected with Tacha over the middle.

The junior did the rest, sprinting up the left sideline for the score.

“I kind of just got open, and my quarterback did a great job throwing me the ball,” Tacha said. “I’m grateful for my other wide receivers who gave me a couple blocks and gave me the chance to put some points on the board there.”

Leeper finished with 55 yards rushing and the one touchdown.

Graf had 78 yards rushing, but the majority of that came in the first half. He also caught three passes for 70 yards. Russell threw for 123 yards on the day, but Brown said Limon did a solid job taking the Indians out of their offense for much of the game.

Strasburg will graduate seven seniors but returns most of its top playmakers, including Graf and Russell.

“We’re losing seven seniors, and they are key seniors,” Brown said. “But we have some tremendous players coming back. The great thing about this season is we were able to play some sophomores, and some juniors got a lot of playing time. I expect they’re going to do the same thing next year.”

That’s where the Badgers are, with the majority of its roster back next fall. O’Dwyer admitted it isn’t always easy to play for a coach who is “a little old-school, maybe a little growly a lot,” but praised his players for how they respond.

The Badger tradition is showing no signs of slowing down.

“I don’t know what to tell you about it. It’s just an incredible community,” O’Dwyer said. “It’s incredible focus by our players and I think I have such a great staff.

“I think it’s the whole program. Our kids buy in, and they buy in at a young age.”