Steamboat Springs Those looking for a reason to be excited about the Steamboat Springs High School football team's 2009 season might not have to look further than the 2008 Class 3A state champion.
Saturday, Glenwood Springs capped off a 14-0 season with a 23-14 win against Fort Morgan.
The Demons - who play in the Western Slope League - used the 2007 season and playoffs as a starting point for 2008's remarkable run.
In the 2007 state playoffs, Glenwood was the No. 2 seed but was upset by No. 15 Sterling. For a team that was then full of juniors, the sting of the Sterling loss helped narrow the focus for 2008.
"That Sterling game is always at the back of our minds," Glenwood senior Bennett Nicola told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent after Saturday's game. "That taught us a big lesson, to give 100 percent every play, every game, no matter how big an underdog the other team was."
For perspective, this year Steamboat was a team chalked full of juniors that lost in the first round of the playoffs.
While that certainly doesn't mean Steamboat will be the favorite to win a state championship next year, Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said there are some small similarities.
"We know it's more than just talent," said Finch, whose team played against the Glenwood seniors for three years. "The seniors really have to take on that leadership role. As a coaching staff, it's preparing them for the season, not just game-to-game. Do I feel like we have a great opportunity of going far? Absolutely."
Finch - whose team lost 47-0 to Glenwood in the final regular season game of the year - said he wasn't surprised at all by the Demons' rise to state champion.
In fact, Finch said, he would have been more surprised had Glenwood not made it.
"I wasn't surprised that they could go on and do it to the rest of the state," Finch said about Glenwood, which outscored its playoff opponents 172-77. "They are just a classy bunch of men and a quality coaching staff."
While Steamboat won't focus on football or talk about next season until the spring, Finch said if there is a model to follow for next year, Glenwood would be it.
"I don't like leaving the season with a bad taste in my mouth," Finch said. "We've made the playoffs four times in a row and our seniors can take a lot of pride in that. Palisade is the only other team that can say that. We ended every season with a loss, and that's something we need to fight through and change."