MEAD — The first six seasons of the Mead football program have been rife with first-time accomplishments.
The Mavericks' first win was a special moment. Their first winning season was a watershed point in the growth of the program. Every new first looked great from the outside but the Mavericks, however, have always been searching for one first in particular, and not so much searching as the same thing every team in the state of Colorado is playing for.
The only real goal left for the Mavericks was the playoffs. This season, the Mavericks went 8-2 and cracked the 16-man Class 3A state tournament bracket.
"It's really special," senior safety Scott Martenson said. "It's what we've been working for over the past four years. Every day in the weight room, this has been something we've focused on and we finally made it happen."
The Mavericks' first playoff appearance didn't come out of nowhere. They were close in 2013, real close.
Despite finishing with a 7-2 record, the Mavericks had accumulated just enough wild card points to leave them right on the bubble. They were so close that the Mavericks were one of only a few teams that stayed up sleepless the night before the state brackets were released. They missed the cut.
A 4-6 campaign in 2014 prolonged the Mavericks' time on the doorstep. But this year they broke through, completing a process that began four years ago for the current group of Mavericks seniors. At 5 p.m. on Saturday, the 11th-seeded Mavericks will travel to Colorado Springs to face sixth-seeded The Classical Academy.
"All those years, we were so close to making it," Martenson said. "That has prepared us and having been so close, it's special to be the first team to do it. Every team left is a good team. We've watched some film on Classical Academy and of course they're good. But we've proven that we're good too and we're ready to give them our best."
In his fourth year as Mavericks head coach, no one was more proud of the team's latest accomplishment than Jason Klatt. And though the Mavericks are appearing in the postseason for the first time, Klatt thinks they're more prepared for the next level than many might think.
"It means a lot," Klatt said. "It's another step in our progression and the standards we want to set for our program. Just to break into the top 16 is extremely difficult, as we saw two years ago when we were just on the outside looking in. It'll be a big challenge but one that we're looking forward to. We went 8-2 in a great league so we feel battle tested and ready."