Colors: purple and yellow
Stadium: Robert Hileman Field
State championships: None
Times worth remembering: Starting in 1974 and stretching through 1977, Saratoga put together one of the best stretches in history. Over those four seasons, the Panthers went 30-4, posting 14 shutouts. Saratoga didn’t give up more than 20 points in any of those 34 games and only 10 opponents cracked double digits on the scoreboard. The Panthers’ four losses were by a combined 18 points.
Times worth forgetting: Four years, one victory: That’s the conundrum the Panthers faced from 1966-69. In those four years, the only win the Panthers could manage was a 17-12 victory over Burns in the 1968 season finale — a win that snapped a 26-game losing streak, including a streak of 15 shutout losses in their previous 18 games. But the Panthers couldn’t capitalize on that one win and went 0-8-1 in 1969.
Best team: For all the struggles Saratoga went through in the late 1960s, the mid-1970s must have felt like heaven. The best team of that bunch was the one from 1974, in which the Panthers split a mythical state title with Tongue River after an 8-0 season. Saratoga gave up just six points all season and scored 348, one of the most dominating seasons in state history.
Biggest win: Football doesn’t often give second chances, but that’s exactly what Saratoga had in 1975. After losing to Guernsey-Sunrise 16-12 on Oct. 10, the Panthers’ playoff chances rested on another shot against the Vikings just 18 days later. The second time around, the Panthers held top-ranked Guernsey-Sunrise to just 109 total yards and, behind Steve Shaw’s two touchdowns, beat the Vikings 20-6. It was Guernsey-Sunrise’s only loss of the year and gave Saratoga its first playoff berth. Saratoga went on to beat Upton later that week for its first playoff victory and a berth in the first Class B championship game of the modern era.
Heartbreaker: Although Saratoga has lost its two championship games by a total of seven points, the biggest heartbreakers came in the form of not getting a chance to play for the championship at all. After a Class B runner-up finish in 1975, the Panthers went 7-1 in both 1976 and 1977 but didn’t qualify for the playoffs in either season. That’s because both times, the Panthers lost to Guernsey-Sunrise for the southeast district’s playoff spot — both times by 14-8 scores. Saratoga lost in the regular-season finale in 1976 in Guernsey and in the fourth week of the 1977 season in Saratoga.