Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Joel here.
The rule is almost as old as the game of football itself: “Play for the win on the road and the tie at home.”
It’s about two-point conversions, or maybe field goals and touchdowns. Really, it’s about any waning-seconds decision at the end of a football game. The supposed logic behind the rule is that your chances to win on the road only diminish with time. The opposing fans will only grow more restless. Your own players, after a long day of travel, will only grow more tired.
You’re supposed to go for the jugular when playing on the road and you’re supposed to squeeze the life away from your opponent at home.
The rule obviously wasn’t written for the situation the Steamboat Springs High School football team found itself in Friday night, and coach Lonn Clementson and his Sailors deserve a lot of credit for breaking it without hesitation.
Trailing 20-19 with less than two minutes remaining, they faked an extra point, went for two and won the game.
Steamboat didn’t pull off any kind of shake-the-state upset when it knocked off Lutheran Parker, 21-20, in Steamboat Springs. The Lions will finish in one of the top two spots in their league, the Class 3A Metro West, but they’re no threat to storm to the state title game.
Still, they’re a good team, probably among the top one-third in the state, and it’s hard to imagine a win meaning more to the Sailors.
One morbidly remarkable thing about the two-plus-season losing streak Steamboat entered this season with was just how long it was. It’s hard to go two years without a win simply because there are always a handful of other hapless programs out there.
Steamboat came close to winning a few games against those teams, but it seems fairly remarkable that it didn’t actually pull off the feat until this season.
All three of Steamboat’s wins this season before Friday night were against those bottom-dwelling teams. Considering the snapping of the streak and the lopsided margin in two of those games, it was definitely right to celebrate.
And it was still fair to wonder whether or not the odds were simply finally evening.
Beating Lutheran, however, is a far stronger indication that things are trending positive for the Sailors. Odds don’t even out against teams like that.
It’s been a rough couple of years for the Sailors, for their fans and for their coaches. Numbers in the program have dwindled amidst the losing and, yes, I wondered whether or not a change at head coach was imminent.
Friday’s win was validation, though.
It was validation for Clementson, who showed that week after week of hard work can pay off.
It was validation for the players, who showed that they weren’t crazy for sticking with the time-consuming sport through two heart-draining seasons.
Maybe the rule says you go for a tie when you’re playing at home, but Steamboat won a lot more than a game Friday, and there was no real choice to be made. The Sailors went for the win, and they won big.