For the first time in three years, the lights at Garry Berry Stadium will shine on a Colorado Springs school for a 5A playoff game.
Doherty fans have had to wait a bit longer.
Fresh off a Pioneer League championship, Doherty (7-2) got word early Sunday of its first-round opponent, 6-3 Gateway, for a 7 p.m. Friday kickoff at Garry Berry Stadium. It marks the Spartans' first home playoff game since a 17-7 first-round victory over Ponderosa in 2006.
Garry Berry Stadium last played host to a 5A playoff game in 2010, when Palmer fell to Chaparral in a second-round clash.
"It feels good to have a home game," Doherty second-year coach David Joyce said. "You get the home crowd, the band and the cheerleaders. Plus, you can keep your routine and not have to worry about going into a hostile environment for the first game. The real season starts this week."
The Colorado High School Activities Association released playoff brackets for 5A, 2A, 1A, eight-man and six-man classes Sunday, and five other Pikes Peak region schools were selected to their respective tournaments.
Along with Doherty, Fountain-Fort Carson made the 32-team field. The 25th-seeded Trojans (4-5) begin play at No. 9 Pomona (7-2) in Arvada at a time and date to be determined. It marks the Trojans' first road game to open the playoffs since 2009.
In 2A, where 16 teams reach the postseason, undefeated Manitou Springs (9-0) was awarded a No. 2 seed, the highest among area teams. The Mustangs play host to Jefferson (8-2). A win there would set up a possible matchup with reigning 2A state champion Kent Denver.
Florence (8-2), which fell to Kent Denver in the 2A state semifinals a season ago, earned a No. 8 seed and will host Strasburg (7-2). The winners of that game will likely face top-seeded Brush (9-0) in the quarterfinals.
Colorado Springs Christian School (6-3), which had its four-game winning streak broken by unbeaten Buena Vista on Oct. 25, earned one of 1A's four at-large berths in the 16-team field. The Lions hit the road for a first-round game at Paonia (8-1).
"At the beginning of the year, I didn't know what to expect," Lions coach Jay Kersey said. "We lost some really good seniors, and I didn't know how we were going to respond. We've had some surprises. Now, you never know when you're in the playoffs. That's why you play the games."
In the six-man ranks, Hanover (6-3), which beat Kit Carson in a crossover game over the weekend, advanced into the division’s eight-team tournament. The Hornets meet Hi-Plains (8-1) on the road in Seibert.