ERIE — According to Google and MapQuest, the distance from Erie to Durango is 356 miles with a drive time of six hours and 36 minutes.

Tack on gas stops, food stops and restroom breaks and you can almost figure on eight hours on the road.

And while Durango — whose athletic director said their annual athletic travel budget is astronomical — and the Demons are used to the travel, it is something very new to teams like Erie, which will make the journey on Friday.

The Tigers, fresh off their 22-21 victory over three-time defending champion Pueblo East in the first round, will play No. 13 Durango — whose field sits on the banks of the Animas River in the southwest corner of the state — at noon on Saturday.

"It's going to be a great experience and somebody told me they won by a lot, so it is going to be a great battle," said Erie coach Chad Cooper after Friday night's thriller. "I think (we are) no longer a hoax, we are a team now. Durango is going to be a very good football team and we will have to be prepared."

And quite possibly the greatest reaction to the news of their next opponent was Nathan Hackney, whose game-winning sack and forced fumble sealed the victory against Pueblo East.

"We are going to Durango?," he said, "Oh, yeah."

The Tigers are taking nothing for granted against a team that on paper they should be the favorites against, especially since they really haven't been to this point in over a decade.


It's a business trip and a chance to bring what is already a tight knit group of Tigers that much closer. Winning can do that, and winning the way they did against Pueblo East will only amplify it.

"The trip is going to be fun, because it is always fun travelling with the team. I know it is another step in the right direction and I know our guys are going to be hyped up after this (win)," Hackney said. "We are going to come out with our heads on fire all week during practice and going into that game, I know it is going to be our best game yet."

The Tigers played one of their best defensive game of the season last week and will need to do so again against at Demons team that hung 49 on Canon City last week, led by freshman quarterback Jordan Woolverton.

Offensively, it is no secret what Erie likes to do. Noah Roper, who went over 200 yard rushing last week for the seventh time this season and third week in a row, eclipsed the 2,000 yard mark for the season and the rapport he has with his offensive line is on point.

Dion Lucero has thrown the ball effectively when needed and so to has Jacob Mansdorfer, which gives Cooper a wealth of offensive options.

For those who can't make the trip to Durango, the school's gymnasium will air the game via the Erie Tiger Network on a big screen.

Jon Yunt: or