Thursday, October 10, 2002
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs seniors Johnny Stanko and Brenden Gormley have played football for six years waiting for a shot at varsity minutes.
The wait continues, but each is hopeful tonight's homecoming game against Glenwood Springs might bring them their first smell of Gardner Field grass on their helmets and uniforms.
They could be bitter about not getting on the field, especially because younger kids are being called upon day after day to fill the holes left by starters kicking off cleats and picking up crutches.
But they aren't.
"It's about winning and the team," they said.
The team-first attitude extends from scout team guys to the starters on a Sailors team at 4-2 overall and 2-1 in league play still very much in position for the postseason.
At the beginning of the season, Steamboat selected T.E.A.M.-Together Everyone Achieves More as the motto for this season. It has quickly become more than a slogan slapped to the back of a T-shirt.
Coach Mark Drake said never has a season's theme seemed more appropriate.
"It isn't like one individual carries us," Drake said. "It's amazing what you can accomplish when no one gets the credit."
Heading into tonight's game against Glenwood Springs at 7 p.m. at Gardner Field, Drake will have endured one of the most difficult points of the season homecoming.
It isn't that he thinks it's an insignificant point in a high school football season or that it isn't fun to generate school spirit and enthusiasm. He just said it's hard to get players to focus on the most important part of the week Friday night's game.
"It's a good time for them and I want them to enjoy it and look back on it with fond memories," Drake said. "But like I told the kids, when you talk to people about homecoming, they don't ask who was the band and what songs did they play at the dance or did your float win. They ask did you win the football game."
Steamboat certainly plans to hold up its end of the homecoming deal.
"It's exciting because it's homecoming," junior receiver Chris Dombey said. "But it's just the game that's exciting."
Dombey, along with several of his teammates, admits to not getting overly into the dress-up days and festivities. They are more concerned with winning the game. Drake has no complaints with that, considering Steamboat are in no position to overlook any opponent, especially Glenwood Springs.
The Demons enter tonight's game 3-3 overall and 1-2 in Western Slope play with losses to Moffat County and Palisade. The win came against woeful winless Cortez.
"They have the potential to do very well," Drake said.
Glenwood Springs runs a double tight, double wing formation with one back, which Drake says it blocks extremely well. His defensive players must key in on their responsibilities and stick with them.
"If everyone comes out and plays well, we can shut them down early," Dombey said. "If we play four full quarters we can beat anyone."
In recent weeks, the Sailors have hurt themselves with penalties and turnovers. Injuries haven't helped either.
When Drake runs down the list of who's out, he notices he could almost form a team.
Wide receivers Cameron Shinabarker and Jeff Franks will not play. Backs Lonny Radford and Pat McMahon are also out, while quarterback David May and linemen Wayne Cluster, Mike Herbert and Will Zimmerer are banged up.
Younger kids, however, have stepped in and will be expected to do the same tonight.
The homecoming parade begins at 2 p.m. downtown. Students will be dismissed from school to observe and participate in the parade. The homecoming royalty will be announced at halftime of tonight's football game.