Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs Editor's note: This story has been modified from its original version to correct an editing error that gave the incorrect date for the Nov. 13 game against Berthoud.
In football, there usually are three unique sets of players that make a team.
There is the offense, the defense and the special teams.
It’s not uncommon for one group to get on the other group. But in Steamboat, it’s almost impossible for one unit to get mad at another.
If the team did, it would be schizophrenic.
That’s the thing. This Steamboat team isn’t one of normal circumstances. A majority of the players who play offense also play defense. Those also are the same guys who cover kicks, return kicks and take care of special teams.
Going both ways is nothing new. Some teams — like Berthoud on Nov. 13 and most of Windsor’s team Saturday — have the luxury of playing 11 different guys on each side of the ball.
Steamboat, because of numbers and necessity, doesn’t have that luxury. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Take Saturday’s 31-7 playoff win against Windsor.
In the first half, Steamboat’s offense turned the ball over on downs three times inside the Windsor 16-yard line. That would be enough for any defense to get angry at an offense.
But instead of getting mad, the offense simply changed sides of the ball and had its best game of the season.
The classic line of the year came against Glenwood Springs. Joe Dover threw a pass for 25 yards, ran for 117 yards, caught four balls for 36 yards, made an interception and made 17 tackles.
But it’s that type of production that has gotten this team where it is now.
As the season has progressed, talking to coaches became redundant. Year in and year out, every coach says the same thing.
It’s all about team unity. It’s 11 players playing as one. It’s one team with one common goal.
Blah, blah, blah.
Unfortunately, that’s not usually the case. More times than not, there is some sort of dissension on a team.
But in Steamboat, where the team has advanced to the semifinals of the Class 3A playoffs for the first time since 2005, it actually is one group. It is about team unity, it is 11 players playing as one and it is a team pursuing one common goal.
“It’s the total result of the team,” Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said.
Plus, they don’t really have any other choice. They put their best athletes in the best positions. Often, that means a majority of Steamboat’s players play both ways.
It’s a throwback of sorts. Watching athletes play both ways makes football junkies nostalgic.
And when blame and excuses are taken out of the equation — like in Steamboat, where if something goes wrong, a player can look only at himself — great things can happen.
Great things like deep runs into the playoffs.