DENVER — The Loveland High School football team is playing out a script that most producers would toss out the window.
It’s just not believable.
Except to the players. Loveland, the No. 13 seed in the Class 4A playoffs, is in Saturday’s state title game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High after an amazing run of upsets.
Loveland (8-5) beat the No. 5, 4 and 1 seeds on the way to the title game, with the jaw-dropper coming in an upset of back-to-back champion Pine Creek in the semifinals last week.
Jaw-dropper to everyone but Loveland.
“I don’t think it was an upset,” Loveland coach Wayne McGinn said at a pre-state press conference at Mile High on Tuesday. “We expected to go in there and win.”
And that, really, is the story of how Loveland is in the title game against No. 3 Windsor (12-1).
They have an outstanding belief in themselves after having their backs against the wall during an awful start.
“We were 2-4. I think we got to the point where we started gelling and getting better,” McGinn said. “We got to where we had a lot of ‘playoff games’ to get us into the playoffs. I think that helped us. We had two games at the end where ‘one loss and we don’t get into the playoffs.’”
What’s been the difference? Most notably a stifling defense. Loveland held Pine Creek, a team that had won 37 games in a row and averaged well over 40 points per game, to just 14. Same thing against a potent Vista Ridge.
The ball-hawking defense has created four turnovers each of the past two weeks and 10 total in the playoffs.
The offense is carried through two dynamic playmakers, quarterback Ayden Eberhardt and running back Charles Dunkelman, who have combined to account for 45 touchdowns.
Can the dream continue?
Why not? A team drunk on self-belief can pull off miracles.
For live updates from the state title game follow Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and Quentin Sickafoose at twitter.com/QSickafoose.
COLORADOAN: Northern Colorado high school sports awards
No. 13 Loveland’s road to Mile High
Week 1: 36-18 win at Denver South
Week 2: 41-8 loss vs. Roosevelt
Week 3: 38-28 loss at Mountain View
Week 4: 35-14 win vs. Broomfield
Week 5: 41-25 loss at Fort Collins
Week 6: 42-6 loss at Longmont
Week 7: 33-16 win vs. Thompson Valley
Week 8: 6-0 loss vs. Windsor
Week 9: 49-15 win vs. Adams City
Week 10: 29-21 win at Greeley West
First round: 30-14 win at (4) Vista Ridge
Quarterfinal: 49-21 win vs. (5) Durango
Semifinal: 26-14 win vs. (1) Pine Creek