Fall back into football

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The leaves on my willow tree are turning yellow, I can pull the covers over my head when I sleep at night and I can feel a slight bite in the air late at night.

The worry-free days of summer are on the endangered species list, autumn is quickly approaching and football season has arrived.

What happened to summer?

It seems like just last week I was pulling the lawn mower out of the garage for the first time and thinking about hitting line drives past infielders' gloves on the softball field.

Now, the Broncos are back in Dove Valley, the Buffaloes are gearing up and the Sailors are poised to begin a new season.

The Steamboat football team officially will open its season Monday along with the volleyball, tennis, golf, soccer and cross-country teams. Wasn't it just a couple of week's ago that coach Andy Reust and his track team were at Jefferson County Stadium vying for a state title in the final high school sporting event of 2002-03 season?

It isn't that I don't like fall sports. The fall season is one of my favorites in the high school year. The Steamboat teams always are competitive and nothing is quite as thrilling as a playoff football or soccer game. Then there are playoff holes in golf, watching Steamboat runners put it on the line against the state's best at Kent Denver, and the emotional roller coaster that makes up the state volleyball championships.

As much as I love summer, I've learned that nothing compares to the taste of high school sports that fills the mountain air this time of year.

It might be the roar of the crowd during a Friday night football game, the echo of a volleyball pounding off the hardwood floors of a gymnasium or the sweet, smooth sound of a golf ball rocketing off a tee. These are the sounds of a new season full of new promises and opportunities.

The high school sports schedule is filled by three seasons. Each one has its own attributes, but the fall season has a life all its own.

It's fresh and new. The players have an energy and sense of urgency that's not found in the other seasons. Fall is the bridge that carries them from the carefree days of summer to the heart of winter.

In the next few weeks, mountain bike racing, recreational softball and soccer will begin to fade and give way to cooler temperatures, shorter days and the sports that traditionally dominate this time of year.

I guess I shouldn't fight it.

Still, I find it hard to believe that summer has almost run its course.

It isn't that the weather in the fall is bad, but I know that by the time the fall season comes to a close in several weeks, you will not be able to find a single leaf on my willow tree, I will need a comforter on my bed and that bite in the air will become a part of our everyday lives.

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