Eighth-grade team shows talent on, off football field | SteamboatToday.com

Eighth-grade team shows talent on, off football field

Luke Graham

The Steamboat Springs eighth-grade football team finished the year 6-2. It's a team head coach Matthew Gantick calls one of the most complete he's ever coached, both on and off the field.

— It didn’t take long for Steamboat Springs eighth-grade football coach Matthew Gantick to realize what type of football team he had on his hands.

Early in this year’s season, while preparing for the day’s practice with assistant coach Joel Rae, Gantick was surprised at the sounds he heard coming from the practice field.

Especially considering it was just 20 minutes after school had let out.

“We stop and we hear them doing jumping jacks,” Gantick said. “We stood up and looked out and there’s the eighth grade in perfect lines doing jumping jacks, getting ready for practice without us telling them anything. It showed an incredible amount of leadership.”

It’s that type of leadership that led to a 6-2 regular season, and made Gantick – who has been coaching youth and middle school football for nine years – realize this bunch has the chance to be special.

“It’s the fact these guys have bought into the team aspect of football,” Gantick said. “I’ve never seen a closeness like that. Beyond that, they have the talent; there’s no weak links.”

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The numbers back up the talent.

Steamboat outscored its opponents, 223-42, this year. Defensively, the team gave up a paltry 3.75 points per game.

With the high school team already reaping the benefits of underclassmen, Gantick said this group is sure to carry on the Steamboat football tradition.

“This group is bound for success,” he said. “If they stay together, the sky is the limit with these guys.”

The team’s captains are Garrett Pugh, Jake Miller and Aleck Gantick.

Beyond the obvious talent on the field, Gantick said the main sticking point with this team has been the camaraderie amongst the players.

Taking on the theme “Band of Brothers,” Gantick said every player played throughout the season, and every player made an impact.

“In my eight or nine years of coaching, this group is the most cohesive group I’ve had,” Gantick said. “They truly are a ‘Band of Brothers.'”

– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com