Sailors send-off set for Friday

Finch: Business as usual for football

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If you go

What: Football and cheerleading team send-off

When: 12:15 p.m. Friday

Where: Maple and Third streets in downtown Steamboat

Other: Fans are encouraged to begin lining up around noon to cheer on the teams as their buses leave Steamboat Springs High School for Denver.

Online

Can’t make it to Denver for Saturday’s state championship game between Steamboat Springs and Valor Christian? That’s OK. Steamboat Pilot & Today will bring the game to you. Log on to www.steamboatpilot.com at 2:30 p.m. Saturday for a live video stream of the game. If you’re away from your computer, you can also follow @steamboatpilot on Twitter for live scoring updates throughout Saturday’s contest.

Buy tickets

To buy tickets for the state championship game, click here. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students. Tickets also can be purchased at the game.

— For those who haven’t heard, the Steamboat Springs High School football team will play for the Class 3A state championship this weekend in Denver. But with just a couple of days left before kickoff, it’s hard to find signs of the Sailors approaching the game with anything other than a business-as-usual attitude.

Despite the hoopla around the game, Sailors coaches said things inside the team locker room haven’t changed much.

“I think with this team it feels normal,” Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said. “The week that felt abnormal coaching this team was the Berthoud (first-round playoff) game. We just didn’t feel like ourselves. Now we’re joking; we’re laughing. They listen in film. They’re just being themselves. They’re the same group that got us here.”

Of course, there is a buzz around town.

A community send-off for the football and cheerleading teams is planned for 12:15 p.m. Friday along Third and Maple streets near the high school. Fans are asked to line the streets near the school to show their support as the buses filled with players roll out of town. Send-off organizers encourage spectators to begin lining up at about noon.

The football team plays at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against Valor Christian at Legacy Stadium in Aurora, and the cheerleaders will compete at 6:08 p.m. Saturday at the Denver Coliseum.

Finch said his team appreciates all the support it’s getting from its hometown fans. And he said the team’s preparation for the state championship game is not much different than any other game-week preparation. The only real difference, he said, is on the coaching end.

“It’s impossible to keep it totally normal,” Finch said. “The biggest thing for the coaching staff is the challenges and distractions, phone calls and interviews. Finding the time to do the normal workload is tough.”

As for the players, Finch said he hasn’t noticed much of a change. Although they could be hailed as local celebrities, they certainly haven’t let the magnitude of the game get in the way of the task at hand.

“It doesn’t seem like it yet,” Finch said. “It’s still early in the week, but I think with how we design our week — (Wednesday) was our defense day, (today) is our offensive day — things haven’t been that different. I’ll be really busy for the next 24 hours. That’s when you really get like, ‘Let’s go play.’”

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