For my first commentary as a Pilot sports reporter, I'd like to take the time to commend Steamboat Springs High School on its athletic program.
As a recent graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where I once lived and breathed Husker football, I've become accustomed to a winning tradition.
Nebraska, which is No. 1 in the country in both major college polls, has three national championships in the past six years and is headed for its fourth. Steamboat Springs, meanwhile, has several high school teams also in contention for championships.
This has been a blessing for me to have landed my first job in such a successful sports environment. I could write great things about all the programs here in Steamboat, and what they've been able to accomplish in the past three months. As it is, I've been assigned to devote most of my attention to the football team.
Briefly, though, I want to commend coaches Rob Bohlmann, Wendy Hall, John Smith and John Aragon who all turned out excellent teams this year.
Bohlmann's soccer team recently clinched the conference title and Hall has the volleyball squad in line for a similar championship, too.
Smith's cross country teams head to regionals Oct. 21 at Delta, and Aragon's tennis players recently won a regional crown.
The football team, meanwhile, has compiled an impressive 6-1 record with its only loss coming to No. 3 ranked Palisade on the road. The Sailors were defeated by three points, 36-33.
With three games remaining on its regular-season schedule, Steamboat has an excellent opportunity to make the regional playoffs. If the Sailors win their final three games, the playoffs are a sure lock. The top three teams in the conference qualify for the playoffs, so the Sailors, who are third, would go to the show.
If they beat Rifle Oct. 27, the Sailors will find themselves in second or possibly first place in the conference, depending on how Palisade does the rest of the season.
This season's football team is truly impressive. Stewart Beall, who missed three games this season with an ankle injury, is now the team's leading rusher with 624 yards. Derek Haverley averages slightly more yards than Beall, and has 481 yards himself. Rusty Eck leads the team with more than 1,000 yards of offense.
Forgive me for saying this, Buffalo fans, but the Sailors are similar to the Huskers in many ways. Steamboat uses a powerful ground game that wears down opponents, and the team eventually turns out a high-scoring performance. The Sailors take minutes off the clock successfully, and they can go to the pass when they need to.
The Sailors have tremendous depth, like the Huskers, and their quarterback loves to run the option.
The defense, meanwhile, allows just 12 points per game. In the Sailors' last game against Moffat County, JoJo Bucci and gang held the Bulldogs to six points.
The Sailors' scoring power is certainly enjoyable this year, but I also got love for the different personalities that make up the team.
Bucci, with his scruffy beard and muscle T-shirts, is a perfect captain for the 2000 Sailors. For one thing, it is he who gets his teammates fired up before games, using a little heavy-metal music.
Ryan Wattles generally helps my stories with his unpredictable and memorable quotes, and Gaspar Perricone has the coolest fashion-statement on the team with his "phat" bandanas.
Tristan Covillo gets the badge of honor for playing through a torn meniscus, and Eck wins the tough-man award for being a 6-6 quarterback who lowers his shoulder when he has to.
I haven't forgotten the other guys, either. Each of the players has the talent and discipline to go a long way once their careers at Steamboat Springs are finished. But, for now, the guys in red have a mission to accomplish, and that's to bring home a championship for us football fans. Go Sailors.