The Steamboat Springs High School football team has plenty to be thankful for this holiday season: Washing machines to clean muddy uniforms, parents who buy food and coaches who spend hours watching, rewinding and rewatching game film. This year, the Sailors can add one more item to their lists: Practice on Thanksgiving morning.
"I don't think anybody on our team is unhappy about having to practice on Thanksgiving at all," coach Aaron Finch said Tuesday. "It's actually part of the reward. It means we are still playing."
Steamboat will practice at 10 a.m. Thanksgiving Day to prepare for its 1 p.m. Saturday game in Rifle. If the Sailors defeat the Bears in Saturday's state semifinal, they will host the Class 3A state championship at Gardner Field against Alamosa or Florence.
Some Steamboat football players had to alter their Thanksgiving plans because of practices and Saturday's game, but Finch said he hasn't heard anyone complain.
"We don't get to the semis every year," he said.
But that doesn't mean the Sailors didn't plan for it. In fact, Finch said he and his assistant coaches did not make Thanksgiving plans in anticipation of having practices this week.
"We know when the state championship is, and we leave our calendars open until after that," Finch said. "You never know when things are going to come together like they have this year."
The first round of the Class 3A playoffs began Nov. 11. The quarterfinals were held Nov. 18 and 19. With only four teams left, it would be possible to take off this week and resume the playoffs the weekend of Dec. 3, but that scenario would not be ideal for two reasons.
First, it is only going to get colder, and field conditions are only going to get worse. Second, winter sports have started. If the football playoff finals weren't held until Dec. 9 or Dec. 10, multi-sport athletes -- and Steamboat has plenty of them -- would be more than a month behind their teammates.
Besides, football and Thanksgiving go hand in hand.
"It's an American tradition that you go out and play touch football on Thanksgiving with family and friends," Finch said. "We are just doing it with friends, and we're doing a little more than touch (football). I think that's how you look at it."
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