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Football: Holy Family streaks forward with state berth on the line

Holy Family hosts Durango Saturday

Tim Hurst/Staff Photographer
Holy Family High School senior defensive back Oscar Sena (8) intercepts a pass by Evergreen High School sophomore quarterback Nash Carroll (4) on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, in Broomfield, Colo.
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On the back of freshmen aspirations, seniors like linebacker Justin Trostel at Holy Family are nearing a perfect ending in a season begging to be anything but.

Off another dominating performance in a 41-6 win over Evergreen last week, the unblemished Tigers and their senior-laden roster host Saturday’s Class 3A semifinals against visiting Durango just two wins away from the program’s first state title in 15 years.

Now the matter if they can get there. Can anyone, for that matter?

With every week of the makeshift fall football season uncertain due to the raging novel coronavirus, the scope exceeds just X’s and O’s as the remaining teams hope they can outlast not only each other, but a shutdown.

“Control what you can control,” Holy Family coach Mike Gabriel tells his team.

Because for them — and for guys like Trostel who feared their senior season may never happen when the sport was briefly pushed to the spring three months ago — it’s the only option as they streak forward.

“We’ve been talking about (winning a state title) since freshman year,” Trostel said. “Our C-team, we went 9-1 and we blew out everybody. And we were just talking about it since then, if we can beat them then, what difference does it make now?”

So far four years later, really not much.

Holy ‘it’s been over by half so might as well go home and spend some time with the’ Family has crushed its first seven opponents this fall by a score of 307-66. Each win has been by at least four scores.

A team devoid of any glaring weakness, the offense has a certain ‘wow’ factor. (Just ask Evergreen after it was left in a spell following an 80-yard TD pass in the first 14 seconds of the postseason.)

Its kicking game, meanwhile, is entrusted to one of the state’s best in Liam Gray.

And the backbone to all of it may be their feasting defense, which has not allowed more than two scores in any game.

“I think our chemistry is a big part of it on defense,” Trostel said. “We’re all pretty close and have been able to play with each other for a few years. We’ve been able to get better together.”

As part of the transformation from a defense that allowed 27 points per game a year ago, Gabriel said the Tigers switched schemes from a four-man front to three to better fit their personnel.

At their best, they grounded Lutheran — the then-No. 1 scoring offense — in a Week 5 38-14 win that clinched league. And Friday against the Cougars, as Class 3A’s No. 2 team, they forced five turnovers for a total of 21 this season.

Saturday, with a state title berth on the line, they’ll have to deal with dual-threat quarterback Jordan Woolverton and the No. 3 Demons, who will need to travel more than six hours to get from Durango to Mike G. Gabriel Stadium.

Last week, the Demons beat Lutheran 47-6 behind four TDs (three passing, one rushing) by Woolverton, who earlier this fall received a preferred walk-on offer with CU.

In five games, the senior has thrown for nine touchdowns to just one interception, and has six of his team’s 23 rushing scores.

“We’re going to try and contain (his running) as much as possible,” coach Gabriel said. “With a kid like that, it’s hard to keep him totally locked up, so I’m sure he’ll have some big plays. But we want to try and stop him wherever and whenever possible.”

No. 2 Holy Family vs. No. 3 Durango

When: Saturday at noon.

Where: Mike G. Gabriel Stadium.

At stake: The winner gets either No. 1 Roosevelt or fourth-seed Pueblo South in the state finals Dec. 5 in Pueblo.