Pine Creek and Palmer Ridge: a playoff battle with history
Eagles and Bears play Saturday at Don Brees Stadium
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - It’s not often two defending state champions face one another in the playoffs.
It’s even more rare, and meaningful, when it’s a rival.
“We’re both good, proud teams,” Pine Creek senior Branyon Murdock said. “A lot of our guys know a lot of theirs, and a lot of their guys know a lot of ours. It’s a good rivalry. We always compete with each other, and it’s pretty fun to be a part of.”
Pine Creek and Palmer Ridge will meet in the opening round of the CHSAA 4A football bracket Saturday at Don Brees Stadium. The Eagles, reigning champs of 4A, beat Palmer Ridge 49-28 last year en route to their title. The Bears were in 3A at the time, and only lost twice as they took home the state title in their classification.
Now, both Eagles and Bears are playing for the same trophy. Losses for Palmer Ridge seniors have been few and far between during their high school tenure. But Pine Creek has won the head-to-head battle in consecutive years, and that doesn’t sit well with Bears senior Kaden Dudley.
“Losing the last two years, being a championship team in 3A, I think we just want our revenge, really,” Dudley said. " People used to talk, oh they’re just 3A, they can’t compete in 4A. Sometimes they think we we’re scared to play Pine Creek, but we stepped up every year and played them. You never have to worry about us backing down from competition.”
Palmer Ridge (4-0) is looking to be only the seventh team in CHSAA football history to take home four consecutive state titles. Meanwhile, Pine Creek sneaks into the playoffs after a gauntlet of a regular season schedule that included losses to two highly ranked 5A teams. The Eagles (2-2) didn’t think they would see themselves in the postseason, but they’re confident they’ll make the most of their opportunity.
“We’ve built up a winning tradition,” Murdock said. “As a senior, along with a being a ‘rebuilding’ year, I can’t think about it that way. It’s about going to win state either way.”
“[Pine Creek] is always a good team, and we like to think we are too. We’re expecting nothing but their best, and they should expect ours. Hopefully we’ll put on a show.”
The Eagles (7) and Bears (2) head to Don Brees Stadium in Monument for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff. The winner will advance to the semifinals between either Ponderosa or Fountain-Fort Carson.
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