After finishing the regular season with just one loss, it might have been easy for the players on the Hiway Bar's flag football team to expect they would cruise through the playoffs to the title.
But four of the seven teams in this year's city of Steamboat Springs Adult Flag Football League finished the regular season with at least six wins, and three games separated the top four teams in the league. Winning the title was the last thing the Hiway Bar (11-1) was taking for granted.
"There is so much parity in this league," said Todd Camilletti, team captain for the Hiway Bar. "There were four or five teams that could have won this title."
But in the playoffs, the Hiway Bar used a solid running game, timely passing and teamwork to survive the final stretch of the season and snatch this year's title from Johnny B. Good's/Joe Pete Lorusso Bail Bonds/Chaos Ink (9-3) in the championship tilt.
"This was a strong team from top to bottom," Camilletti said. "We had a solid running game, we could pass the ball and do whatever it took to win."
Hiway Bar faced a showdown with last year's defending champions, Johnny B. Good's, in the finals.
The teams played through rain in the first half, and when the two teams lined up for the second half, the rain had turned to snow, and passing the ball was almost impossible at Ski Town Park.
But the Hiway Bar managed when Jeremy Haptonstall rushed into the end zone to secure the 14-0 victory.
Parks and Recreation coordinator Christina Freeman said this year's league has become more competitive.
"The division between the top teams and the rest of the league is less noticeable these days," Freeman said.
She said the influx of younger players has made winning a title much more difficult. And that's something Camilletti and his Hiway Bar teammates now know first hand.