Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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As soon as it became official that the Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team would make the playoffs for the first time in school history, attention instantly turned to whom, where and when the team would play.
It's going to be a tough balance for the coaches and athletic directors who make up the seeding committee and are given the task of putting out a 24-team bracket.
For those who don't know, the lacrosse playoff bracket works this way:
- The top eight seeds are given a first-round bye.
- Seeds nine through 24 play in the first round, with the higher seed hosting. In the second round, the brackets are reseeded, with the No. 1 seed playing the lowest remaining seed, and so on.
- The kicker in the deal, at least for Steamboat, is that according to the Colorado High School Activities Association, conference champions are guaranteed a top-16 seed and at least a first-round home game.
The Sailors, at 13-0 overall and inaugural champions of the Mountain Conference, should therefore play at home in the first round.
Although this isn't set in stone - nothing ever seems to be in playoff seeding - it would be a travesty if the Sailors weren't given a home game.
It's pretty common knowledge that the Mountain Conference is the weakest in the state. That's not being harsh, it's just the truth.
Teams in the conference, excluding Steamboat, are all relatively new to high school lacrosse. Most schools in the conference have maybe 500 or 600 players to choose from, while teams in Denver and surrounding areas have thousands.
That said, this is the best Steamboat team in school history. The record indicates it and just watching the games certainly tells it.
The Sailors are deep at all three levels. Offensively, the line of Andrew White, Gus Worden and Chase Grippa is tough to defend. The Sailors roll out lines of talented midfielders, with Garret Ehrick leading the way as the best and most consistent player in the conference. Defensively, the team hasn't been tried too much this year, but with senior Jasper Gantick anchoring the back line, the Sailors should be set.
It's the most complete team Steamboat has ever had.
The bottom line is if Steamboat had played in the same conference as last year, the team would have most likely been pushing for a playoff spot. Now that the team is undefeated - an impressive task no matter what conference a team plays in - it deserves that home game.
There, the Sailors will most likely see a Denver team, maybe even one that administered beatings to a program in its infancy just years ago.
And this time, we'll all get to see just how far Steamboat has come. The guess here is they've come far enough to get into that second round.