John F. Russell: Big game lives up to the hype | SteamboatToday.com

John F. Russell: Big game lives up to the hype

It was homecoming week in Steamboat Springs.

It was a time to crown a new king and queen, a time to think about whom to ask to the big dance or just to hang out with friends on the back of a homecoming float as it rocked its way down Lincoln Avenue.

More important, it was the one football game that the home team absolutely didn’t want to lose.

But Friday night, that’s exactly what happened to the Sailors as Eagle Valley crashed the party with a 16-13 win.

After heart-stopping victories against Moffat County and Montezuma-Cortez in Steamboat’s past two games, the clock finally caught up with the Sailors.

On Friday night, one stop was all the team needed to escape with another thrilling victory, but it didn’t happen.

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This time, it was the Eagle Valley players celebrating when time expired.

For the members of the Steamboat football team, it was more disappointing than arriving at the cookie jar with an ice cold glass of milk only to discover that someone else has polished off the last Oreo.

But when Friday’s disappointment finally fades away, the game between Steamboat and Eagle Valley will go down as one of the better homecoming games in recent memory.

Most homecoming games are only slightly more interesting than listening to Martha Stewart explain the proper technique for icing a cupcake.

Athletics directors usually try to schedule the weakest team in the league with hopes of creating homecoming glee.

The result often is a one-sided affair that has all the appeal of a New Year’s Eve party that fizzles out at 11:30 p.m.

But sometimes, the scheduling forces that rule high school sports get crossed up and we end up with a game worthy of all the hype.

That’s what happened Friday when the Sailors and Devils clashed in a contest that affected league standings.

Sure, it would have been better if the Sailors had won the game, but for once, we had a reason to watch the final play.

In my perfect world, every homecoming game would be decided on the final play.

That way the players, coaches and fans would be more likely to remember the game 10 years down the road.

I can’t blame the home teams for wanting to win their homecoming games. I don’t blame them for scheduling opponents that would be easy to beat.

But sometimes I wonder what homecoming would be like if the athletics directors selected the best game of the season for homecoming with little regard for which team was most likely to win.

Last Friday night’s game didn’t inspire the same emotions of a Steamboat-Moffat County tilt, but it’s hard to say it wasn’t entertaining.

It just goes to show that picking the most worthy opponent makes homecoming a little more special — even if the home team doesn’t win the big game.