The Steamboat Springs High School football team is enjoying a special season.
The Sailors are the closest they have been to the state title since 1979, when they won it all. Steamboat reached the semifinals Saturday with a 22-0 win over previously unbeaten D'Evelyn.
The statistics tell the story for the Sailors. Steamboat has scored 48 touchdowns and outscored its opponents 397-209. Senior quarterback David May leads Class 3A in passing and is believed to be the first Sailor quarterback to throw for more than 2,000 yards in a season. He has thrown 19 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. He also has rushed for more than 200 yards and nine touchdowns. Senior Lonny Radford has caught 41 passes for 809 yards and six touchdowns and has rushed for another 414 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior Chris Dombey has caught 25 passes for 539 yards and six touchdowns. Senior Brad Bonner leads the Sailors in rushing with 597 yards and eight touchdowns.
But the most important statistic for the Sailors is the team's 11-1 record. The only blemish was a 41-31 loss to second-ranked Palisade on Sept. 27. Next week, Steamboat will travel to Florence for a chance to go to the state championship. Florence beat Moffat County Saturday.
It's worth noting that the Sailors have continued to win despite the ongoing personnel dispute between the team's head coach and the school district.
Sailors coach Mark Drake, who has been at the school for 35 years, has said he is being forced to resign. He told his players before their game Oct. 17 that he would step down at the end of the season. Days later, Drake's attorney, Michelle Desoer, said the coach's resignation was not his choice.
The school district has said it awarded Drake a contract to coach one more season on the condition that Drake submit his resignation along with the signed contract. The district contends Drake willingly chose to accept the school district's conditions.
The district also said it is investigating allegations against Drake and that Drake is aware of the allegations. Neither Drake nor the district will say what those allegations are.
There is no use speculating. Only Drake, his attorney, the School Board and school administrators fully understand the reasons behind the coach's resignation, and only they can determine what, if anything, happens next.
What is clear is that Drake and the school district have prevented the dispute from affecting the team's performance. For the players' sake, we hope that can continue. Drake's status is a personnel matter that he and his attorney must resolve with the school district. That personnel matter should be kept separate from what is happening on the field.
The Sailors are enjoying one of their finest seasons in years, a season worth celebrating. Kudos to Drake and the district for not letting their dispute interfere with that season. But most of all, congratulations to the Sailor players, particularly the 15 seniors, many of whom are playing organized football for the final time.
We hope their run lasts as long as it can. Go Sailors.