BROOMFIELD – The way the Tigers steamrolled their opponents through seven weeks, starting slow and falling behind hasn’t been a problem for the Holy Family football team.
It became a problem at the worst time on Saturday, and early struggles led to the end of a season with championship potential.
In the Class 3A state semifinals at Mike G. Gabriel Stadium, the second-seeded Tigers fell way behind the visiting No. 6 Durango Demons and eventually fell 34-14. Instead of Holy Family moving on and getting a shot at its first title since 2005, Durango instead will make its first championship game appearance since 1988 when the Demons take on No. 1 Roosevelt next weekend in Pueblo.
“They just came out faster and harder than we did,” said Holy Family senior quarterback Michael White, who finished 12-of-30 for 155 yards and two interceptions. “The whole year we were focused on being the more intense team and that first half we just didn’t have it.
“And it is hard to come back against a team like that.”
The Tigers just could not get on track in the first half but Durango’s offensive stars Jordan Woolverton and Ben Finneseth, who combined for 379 yards of total offense and four touchdowns, did. The Holy Family offense went three-and-out on four of its first five possessions, while Woolverton ended the other with an interception.
Trailing 21-0 at halftime after posting just 37 offensive yards in the first half, and behind by as much as 28 points early in the third quarter, White did throw second-half touchdown passes to Oscar Sena and Liam Gray but it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the Demons.
“We started out a little slow and that really affected us,” Tigers head coach Mike D. Gabriel said. “It’s hard to play from behind against a good team like Durango. Coming out of half down 21-0, that’s a tough pill. I was proud of our kids in the second half. I thought they fought and they did what we needed them to do. It was just a little too little, too late.”
Tigers senior running back Trevin Johnson, who entered Saturday’s semifinals with 869 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, ran for only 38 yards with Holy Family chasing against a tough Durango defense. Gray finished with 75 receiving yards and Sena had 72.
“We’ve had a playoff drought in terms of depth going this deep into it for a long time,” Gabriel said. “They had the desire to do it, they took it upon themselves and they picked up a whole community on their shoulders. They did a great job and I’m proud of them.”
Durango will play Roosevelt at Colorado State University-Pueblo’s ThunderBowl on Saturday.