When Kory Tacha was a kid, he spent time watching the Limon Badgers rattle off three straight Class 1A football titles.
He was born in Limon and the local high school team played a big part in developing his love of the game. All these years later, he paid the program back and leaves his own chapter in a rich football history.
He played a crucial role in the Badgers claiming three straight titles — they he watched them do it as a kid — and for the second straight year, his efforts earned him 1A player of the year honors.
Not bad considering that he and his teammates spent a good chunk of 2020 wondering if they would even get on the football field at all. The championship win and the postseason honors just felt different this year than they did before.
"This year was probably the most special since it was my senior year and we went through all the stuff we did with basketball (ending early) and missing out on baseball and track," Tacha said. "Finally getting back to a little bit of normalcy, start playing again and then being able to do something with the opportunity; it was more special to win this year than the last two."
Tacha was very on-brand with his play this season. He didn't lead the Badgers in rushing yards at 740, that honor belonged to Jeremiah Leeper with 839. But he did lead the team in rushing touchdowns, including the first touchdown in Limon's 28-0 win over Strasburg in the 1A state title game.
Numbers are certainly one thing, but what made Tacha so valuable this year was his steady demeanor, even in the most adverse times.
"The thing that I think he brings is that quiet calmness or confidence, however you want to say it," coach Mike O'Dwyer said. "As long as we can go out there and be on the field, he'd say that we're going to be ok."
That comes from taking the things O'Dwyer has told him to heart. The Badgers were hit with a team quarantine because of a COVID-19 related issue with two weeks remaining in the season. That meant that their next game on the docket was the first round of the playoffs where shaking off rust isn't an option.
The team had to be ready to go after two weeks of no practice and no play.
"Coach always told us to control our controlables and everything else will take care of itself," Tacha said. "That was something we couldn't really control."
But they got through it. Tacha rushed for 63 yards in the first-round win over Holyoke. He scored a rushing and receiving touchdown to help the set the tone.
Leeper led the way against Wray but it was Tacha who got the Badgers off to a fast start against Strasburg. He broke for a 77-yard touchdown and Limon never looked back.
Two hours later, the Badgers were holding up their third consecutive state title and state record 20th overall. And perhaps there was a kid watching that moment and dreaming of the day where he, like Tacha, can help lead his hometown team to another historic run.
"I hope we leave a big legacy," Tacha said. "I grew up in Limon and when we went on our run in 2003, 2004 and 2005, I looked up to those guys and now (some) are my coaches. I've looked up to them ever since I was little."