MONUMENT — The post-game huddle was a sight to see.
As the players and coaches of the Windsor High School football team gathered near the east end zone at Don Breese Stadium, euphoria was on full display.
It was the look of the Wizards winning the biggest game of their lives.
Three consecutive seasons Windsor has been sent home in defeat from the Class 4A quarterfinals.
On Saturday, it finally broke the mold, edging Palmer Ridge 20-14 in overtime on the road to advance to its first-ever semifinal appearance since moving up from 3A in 2012.
“After last year’s loss I told them, ‘The sun will come up tomorrow.’ This was tomorrow, and the sun is shining bright,” coach Chris Jones said. “Those guys made today a moment. One they’ll never forget.”
Palmer Ridge (8-4) played tougher than its No. 11 seed early against the No. 3 Wizards (11-1).
Bears quarterback Isaiah Sanders proved to be a problem for the Wizards’ defense with his dual-threat ability, entering the game leading all of 4A in passing yards. He threw for 103 yards and a touchdown while running for another 100 on 23 attempts and a score.
Sanders led his team to an early lead with a passing strike to Bailey Rosenstrauch in the first quarter, and provided the Bears with a 14-7 edge at halftime after running into the end zone near the end of the second.
“Give a ton of credit to Palmer Ridge. They were crazy good and super underrated,” Windsor running back Jake Shields said. “We had to regroup there in the locker room, but coach Jones made us all believe.”
Shields finished the game with 28 yards on eight attempts and two touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime. His first touchdown was delivered after Palmer Ridge’s first strike to tie the game 7-7 early into the second quarter.
After a scoreless third quarter and a plethora of penalties, the gloom of another possible quarterfinal exit begin to loom over Windsor.
The Wizards were able to move the ball well but were unable to convert on third down. Windsor quarterback Brad Peeples then brought life back to the Wizards’ fan base in the north bleachers by scrambling 52 yards for a touchdown to even the game at 14-14.
Palmer Ridge was given the first possession in overtime. The Bears gambled on fourth down instead of opting for a field goal, giving the Wizards an opportunity to put the game away.
A fake to Landon Schmidt opened up a hole down the middle for Shields to prance into and send Windsor on to the next round.
“I just can’t even begin to explain how good it all feels,” Schmidt said. “We’ve had a lot of people doubting us, but we’re still here, and we’ve told each other that we won’t go away.”
Windsor advances to play No. 2 Longmont (12-0), the team that dealt the Wizards its only loss this season. The Wizards and Trojans will meet in the semifinals at Everly-Montgomery Field at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Follow sports reporter Quentin Sickafoose at twitter.com/QSickafoose.
(3) WINDSOR 20, (11) PALMER RIDGE 14
At Don Breese Stadium in Monument
Windsor 0 7 0 7 6 – 20
Palmer Ridge 7 7 0 0 0 – 14
PR – Isaiah Sanders 5 pass to Bailey Rosenstrauch (Greyson Matalus kick good), 3:04.
WIND – Jake Shields 2 run (Griffith Kull kick good), 10:05.
PR – Sanders 2 run (Matalus kick good), 2:00.
WIND – Brad Peeples 52 run (Kull kick good), 11:04.
WIND – Shields 4 run.