Pine Creek has given itself the opportunity for a rare Colorado Springs football breakthrough.
Just three city teams have played in the 4A or 5A semifinals in the past 12 seasons, and all three were turned away in miserable fashion (Pine Creek in 2008 and Rampart in 2000 and 2001 were outscored 121-24 in the semis). No Colorado Springs teams have played for a title at the state's two biggest levels since Rampart beat Sierra 35-20 in the 1998 4A finals.
All of that can change when No. 3 Pine Creek (12-0) hosts No. 2 Monarch (12-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday in a 4A semifinal at District 20 Stadium.
The winner will play either No. 1 Valor Christian (12-0) or No. 4 Castle View (11-1) next week in the 4A championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
"It would amazing," Pine Creek running back Shomari Cousar said. "That’s what I’ve been waiting for."
More than waiting for this, Pine Creek has seemingly paid its dues.
The 12-year-old school has made trips to the postseason nine times since 2000, posting an 8-8 playoff record -- certainly a respectable mark, but nothing compared to what the Eagles have done against area competition.
Overall, Pine Creek is 76-16 under coach Todd Miller -- including a 45-4 record over the past four seasons -- and hasn't lost to an area team since a 14-7 setback to Fountain-Fort Carson on Sept. 22, 2007.
Now, the Eagles can carry that success beyond the shadow of Pikes Peak.
"We’re just going to take it to them with everything we have," Cousar said. "We have a lot more to prove."
Saturday's opponent, Monarch, has one of the best programs in 4A. The Coyotes -- based in Louisville, just east of Boulder -- are 85-12 since 2004 and are making their third semifinal appearance in the past five years. The school opened in 1998 and won the 4A football championship in 2002.
Miller said Monarch, like the other teams still in the mix, is known for its defense and physical style.
"It’s basically playing Oklahoma drill for four quarters," Miller said.
While the semifinals are as far as Pine Creek has been, this part of the season is becoming somewhat routine for Florence.
Coach Mark Buderus has the Huskies in the state's final four for the seventh time since 2000. Florence, which won the 3A title in 2002 and 2005, hosts Kent Denver in 1 p.m. 2A rematch of the Huskies' 35-20 victory at Kent Denver on Sept. 17.