PUEBLO – Peyton players, parents and fans lingered on the field well after the Panthers finished off Fowler to claim a state championship on Saturday.
One more picture. One more hug. One more moment.
The lack of urgency made sense, too. For so long, this group has simply encountered the end of the season by swapping one uniform for another in another sport, but largely staying intact as a core.
Now, this is it. As a group, they are no more and ready to live on only in the record book and Peyton gymnasium rafters as the class that changed the school’s standing among 2A programs in the state.
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Peyton's Rupert Shaw makes a hit during the Class 2A state baseball championship game against the Fowler Grizzlies on Saturday afternoon at the Runyon Field Sports Complex in Pueblo. The Panthers took home the state title, 3-0.
Peyton's Rupert Shaw looks up to catch a ball during a play.
Panthers players dump a water jug coach Kelly Nickell in celebration after their win against the Fowler Grizzles for the Class 2A state championship title.
Peyton's Josh Gonzales and Fowlers Gabriel Proctor both signal to the ump after Gonzales ran to second.
Peyton's Rodney Gregg watches a ball as he runs to first base during a play on Saturday afternoon.
Peyton's Nick Bachmeier throws the ball to first.
The Peyton Panthers cheer and point at the crowd to thank them for their support throughout the year.
Peyton's Josh Gonzales drops his bat and makes a run for first base.
Peyton's Josh Gonzales leans back to avoid being hit by a ball during their game against the Fowlers.
Peyton's Josh Gonzales reaches up to catch a ball after a a Fowlers batter hit the ball into outfield.
Peyton's Cameron Schaefer runs his hand through his hair as he stands at the edge of their dugout and a bluebird day at Runyon Field Sports Complex in Pueblo.
Peyton's Chance Claman makes a cloud of dust and debris as he dives into third base.
Peyton's Nick Bachmeier throws the ball toward first base during a play in the Class 2A state baseball championship game.
Peyton's Josh Gonzales swings and hits the ball before running to first base.
Peyton's Brennen Meyers runs toward third base.
Peyton's Brennan Meyers hits the ball.
Peyton pitcher Rupert Shaw throws a pitch. Shaw pitched the full game against the Fowler Grizzlies on Saturday afternoon.
Peyton's Austin Strobel throws the ball to Rupert Shaw at the pitchers mound after they made a play in attempt to tag out Fowler's Luke Bitter.
“It starts with a little luck,” said DH Trevor Walker, who quarterbacked the football team the past three years, of finding a collection of talent like this in the same small town at the same time. “And then there’s a lot of hard work, you mesh together.”
The Panthers, behind this senior class, made back-to-back state title games in baseball and went 82-9 in baseball over four years. They also didn’t post a losing season in football and went 28-4 over the past three years.
“There’s a lot of pride that comes with it, and it’s also really humbling,” said running back/center fielder Josh Gonzales. “You see these other high schools with these cocky players, all of our guys are so humble. None of our guys try to show off or anything, we just come out here and play our hardest.
“We come out and strive for excellence every day. We don’t do anything over the top. … It makes for such a special bond. We know these guys will have our backs going forward no matter what.”
Added senior pitcher Rupert Shaw, “We have so much (pride in our school). Our class in general is such an athletic class and has been since the beginning of our school days. We just brought it together as a team. It just feels great.”