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 It’s almost unbelievable to talk about next year’s high school lacrosse season when the best one Steamboat Springs High School has seen just ended.
But something unprecedented is about to happen in Steamboat.
The advent of classifications next season will change the landscape in Steamboat for the foreseeable future.
Simply put, the goal from now on isn’t just making the playoffs.
It isn’t trying to win a game or two.
No, from here on out, the goal for the Steamboat lacrosse team will be to try and win a state title.
That’s a stern proclamation. But with two classifications, it has to be the goal. Steamboat won’t see the huge 5A schools in the postseason. It won’t see the state’s premier program in Kent Denver in the playoffs.
Instead, it will see teams more on its level.
Consider the four other teams that made the 24-team bracket this season that will make up 4A next year.
Evergreen, Air Academy, Cheyenne Mountain and Wheat Ridge made the playoffs this season and will make up 4A next season.
Air Academy, Wheat Ridge and Steamboat all made the second round. Steamboat, earlier in the year, beat Air Academy.
That bodes tremendously well for Steamboat.
The move to two classifications has been a long time coming. Steamboat coach Bob Hiester said before lacrosse became a Colorado High School Activities Association-sanctioned sport, the game was played with two classifications. They were based on record.
And as the sport has blown up in recent years — it now boasts the highest participation at Steamboat Springs High School — the move to two classifications was necessary.
Certainly, Steamboat has closed the gap on some of the Front Range teams. Heck, they finished this season with a 5-2 record against Front Range teams.
But the gap between Steamboat and Kent Denver was immense. Anyone that saw the second round playoff game can admit that.
If it had stayed like it was, getting to the second round might have been the best Steamboat could have ever hoped for.
There usually are six teams in the state that year-in and year-out dominate. Consider that since 2009, the top eight seeds in the playoffs are 30-2 in the second round.
That gap never was going to close.
But now that there are two classifications, Steamboat year-in and year-out should be the bully.
A tradition that has started possibly could become a dynasty.
The move to 4A gives Steamboat its brightest chance at a state title.
And that should be goal for this year’s juniors and sophomores. Don’t just try to win the conference again. Don’t just try to win a playoff game.
From here on out, the goal is to win a state title.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com