This is the tale of a team thisclose.
This is a team that’s had enough “what ifs?” to cause insomnia.
The Poudre High School football team is on the edge of the playoff bubble and needed a big win to snap a losing streak.
Once again the Impalas were right there with a chance to win Thursday night, but once again they fell short.
This one was a 20-13 loss to Horizon on a frigid, rainy night at French Field that clinches the Front Range League title for the Hawks and sends Poudre to its fifth loss in a row.
“We’ve had so many times where we’ve made little mistakes,” coach Marty McVicker said. “We’re just that close to beating one of these teams. A win against this team in the (wild card) points would make a big difference.”
Poudre (3-5, 1-5 FRL) entered the week 31st in wild card points, with 32 teams making the Class 5A playoffs.
Included in those losses five-straight losses is a defeat to Fairview where the would-be game-winning touchdown was stopped an inch short. There’s also a last-second field goal loss to Fossil Ridge.
Thursday’s narrow defeat is a story of more missed chances.
Horizon (7-1, 6-0 FRL) is the best defensive team in 5A, allowing nine points a game. The Hawks went up 13-0 in the first quarter, but Poudre responded.
A 40-yard strike from James Campbell to Zach Leal made it 13-7.
Not long after the Impalas recovered a fumble. On the first play from Horizon’s 25, Campbell hit Jason Wooldridge over the middle.
Right before he crossed the goal line for the go-ahead score, he fumbled and the Hawks recovered.
In the second quarter Poudre also had a 27-yard screen from Campbell to Dillon Foster go for a touchdown, but it was called back on a holding penalty.
Austin Davis hit a 47-yard field goal late in the fourth to cut Horizon’s lead to seven, then executed a perfect onside kick that Poudre recovered.
But the Impalas final true chance at a comeback ended on the next play when Campbell was intercepted.
Poudre’s final regular season game is at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 at Mountain Range. The Impalas almost surely will need a win to have a chance of making the playoffs.
“They’re discouraged after winning three, then losing five in a row,” McVicker said. “It’s a tough lesson. We’ve just got to keep working.”
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.
Horizon 20, Poudre 13
H — Koy Bowen 17 pass from Art Toledo (Halle Underwood kick), 6:55.
H — Toledo 1 run (attempt failed), 3:14.
P — Zach Leal 40 pass from James Campbell (Austin Davis kick), 00:32.
P — Davis 32 kick, 2:56.
H — Cade Verkler 7 run (Underwood kick), 9:02.
P — Davis 47 kick, 3:05.