BROOMFIELD — For all intents and purposes, the Broomfield season was over six weeks into the 2017 campaign.
Coach Blair Hubbard's young team sat at 2-4, and the veteran coach wondered if his team was going to figure it out.
Then the light came on in Week 7 ... essentially when the Eagles playoffs began. They went up to Greeley to take on a West team that was rolling and took it to them 28-7.
They had figured it out.
"Just going on the road and playing a team with a winning record, we started seeing some of that confidence develop there," said Hubbard, whose 15th-seeded team has won five games in a row — including last week's first-round blowout of No. 2 Windsor 31-0 in the 4A playoffs. "And then we went on the road to Brighton and essentially it was a playoff game between us and them, and just the level of focus during practice that week, the buy-in from the guys and just knowing that backs were against the wall.
"We had to have that game to get in and there was a lot of spark there and they turned the corner."
Now the defending state runners-up have garnered the attention of the rest of the state and most certainly have struck some fear into the other seven teams in the Class 4A field, including this week's foe, Loveland — which they host at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Elizabeth Kennedy Stadium (where ironically the construction company in charge of building the new field house at the north end of the field didn't believe in the Eagles either, as they started demolition and work earlier this week).
It was in Week 6, the Indians — who went on to run the table in the Longs Peak League — beat Broomfield 28-21 at Ray Patterson Field in Loveland.
"We knew there was something to play for," said Eagles quarterback Steve Croell after that game. "Once we realized there was still a chance, especially against Brighton, where it was win or go home, we've have that mindset since then."
The early half of the season was full of mistakes and errors by an inexperienced team that was still learning the varsity ropes.
"I have to give credit to the players. They didn't lose their focus and they didn't quit on it because it would have been very easy for a team that was 2-4 and lost a couple of emotional rivalry games to just give up on the season," Hubbard said. "As coaches, we kept encouraging them to not give up, come out every day and work to improve ... and that is what they did."
Especially on the defensive side of the ball where they have given up just 21 points in the last five weeks, including shutouts of Niwot and Windsor.
Offensively, Croell early on was forcing some throws and not making the right decisions and was trying to take over the game instead of letting the game come to him. Now, with healthy pieces — including slot back Tanner Garner — and a healthy offensive line, the Eagles offense if clicking on all cylinders.
"Early on we were learning and putting guys in places where they needed to be and then once we figured it out, the wheels started turning," said Croell, whose team has outscored opponents 192-21 in the last five weeks. "Ever since, it has just been clicking."