Like Christmas morning: Durango football steals the show with
3A state title win
Durango High School’s Gage Mestas, middle, posses with his teammates after the Demon’s won the Class 3A State Title Saturday, Dec 5th, 2020, at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl at CSU Pueblo. Austin White/ Pueblo Chieftain
There’s no secret the headlines in Colorado are dominated by the Front Range, from high school sports and beyond.
All year, Durango High School football waited for its name to move up to the No. 1 ranking in Class 3A in the regular season, but it never did.
On Saturday, facing No. 1 seed in Roosevelt for the Class 3A state title Saturday at the Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl at CSU Pueblo, the Demons had their chance to prove they were No. 1 on the field.
Behind three turnovers forced by their defense and a stellar all-around game from senior Gage Mestas, the Demons finally grabbed the Colorado spotlight with a 21-14 victory.
“To prove (we’re No. 1) is amazing and hopefully we can just keep this going throughout the program,” Mestas said. “It’s awesome, best opportunity we’ve had and I’m so blessed to be in this position.”
The shying away from Durango wasn’t without some justification, as the Demons have only one football state title in program history. And that was a shared title from 1954.
But the 2020 team has been building to this point since the freshmen arrived at Durango High School in 2017, starting with a first round win in the playoffs that same year.
2018 featured a first round exit before Durango made the quarterfinals in 2019, only to fall short to Pueblo South.
Now in 2020, the Demons were finally able to climb the ladder and take the golden trophy back to the southwest corner.
“It makes everything worth it,” Durango coach David Vogt said. “It’s not getting the respect that I thought we deserved and I’m glad we were able to prove ourselves today.”
Mestas put everyone in the state on notice by grabbing four receptions for 106 yards, including a 23-yard TD to put Durango up 7-0 early in the first quarter.
How it happened:Durango gets first outright state title with tense win over Roosevelt in 3A championship
Mestas got the Demons started, and he helped them finish it by hauling in a one-handed stab interception near the goal line to keep Roosevelt at bay with a 21-14 Durango lead in the fourth, helping him earn Most Outstanding Player of the Game.
“I knew it was going to be a game, I knew it was going to be a dog battle,” Mestas said. “When I caught that first pass, we had momentum, but still wasn’t good enough. That team (Roosvelt) was amazing, that was an awesome team. Definitely one of the best teams we’ve played, for us to keep up with them was good.”
With 14 seniors listed on the roster for Durango, the 2020 title is the culminating triumph for a 2021 class that has withstood many close calls in the playoffs.
For them to get a state title as they exit means everything to Vogt as he’s seen his crew develop year after year.
“It’s been hard, every year we felt like we’ve been one play away,” Vogt said. “This year we were able to put it all together so it’s just amazing.”
Now the challenge is trying to sustain that success and make sure it’s not another 66 years until a second state football title.
But for now?
That five hour drive back to Durango will be a little more golden, and the Demons will have plenty of respect following them out west.
“This is the best feeling ever, I’ve been dreaming about this since the second grade,” Mestas said. “To do this with my brothers, we came out and executed. This is the best feeling ever, it’s like waking up on Christmas Day.”
Post courtesy of The Pueblo Chieftain