Football

Windsor football must claw back into playoffs

Windsor’s Jake Hammond celebrates a touchdown catch during the Wizards' 33 to 21 win over Vista Ridge on Sept. 2. Since then, things haven't been going the Wizards' way, and the defending Class 4A state champions will likely need to win their final four games to make the playoffs.

Windsor’s Jake Hammond celebrates a touchdown catch during the Wizards’ 33 to 21 win over Vista Ridge on Sept. 2. Since then, things haven’t been going the Wizards’ way, and the defending Class 4A state champions will likely need to win their final four games to make the playoffs.

With three games left in the regular season, the Windsor football team finds itself in a shaky situation.

The Wizards, after a 17-10 loss to Monarch Thursday night in which all the points against them were set up by special-teams miscues, almost certainly need to win all three upcoming games just to have a chance to make the playoffs and defend their Class 4A state championship.

“We’re hoping to claw our way back in,” Windsor coach Skylar Brower said. “The goal was to win the conference, finish strong and have all cylinders clicking at the end of the (regular) season. But we’ve got to readjust and see how we respond as a group.”

The road back starts this coming Friday when Windsor returns home to face Greeley Central, which started the season 0-6.

Seven teams automatically qualify for playoffs by winning their respective leagues, with at-large berths to the field going to the remaining teams with the best ratings in the RPI formula. Windsor’s chances at the Northern Conference title took a hit with the loss to Monarch, which is 2-0 in the league and has also beaten Skyline. Prior to the loss to Monarch, Windsor was No. 11 in the RPI rankings and Monarch was No. 9.

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“The rough part is that it’s a long weekend and we don’t get to get back to work until Monday,” Brower said. “Talking to some of the seniors and the captains, I think they’re going to be dialed in. We’re not guaranteed anything other than these next three games, so we’re hoping to come together and battle for these three games and then hope for the best.”

Windsor was 4-3 two years ago before winning its final three games, plus a first-round playoff game.

Meanwhile, the Wizards have to attempt to overcome the loss of star two-way lineman Mitchell Watson, possibly for the season, with a foot injury. Watson didn’t play against Monarch and, at best, he’s out for a couple more weeks, Brower said. An MRI is scheduled for Monday and should determine if surgery is required.

“The doctor has said it’s not an injury that you can play through, and he’d only get worse by trying,” Brower said.

At practice, the Wizards will be looking to shore up their special teams. A fumbled punt return, a bad field goal snap, and a blocked punt set up Monarch’s scores.

“It’s obviously super frustrating,” Brower said. “We dedicate a lot of practice time to special teams — 10 minutes every day working on punts and snaps, and we give each unit another 10 to 15 minutes each day. So of total practice time each day, we’re looking at 30 minutes of our two hours.

“That’s similar to what we’ve always done, but this year it seems to be a weakness, so maybe we have to reevaluate how we approach special teams in practice just to be more crisp and make sure we’re not making those mistakes that come back to hurt us.”

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