It was semifinal Saturday as all seven classes were in action. That means that each championship matchup has been set up ahead of next week's Championship Weekend at CSU Pueblo.
Here is how the day played out.
- Matchup: Cherry Creek vs. Valor Christian
- Kickoff: 12/5, 6 p.m.
(1) Cherry Creek 35, (4) Pomona 7
Cherry Creek scored on a Hail Mary as the first half ended to turn a one-score game to a 21-7 advantage, and the Bruins' offense kept it up in the second half as they advanced to a third-straight title game.
Julian Hammond III threw two touchdowns, and star defensive back/offensive threat Myles Purchase had three touchdowns. Cherry Creek's Gunnar Helm and Chase Penry each had receiving scores.
Cherry Creek, the defending champions, will be making its 19th appearance in a state title game, and third straight.
(2) Valor Christian 45, (3) Legend 0
Already up 14-0 after the first quarter, Valor Christian exploded for 31 second-quarter points as the Eagles advanced to the program's 10th state title game.
Valor score two rushing touchdowns in the first quarter, including one from Jordan Norwood, and then their special teams (blocked punt return from Mitchell Bigelow) and defense (Luke Meyer's 17-yard fumble return) added two more scores early in the second.
Jackson Zimmermann added a receiving score, and Gabe Sawchuk scored on the ground.
Valor Christian is 8-1-0 in its previous trips to a championship game.
- Matchup: Loveland vs. Palmer Ridge
- Kickoff: 12/4, 6 p.m.
(4) Loveland 20, (4) Dakota Ridge 14
Loveland scored all of its points in the first half, and its defense held firm to secure a second championship game appearance in three years.
Tyson Williams had a 12-yard rushing touchdown which opened the scoring in the first quarter. After Dakota Ridge took a 7-6 lead, Loveland's Garrett Harstad scored from 3 yards out.
Then, in the second quarter, Zack Rakowsky broke off a 73-yard rushing score for Loveland.
Loveland moves on to make its 15th championship game appearance.
(2) Palmer Ridge 28, (6) Fountain-Fort Carson 12
Palmer Ridge is headed to a fourth-consecutive state championship game, but their first in 4A after winning three-straight 3A titles.
Luke McAllister threw three touchdown passes for the Bears, who led 14-6 at halftime, and then had a touchdown each in the third and fourth quarters.
- Matchup: Roosevelt vs. Durango
- Kickoff: 12/5, 2 p.m.
(1) Roosevelt 49, (4) Pueblo South 19
A tight game through the first two quarters, Roosevelt's Brig Hartson scored from 6 yards out in the final minute of the first half to put his team up 21-13.
Pueblo South's Jace Bellah scored in the third quarter to cut it to 21-19, but Roosevelt close the game with 28 unanswered points.
This will be Roosevelt's third championship game appearance, and first since 2015.
(3) Durango 34, (2) Holy Family 14
Durango built a 21-0 halftime lead, one it extended to 28-0 early in the third quarter as the Demons flexed their muscle in the win.
"The kids just executed our game plan perfectly," Durango coach David Vogt told the Colorado Preps Scoreboard Show. "Our offense just really was rolling."
Jordan Woolverton led the way for Durango with two rushing touchdowns, a passing score, and an interception on defense. Gage Mestas had two touchdowns: one receiving, and one rushing. Ben Finneseth also added a 40-yard rushing touchdown.
It is Durango's first appearance in a championship game since 1988, and fourth overall. They are 0-3-1 all-time in title games.
"Every year, that's our goal: To make it to the state championship," Vogt said. "To accomplish that, it's great for everybody who has ever been in the program. Everybody is so happy for the program, and the town is just elated, too."
- Matchup: Eaton vs. Lamar
- Kickoff: 12/4, 2 p.m.
(5) Eaton 27, (1) Resurrection Christian 13
This will be Eaton's first appearance in a state championship game since 2003, and the program's eighth overall. Eaton has won one championship before, in 2000.
"The look on the players' faces, it's classic. It just brings tears to your eyes. Excited for them, that their hard work is playing off. You just love to see that look on their faces," Eaton coach Zac Lemon told the Scoreboard Show.
Eaton led 14-7 at the half, and pushed their lead to 27-7 in the fourth quarter.
"We knew it was going to be a battle in the trenches. It wasn't easy, but our guys battled," Lemon said. "We did a little 'bend, but don't break.' Guys played selfless, and excellent."
(7) Lamar 7, (6) Delta 6
Lamar's lone score came less than a minute into the second quarter, when Zane Rankin hit Blake Buxton for a 38-yard touchdown. A Luis DeLaTorre extra point immediately after ultimately proved to be the difference in this game.
"Zane put it right on him for the touchdown," Lamar coach Jason Tice told the Scoreboard Show.
The lead held through halftime and into the third quarter when Delta's Nathan Scharnhorst scored from 6 yards out with 8 minutes remaining in the quarter. The extra point attempt, though, was not good.
"Our defense stood tall," Tice said. "The defense really did a nice job today."
Lamar will head to a title game for the first time since 1963.
"We've got great kids. This senior class is remarkable. It's one of the best senior classes I've ever been a part of," Tice said. "These guys just go out there and they play for one another. As a coach, that's all you can ask for."
- Matchup: Limon vs. Strasburg
- Kickoff: 12/5, 10 a.m.
(1) Limon 24, (4) Wray 14
The Badgers, two-time defending champions, are headed back to the title game.
Tied at halftime, Limon took a 14-7 lead with three minutes to play in the third following a long drive.
"Our kids did a really nice job," Limon coach Mike O'Dwyer told the Scoreboard Show. "We had talked all week that this game was going to be 3 and 4 and 5 yards, and the team that can sustain that drive and not make mistakes and turn the ball over would win. I really thought our kids did a nice job. We ate up about 8 and a half minutes."
The Badgers added a field goal early in the fourth to go ahead 17-7.
"To make it a two-score game, you felt a little bit more comfortable," O'Dwyer said.
Wray cut the lead to 17-14 three minutes later, but Limon sealed the game with a touchdown pass with two minutes remaining.
"It was a great team effort on the defensive side," O'Dwyer said.
Limon has the most championships of any program in the state, with 19. They have been to a title game 27 times before, also the most in the state.
(2) Strasburg 27, (6) Centauri 14
For the fifth-straight year, Strasburg will head to the championship game. The squad has played Limon each of the past two seasons.
Down 14-0 in the first half, and 14-6 at halftime, Strasburg got a rushing touchdown and a two-point conversion midway through the third quarter to tie things at 14-14. Then, with five minutes to play in the fourth quarter, another rushing score gave Strasburg a 21-14 lead.
"When we got down 14-0, nothing was working for us offensively. Centauri came out and they were flying around the football," Strasburg coach Brian Brown told the Scoreboard Show. "We told the boys, 'We're not used to this, but we got to keep our composure.' Our boys, they never seem too worried about what the score is. They just know that if they keep doing the things they do best, good things will happen."
They then sealed the game with a pick-6 with three minutes to play.
Strasburg will be making its seventh appearance in a championship game.
- Matchup: Sedgwick County vs. Sanford
- Kickoff: 12/3, 6 p.m.
(1) Sedgwick County 46, (4) Dove Creek 6
The Cougars have advanced to their sixth-straight state title game, and are looking to become just the second program to ever win six consecutive championships. Only Limon has done it before, from 1963-68.
"I think later on down the road, we'll be able to look back and realize what had happened. Right now, we're just a one-day-at-a-time team, just like everybody else," Sedgwick County coach Chris Michel told the Scoreboard Show.
Sedgwick County scored four times on the ground, once through the air, and also had a 64-yard punt return for a score. The Cougars led 40-6 at halftime.
"We do a really good job, when we get some momentum, of capitalizing on that," Michel said.
(2) Sanford 16, (6) Merino 14
This marks the first time in program history that Sanford will play for a state football championship.
"Beyond excited," Sanford coach Joe Cary told the Scoreboard Show. "We're extremely excited to be able to go and do this."
Sanford trailed 14-8 at halftime in a physical game. They went ahead 16-14 in the fourth quarter on a speed-option play.
"The kids never dropped their heads," Cary said. "Never once did they let the doubt creep in. They just fought and fought."
- Matchup: Fleming vs. Stratton/Liberty
- Kickoff: 12/3, 2 p.m.
(1) Fleming 52, (4) Granada 46
It was a shootout back-and-forth kind of game between the two teams that saw a number of lead changes.
Granada led 46-38 in the fourth quarter, but a long touchdown run cut it to 46-44 for Fleming. The Wildcats then took the lead for good on an 8-yard pass.
"It was a great game," Fleming coach John King told the Scoreboard Show.
Fleming, the defending champion, will head back to the championship game for a second year in a row, and for the seventh time in program history.
"I'm sure it's going to be one heck of a test for us again," King said.
(2) Stratton/Liberty 36, (3) Cheyenne Wells 15
It'll be a fourth-straight title game appearance for the Knighted Eagles, and a rematch of last year's title game, won by Fleming.
Against Cheyenne Wells, Stratton/Liberty trailed 15-14 at halftime. They closed with 22 unanswered points.
"I thought we just played harder, with more heart, and more urgency, in the second half," Stratton/Liberty Toby Kechter told the Scoreboard Show. "The second half, we just ran right at them and we finally found some holes."
This will be Stratton/Liberty's 15th championship game in program history.
"We're excited. You take away our best player Week 2, and our kids really stepped up," Kechter said. "They played with a lot of heart and desire and want-to."