The Denver Post says 1992. Facebook has exploded with claims of 1994, but the latest football trophy in Middle Park High School's case says "1993-1994" (school year), which would indicate that the fall of 1993 is the last time the Panther football team was in the Sweet 16 of the state play-offs.
No matter what year in the early '90s it was, "It's been too damn long," said Head Coach Troy Schmidt.
It was before O.J. Simpson went on his infamous ride in his white Ford Bronco, the Cold War was only recently declared over, and Justin Bieber was not born yet. As far as that goes, none of the current members of the Panther football team were born yet either, but this group has now secured a berth in the Sweet 16 of the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 2A State Play-offs.
They did it by dominating the Pinnacle Timberwolves 48-6 last Thursday night on a memorable, cold and snowy night in Granby. The win locked up 2nd Place in the Flatirons League and guaranteed Middle Park their first post-season appearance in nearly 20 years.
"I am so happy for the kids to be rewarded for all their hard work, and proud of a group of just 29 young men who have not let injuries stop them from their goal," said Schmidt. "It would have been easy to quit after losing five offensive and six defensive starters this year - but they didn't. Some great life lessons were learned - we play hard with whoever we've got."
This game was never in question, as the Panthers led 24-0 at the end of the 1st quarter and 48-0 at halftime. The offensive line for the Panthers completely dominated the line of scrimmage. Nick Brynoff, Steven Kentfield, Dillon Berger, Sage Wall, Cody Garrett, Jace Linke, Kade Silvernale along with lead blocking by Connor Jennings and Moses Aguilar allowed Middle Park to amass over 300 rushing yards and over 400 yards of total offense on the "frozen tundra" of Panther field.
Henry Southway would lead the Panthers with 10 carries for 235 yards and four touchdowns. Aguilar would have 4 carries for 42 yards and one touchdown, and Jennings would have 4 carries for 39 yards. John Stensvad would complete 3 of 4 passes in the treacherous weather for 71 yards, one touchdown, and a two-point conversion.
The Panther defense again dominated the line of scrimmage and held a team to less than 100 yards of total offense for the second week in a row even though Pinnacle was leading the Flatirons League in passing. The defense was led by Aguilar who would finish with 6 solo tackles and an assist, an interception, and two key pass break-ups. Kentfield added 8 solo tackles, Silvernale had a quarterback sack and fumble recovery, and Berger and Wall would also share a quarterback sack.
The win has earned the Panthers a relatively short trip to Parachute, where they will play the Grand Valley Cardinals at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3. Grand Valley finished the year with only one loss to last year's state runner-up, Bayfield, and will be a very formidable opponent for the Panthers, but "I think our kids are excited to show the state that they belong and want to do their community proud", said Schmidt. Many of that community are making the trek, and those who can't will be able to listen to the radio coverage on KRKY.
GOOD LUCK PANTHERS.