By Clayton Chaney
The Pagosa Springs High School Pirate football team will take on the Eaton Reds in the first round of the state playoffs. The game is set to kickoff this Saturday, Nov. 21, at 1 p.m. at Pagosa Springs High School’s Golden Peaks Stadium.
The Pirates finished their regular season undefeated, claiming the top spot in the state’s 2A Southwest League. The Reds ended their regular season with a 4-2 overall record and finished third in the state’s 2A Patriot-East League.
According to CHSAANow.com, the Pirates are entering the postseason ranked fourth in the state’s 2A division, while the Reds are ranked fifth.
The playoff brackets for this year were determined, and seeded, by the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) Seeding Index, which combines the CHSAA Ratings Percentage Index, CHSAANow coaches’ poll, MaxPreps Rankings and Packard Ratings. Usually, league champions are automatically granted a playoff spot and the remaining spots are filled based off of CHSAA’s Seeding Index. This year only, the CHSAA Seeding Index was used to determine playoff brackets.
The Pirates have been quarantined the past two weeks due to an exposure to the virus in their last home game against La Junta.
In a phone interview, coach Nathan Morales explained that the team will get one practice together this Friday before the game.
Due to quarantine restrictions, the Pirates haven’t been able to practice on the field with each other since their game against La Junta.
When asked if he was worried about the lack of practices, Morales said, “I’m not worried one bit. We’re making the best of it.”
Morales went on to speak about the mentality of the team.
“People don’t understand this team, they don’t understand the mindset of this team. We’ve found so many different ways to become a better football team through all of this,” he said.
He also highlighted how the team’s mentality all year long has been to “control the controllables” and that the players have always focused on what they can do, not what they can’t.
“We’re all about growth and everything that happens to us in life, we learn from it, we grow from it, and we’re better because of it,” Morales said.
“They’re a good football team; that’s what you get in the playoffs,” the coach said of the Reds.
As for what Morales is hoping to see from the Pirates, he said, “Just continue what we’ve been doing … I’m not gong to ask them to do anything more extraordinary than they already have. I don’t need anybody to be more than they are.”
Morales added, staying focused on the positives that have come out of this unique season, “We’re excited to have the opportunity to play this weekend.”
When asked about how well the team has been able to prepare for this weekend’s game, Morales responded, “I have the utmost confidence in our team, and I’m excited to play this weekend.”
A win this Saturday would send the Pirates to the semifinals, where they would either face Moffat County, who are ranked eighth in the state, or first-ranked Resurrection Christian.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only two spectator ticket opportunities are allowed per home player and coach, with no visiting spectators allowed and no general admission, according to Athletic Director Marcie Ham.
Those looking to watch the games can do so by purchasing a subscription at https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/supportprogram.
Due to the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic had on finalizing and approving a fall football season for Colorado, there are only eight teams in this year’s postseason bracket, half of the usual 16 teams that make it into the playoffs.
According to CHSAA, nearly 80 percent of schools across the state opted to play their football season this fall rather than wait to play in the spring.
Last week, CHSAA announced that it will be holding a championship game for each division in the state: 6-man, 8-man, 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A and 5A.
However, unlike previous years with some of the larger division games being played at the Denver Broncos’ Empower Field at Mile High stadium, this year all championship games will be played at Colorado State University-Pueblo’s DeRose ThunderBowl stadium.