Saturday, November 22, 2003
The further you go, the harder you fall.
I've seen it time after time since coming to Steamboat Springs more than a decade ago.
It doesn't matter if it's volleyball, soccer or football, it's always the same.
The deeper into the state playoffs a team advances, the more difficult it is to lose.
The members of the Steamboat Springs High School football team found out just how much losing stings Saturday when they fell to the defending state champions, the Florence Huskies, in the state semifinal game.
In the seconds after the 13-6 loss, it seemed as though the world came crashing down on the young players who laid or kneeled on the snow-covered field, but the the only thing falling from the sky was snow.
While it was obvious that the players were focused on the disappointing events that had unfolded in the previous four quarters, nobody else was disappointed.
Not the fans who traveled the four hours from Steamboat Springs and braved a second-half snowstorm that dumped several inches of snow on them, and not the other members of the 1979 state title team that cheered this team's efforts.
Former Steamboat Springs running back Tom Southall was among the parents, players and coaches who stood on the field after the loss.
Southall, a member of the 1979 state championship team, is one of a few players from Steamboat Springs who knows what it's like to win a state title. He also knows how difficult it is to get to that final game.
He knew exactly what the team was going through in those agonizing moments that followed the loss. He also knew how much the team had given. And still he applauded.
Sure it's easy to focus on the loss.
But the Steamboat players and fans need to remember the offense that combined for 4,449 yards of total offense and quarterback David May who passed for 2,425 yards.
Lonny Radford and Chris Dombey combined for 1,500 receiving yards and together scored 12 receiving touchdowns. Radford accounted for 1,350 yards from scrimmage.
It's only the third Steamboat team in 30 years to advance to the state semifinal game, and the team's only losses this season came to the two teams who will play for the state title Saturday. And let's not forget that the Sailors topped both Moffat County and Rifle in the regular season.
Off the field, the Sailors came together as a team and found out they were stronger as a group than they were individually.
Their friendships attracted hundreds of fans from Steamboat to a podunk field in Florence to cheer for a single cause. They also proved to Florence and a host of people in Southern Colorado that football players in Steamboat can do more than ski.
Sure the fans and players are disappointed that they will not be hosting the Palisade Bulldogs in the championship game, but they shouldn't be.
-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail email@example.com