Tigers coach Mitch Martinez said all season long that there was something special about his team.
He was spot on. The Tigers rolled to the Class 4A state title at the Aurora Sports Park in October, beating Mountain View 10-3 and claiming the schools first 4A title since moving up to the states second biggest classification four years prior.
“It’s kind of surreal, just to be here and all of the sudden here we are,” said Tigers coach Mitch Martinez, after the victory. “You can’t even imagine what it feels like to be here with these kids.”
“It happened so fast that we thought something good was happening. We stayed so focused on what’s the next task at hand and we never really looked ahead. We never really saw ourselves here and we never really looked past the next task, and we’ve been that way all year.”
The unquestioned leader of the Tigers was senior pitcher Erin Caviness. Her numbers in the circle were spectacular, including a 21-1 overall record. She struck out 170 batters in just 130.1 innings and had a 1.98 ERA. She earned Player of the Year honors from both CHSAAnow.com and likely from BoCoPreps.
The bats were just as potent. The Tigers finished with a team batting average of .430, that included seven regulars that hit over .400, led by junior lead-off hitter Anna Martinez’s .483.
Coach Mike D. Gabriel’s team has never shied away from some of the best competition the state has to offer.
This past season was no different and it started off with a bang when the Tigers welcomed in reigning Class 4A champion Pueblo South to open the 2018 slate. Hopes were extremely high after a 19-7 victory over the Colts.
The Tigers got off to a 5-1 start with impressive wins over Glenwood Springs, Roosevelt and 4A quarterfinalist Skyline mixed in. But the injury bug soon bit and Gabriel and his staff had some serious reshuffling to do entering the meat of their North Metro League schedule.
The Tigers took their lumps in back-to-back weeks at home against both Frederick and Mead before righting the ship towards the playoffs.
Holy Family qualified for the Class 3A playoff as the No. 12 seed and opened up with Harrison in Colorado Springs. After a dismal first half that saw the Panthers jump out to a 20-3 lead, the Tigers rebounded in the third – highlighted by a 75-yard kickoff return from Braedon Peters — to draw within 26-21 going to the final quarter.
But the Tigers didn’t have enough in the tank to rally all the way back and ultimately had their season come to an end 34-28.
“I’m very, very proud of this group. To go through what they went through last year and to work as hard as they have since February to get where they are, including all the bumps in the road, they’ve come so far,” said Gabriel, whose standout tight end Kyle Helbig committed to play at Colorado State. “I’m very proud.”
Making it to the Denver Coliseum has been the norm for the Tigers over the past decade.
This season was no different, even with the young roster that head coach Krista Solomon had on the floor for most of the season.
“Especially after we graduated such a solid group last year and I heard a lot of it during the offseason about it being a rebuilding year,” she said. “But I get in some ways that was true, but for us, it says a lot about our leadership — Ali (Travis) especially — with that drive to get back here.”
Holy Family finished runner-up in the Tri Valley League behind Windsor and earned the right to host one of the 12 Class 4A regional tournaments. They welcomed in D’Evelyn and Pueblo West and beat both of them – D’Evelyn in five – to win the regional title and advance to state.
Seeded No. 7 in the newly formatted double elimination tournament, the Tigers rolled through the first day with victories over Silver Creek and No. 2 Discovery Canyon. A second day loss to Niwot moved them over to the elimination bracket, where they avenged a late season loss to Evergreen on Saturday to move in to the state semifinals for the third straight season.
The season came to an end there against two-time defending champion Lewis-Palmer, who went on to beat Niwot in the final.
Travis, who committed to play at Florida Southern in Lakeland, Fla., was the consummate team leader throughout the season both on and off the court. She led the Tigers with 388 total kills, going over 800 career kills midway through the season, 58 aces and was second to junior Peyton Frank (581 digs) with 355.
The Tigers started the Dave Martinez chapter in style.
A longtime coach and fixture in the area, Martinez inherited a Holy Family team that had all the talent in the world, but had struggled to find ways to win the big games in years past.
The schedule challenged them from the get-go and a majority of the players on the team will tell you they learned all they needed to know about themselves in their opening 2-0 loss to 5A No. 1 Fairview.
They scored impressive wins early on against Peak to Peak, Jefferson Academy and Windsor. The Tigers shared the Tri Valley League crown with Skyline after a 1-1 draw with the Falcons on a cold October night.
Holy Family drew the No. 10 overall seed in the 32-team Class 4A bracket and hosted Evergreen in the opening round. The Tigers got an overtime goal from sophomore Dylan McIntosh to advance to the second round.
There they traveled to Colorado Springs to take on The Classical Academy, in what will be remembered as one of the most bizarre games in recent memory. After 110 minutes of 0-0 soccer in the cold and blowing snow, TCA officials had to shovel off the penalty area for a deciding shootout. It went nine rounds, with the Titans advancing 7-6 on kicks.
“It was a good game and a good run,” Martinez said. “Now we have something to build for next year.”
It was one of the most dominating seasons in recent memory for the Tigers golfers.
Jacob Mason, Garrett Green, Jackson Grace and Alex Mumm were nearly untouchable throughout the season and rolled to Tri Valley League title, with Mason collecting four victories in TVL events.
The Tigers dropped down to Class 3A for the postseason and in their first big test, finished second at their regional tournament that qualified the aforementioned foursome to state.
The state tournament was at Boulder Country Club and the Tigers, who had visions of taking home some hardware, finished third behind Aspen and Kent Denver.
But Mason, who won the regional championship, was again the story and he finished sixth after shooting 74-71 over the two days.
His scoring average was a stellar 69.9 strokes per round over the course of 12 events. In addition to his medalist honors in four Tri-Valley League events, he won the Eaton Invitational and was a regional champion at CommonGround G.C. in Aurora against arguably one of the best fields in the state.
“The highlight of my season was being able to win regionals, and going to state as a team. I also enjoyed being in contention at state on the last day,” said Mason, who in October traveled to Reno and won a FCWT Junior Golf Tour Event at the Wolf Run Golf Club. “I just need to keep grinding, and be better about forgetting the bad things that happen out there and focus on what’s ahead.”
Former Holy Family standout Danielle Medearis took over from legendary coach Dave Good and the Tigers didn’t skip a beat.
Goals were met and records fell.
Both the boys and the girls teams qualified for state. Leading the way for the boys was senior Christian Montoya, who became the first Holy Family runner to break the 16-minute barrier and replaced Erich Hixson on the all-time leaderboard.
At state, Montoya finished 13th overall and helped the Tigers to a seventh place team finish. On the girls side, sophomore Alyssa Wells was the top Tigers harrier at state, finishing 27th overall.
Medearis is proud of the way her young team progressed over the course of the season and is confident that they can build on what was a wonderfully successful season.
“I’m extremely excited for next year,” she said. “The key to next season will be having a good solid summer and I want to do a number of things differently this upcoming summer that will allow them to have more consistent runs. They will have that solid base, so that when they come in to season, they will be a better starting point.”