BROOMFIELD — It wasn't all that long ago that Dan Perse was patrolling the turf at Elizabeth Kennedy Stadium for the Broomfield Eagles.

A two-way star for coach Gary Davies, Perse earned a scholarship and a chance to help turn around a Colorado Mesa program that was only beginning to make strides in the RMAC and Division II football.

Mediocrity early on gave way to winning football over the last two seasons for the Mavericks and a long overdue playoff appearance in 2016.

"When I first got there we weren't even a .500 team, but good coaching and good recruiting — they brought in the right people — and people just fit into the right spots," said Perse, who also had high school teammate Aric Kaiser with him in Grand Junction. "This year we finally did it, we won the RMAC, made it to the playoffs and I think for the next 10 years we are going to be good. Mesa is on the map now."

Perse — used primarily as a blocking tight end that had 16 catches this past season — and the Mavericks knew there was a chance to do something special and getting though the first five games of the season, what they internally deemed "The Gauntlet," was the key to their season.

A 2-0 start and a date with No. 10 Colorado School of Mines in Golden proved to be huge for the Mavericks.

"We beat Mines in double overtime on a blocked field goal and we kind of knew we were real," said Perse, who started his career as a wide receiver and converted to tight end this season and had a huge 30-yard catch in that game.


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Two weeks later, the Mavericks completed the gauntlet a perfect 5-0 with an huge win — the first of Perse's time there — over CSU-Pueblo in the most grand of fashions, a goal line stand.

"We started to believe that this was indeed real and it was happening," Perse said.

Ultimately, the Mavericks went on to knock off another ranked team in Azusa Pacific before punching their playoff ticket. It ended too early for them — a 34-23 loss to Texas A&M-Commerce — but the groundwork has been laid.

The team success has led to individual chances for Perse, who is working hard with Impact Sports trainer Tim Naiman to extend his playing career

"I'm just trying to extend my career. This is pretty much all I've known for a long time, and school is going great — don't get me wrong — but obviously if I can extend my playing career I want to do that," said Perse, a senior who started all four years at Mesa. "I need to get my combine numbers to a place where I start turning some heads and see if I can't get picked up for anything, anywhere."

The 6-foot-4, 240 pound Perse's dreams are still in the infancy state, but with pro days approaching, he knows the work now will hopefully pay off later.

He has his sites set on pro-day workouts at CSU-Pueblo first and later at both CU and CSU if things work out.

"Right now I'm just trying to get my name out there," said Perse, who still has one more year of school left to earn his degree.

Jon Yunt: yuntj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/JonEYunt