Listen to the two exchange one-line digs. It seems as if they are sibling rivals rather than football coach and player.
Senior Casey Earp jokes with assistant Bob Harris about his age, suggesting that maybe Harris, a coach in Steamboat Springs for nearly 40 years, needs some assistance getting to his car.
Harris chuckles then suggests maybe he should call Earp's mother so she can come down to the school to help answer any questions the senior may have about putting on his clothes.
"Let's just put it this way, coach Harris is old enough that he was placing bets on David and Goliath," Earp said.
Harris, 62, just shakes his head. Even coach Mark Drake, a 35-year coaching veteran, has to laugh at that one.
"I'm the old man. There's no question," Harris said. "They say things like, 'I'm ready for the rest home' or 'I'm older than dirt.'"
And Harris is fine with it -- at least he is nowadays.
For the past 35 years, Drake has patrolled the Steamboat sidelines as an assistant or head coach. Neither Harris nor Drake is certain, but both believe they've worked together for at least 26 of those 35 years.
Both technically are retired from teaching, but Drake still is instructing some high school P.E. classes part time. His contract to teach and coach expires at the end of the semester, however, and the Steamboat Springs School District has expressed no interest in offering Drake another contract.
Members of the community have gathered at School Board meetings or in the Gardner Field stands to show support for Drake, and indirectly, Harris, Drake's longtime and loyal assistant.
Regardless of one's opinion as to whether it is time for Steamboat football to head in another direction, it is undeniable that both have given more years to one district and its athletics program than some people are fortunate enough to have in a lifetime.
And the years of winning a few games, or finishing .500 or years such as the 11-2 season that ended Saturday in Florence are ingrained forever in each coach's mind.
"Football has been a part of my life for 48 years," Drake, 56, said. "Coaching has been my life and everything to me. Being able to feel like you've had some impact and given the kids some direction makes it all worthwhile."
After the D'Evelyn win Nov. 15 and the Florence loss Saturday, former players gathered on the field or in the locker room to celebrate the win or reflect on the loss. Drake remembers every name and every face.
Harris and Drake share many of the same philosophies on coaching and life. They are great friends with sharp football minds. Both entered the profession with similar outlooks on how to handle players, and they have adapted over the years, as the players and what those players wanted in a coach changed.
"The thing that is consistent is that they have to know you care about them," Harris said.
When Harris and Drake began coaching more than 30 years ago, they possessed drill-instructor attitudes on the field, both said. Structure worked for the players they had in Steamboat in the 1970s.
Heavy doses of negativity won't work now. The players ask more questions and expect more answers. A majority of today's players respond better to encouragement than discipline.
"I guess it's just being honest and respecting them for who they are and treating them with that respect," Drake said. "This year has been such an exceptional one because these kids played with such passion. As a team not blessed with tremendously skilled people at every position or great size, they played with a lot of heart. They don't let egos get in the way."
Harris and Drake have coached their fair share of teams where individual results were more important to some than the team. The year-to-year motivational tools the coaches have to use to get into players' heads and hearts varies as personalities change.
The 2003 season, Drake said, was unique in that the Sailors had an abundance of self-motivation to be great. They were coachable and listened well.
"Your greatest thrill is when you have kids that play above their so-called potential," Harris said. "I've always felt in my career (that) the minute that I don't think I could get it out of the kids, you can't be there. I still feel like I could do it."
Listen to the two exchange compliments. It seems as if they are talking about their best friends rather than their coaches. Lonny Radford and Casey Earp play other sports, but each said the relationships they have established with Harris and Drake truly are unique.
"I talk to them like I talk to my teammates and friends," Radford said.
A high school coach, Earp said, should be someone he can talk to, someone that is down to earth with extensive knowledge of the game. In Harris and Drake, he has that.
And in Harris and Drake, if Saturday was indeed their final game as Steamboat coaches, the Sailors were fortunate to have two men who gave all they had to each other and to Steamboat football for nearly three decades.
"I think we're darn near the perfect match," Harris said.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org