PUEBLO — The Palmer Ridge and Pueblo South football teams are no stranger to the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl. That was apparent Wednesday when each team took a tour of the facility before meeting the media ahead of the Class 3A football championship game to played on Saturday.
It's not even the first time this year that the two teams will have met on that very field. Palmer Ridge escaped the campus of CSU-Pueblo with a 24-19 win over the Colts leaving many at the game to wonder if a rematch was inevitable.
And with the way the Colts have battled to wins in the playoffs this season, Saturday's game almost feels as if it was destined to happen.
"Destiny... she's a fantastic lady," South coach Ryan Godard said. "As (University of Minnesota head coach) PJ Fleck would say, let's go pick her up."
Round two is going to be impactful for many reasons. At the top of the list is obviously the crowning of a state football champion. But so much more goes into a game like this. As some of the players took the tour of the facility and stepped onto the field, they couldn't help but think that Saturday will be the last time they get to suit up for their respective schools.
"I've felt it for sure this week," Palmer Ridge safety Tyler Calhoun said. "I know Saturday, either way, after the game it's going to sink in. But hopefully we can go out on a high note."
That's the aim for the Bears who come into the game having won the last two 3A state championships. Their closest margin of victory in the 2019 playoffs has been 21 points (twice) although they did enter the fourth quarter of their win over Green Mountain in a tightly contested battle.
"The game against Green Mountain is the one that is going to prepare us for Saturday's game," Palmer Ridge coach Tom Pulford said.
Pueblo South will have the benefit of playing close to home, but that prove to a vital factor in the meeting earlier in the year.
Like the Bears, several seniors for the Colts are trying to take in everything that comes with advancing to the state title game and how it will affect what happens on the field come Saturday.
"Monday I couldn't sleep," quarterback Logan Petit said. "I would just be visualizing the game and thinking about what I can do to make this team win the game."
It helped that the teams were given pep talks from the President of Friends of Football, Dan DeRose as well as CSU-Pueblo head coach John Wristen.
The coach of the ThunderWolves showed passion when talking about what the kids are heading into Saturday afternoon. At the end of the day, he just wants to make sure it's fun for everyone.
"Around here we spell fun w-i-n," he said in closing.
The Class 3A football state championship game is set for a 1 p.m. kick. Tickets are available online.