Fifty years after the fact, members of Poudre High School’s 1969 football team are still celebrating their unlikely win against the Grand Junction Tigers to claim the Impalas first and only Class AAA football state championship. It was an outcome no one had expected.
Ranked fifth at the opening of the season and considered underdogs in nearly every game they played, the team, from a school only six years old, pulled off a 11-1-1 season record. Prior to their 20-29 championship win at Grand Junction, they managed back-to-back victories against Cherry Creek and Arvada, both No. 1 ranked teams. The Impalas defeated Pueblo Central in the semi-final game. They suffered their only loss of the season to Arapahoe.
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Mark Loader, guard, and linebacker on the team, fondly recalls the camaraderie that existed among the team members. “We didn’t have an outstanding star, but we worked so well together. We were all buddies. We had nicknames for each other. We formed a pact, agreeing to refrain from alcohol consumption.” Back then the player wore coats and ties to school on game days.
Current festivities honoring the championship team members began with a proclamation by Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell, also a former Poudre High School football player. He took obvious pleasure in recognizing the team members and supporters who were present for the occasion.
The team continues celebrating with a golf tournament followed by lunch and later a tailgate party in the French Field parking lot before the Poudre-Fort Collins High School football game.
Each veteran will be honored during the half-time celebration. The following day, team members have plans to remember and thank El Burrito Restaurant for treating the entire championship team to a meal “on the house” after their historic win. The restaurant will be given a football signed by the team members to recall the occasion.