Nearly every 2004-05 varsity athlete at Moffat County can answer the question, "What's it like to be in the state playoffs?"
Fourteen of 16 Bulldog teams were represented in the postseason during the school year.
"The chemistry between coaches and kids was exemplary this year," Athletics Director Jim Loughran said. "There was good senior leadership and some really good kids overall."
The Bulldogs didn't stop at just making it to the playoffs. Seven of those teams (football, boys and girls cross country, wrestling, girls basketball, boys swimming and baseball) all finished in at least the top 16 in the state.
Highlights were numerous for the collective efforts of the boys and girls in blue. Although there were no state title teams, the boys soccer team qualified for the playoffs for the first time in 12 years, girls cross country returned to state supremacy with a second-place finish, and the boys swim team was the best in school history.
Here's a look at just a few of the top headlines for the Blue and White this school year.
Golf team has 'turnaround' at YVGC -- Sept. 10
The boys golf team had its ups and downs all fall, but the home tournament was one of its ups. Sophomore Shawn Brookshire led the team with a round of 81 and senior Brady Virden and sophomore Kaleb McKey had 82s to lead the team to sixth place. McKey was four strokes from a trip to the state tournament at the regional tournament.
Soccer team gellin' at right time -- Oct. 7
At this point in the boys soccer season, the Bulldogs had just moved into third place in the Western Slope League. They had outscored their opponents, 27-14, and they were preparing for a game against Steamboat. They went onto sweep the Sailors for the first time in school history and made it to the state playoffs for the first time since 1992.
Volleyball must win to continue -- Oct. 21
The volleyball team needed to defeat Delta to make its way into the district tournament. Against the Panthers, the team responded in a do-or-die situation in which it was within a set of ending its season. The Bulldogs lost their first two sets to Delta, 19-25, 19-25, but came back to win the next three sets, 25-22, 27-25, 15-10, to continue their season with a berth to the district tournament.
Bowling through the Bears -- Oct. 23
The No. 4 Bulldogs defeated then-No. 5 Rifle, 28-14, to solidify a second-place finish in the Western Slope League. It was the first time in 15 years that Moffat had defeated Rifle in two consecutive seasons. The senior-stacked football team was ranked in the top five of Class 3A most of the season. For the second consecutive year, the Bulldogs moved into the quarterfinals of the state playoffs before losing a tough, snowy battle to No. 2 Niwot, 22-12. Rifle defeated Niwot the next week and went on to win the state title. Moffat finished 10-2 and the Denver papers named seniors Michael Babb, Stetson Otero and Scott Garoutte first-team All-State.
Tears of joy: Girls take second at state -- Nov. 1
The Moffat County girls cross-country team even surprised itself when it raced to a runner-up finish at the Class 4A state meet. Coach Dustin Ence credited the team's top five runners with their best races of the season. The Bulldogs were ranked no higher than seventh all season before finishing second to Mountain View. Seniors Amelia Parker and Emily Sperl led the team with top-10 finishes. The boys team took seventh place with a team that included only one senior.
As close as it gets -- Feb. 7
The wrestling team squeaked out its seventh consecutive regional title by the slimmest of margins in Montrose. The Bulldogs won all four of their regional championship matches to win the title by half a point. The team ran out of odds-defying finishes at the state tournament with a fifth-place finish, but senior Scott Garoutte and junior Korey Kostur earned state championships.
Three down, many to go -- Feb. 9
The girls swim team left the Western Slope Championships happy with its state-qualifying marks. Then when the swimmers returned to the pool Monday, they realized they had broken three school records. The team qualified six swimmers for state and, freshman Kelsey Conci finished 12th in the 50-meter freestyle at state.
Record breakers -- March 1
The girls basketball team had one of the most successful seasons in years, as far as numbers are concerned. Thanks to numbers compiled by the past coaches and MCHS teacher Eric Unglaub, the Daily Press recognized that the Lady Bulldogs had broken 22 team records after their district title. The team finished undefeated during the WSL regular season and was ranked as high as sixth in the state. The Bulldogs lost to Mullen in the Sweet 16, but not before senior Brandie Telfer became the Bulldogs' all-time leading scorer. Telfer earned first-team All-State honors for her season.
LeWarne resigns as basketball coach -- March 25
To the surprise of most, boys basketball coach Mike LeWarne stepped down after his third season. LeWarne said he wanted to spend more time with family. The boys team finished with a 9-13 record with a young group. The starting lineup of all juniors struggled to find consistency but will return as the most experienced team in the WSL next season. Former baseball coach Scott Parker was hired to replace LeWarne.
Team scrapes together win -- April 16
An exhausted girls soccer team played its third game in four days against Palisade on this date and was able to conquer with a 2-1 win in extra time. The win tied the team with the most league wins, two, in the program's history. They went on to finish 2-10-2 in the league.
Baseball team off to Aurora for districts -- May 6
The baseball team returned to the playoffs after a one-year absence. The Bulldogs finished third in the league with a record of 12-6. The No. 25 seed in the state tournament defeated No. 8 Cherokee Trail, 3-1, to move into the Sweet 16, but then lost, 9-8, to Golden to end the season. With three seniors on the team, one a starter, the baseball team returns one of the deepest groups for Moffat County next year.
The Fab Five -- May 6
The boys swim team prepared for state knowing unless things went absolutely horrible, it would rewrite the school record books. The five seniors, Blake Worsley, Nick Ruckman, Andy Key, Chris Compton and Zach Vorhies, set eight school records, scored nearly five-times the amount of points at state as any previous Bulldog team and had a seventh-place finish. Compton, Worsley and Ruckman had top-five finishes as individuals and the 200-yard medley and 200 freestyle relay teams were in the top five as well. It was a season that could be difficult to eclipse for future swim teams.
Freshman golfer leads way to 2nd -- May 11
The girls golf team found its groove at the right time of the season with its best meet at the regional tournament in Montrose. Freshman Meghan Innes turned in a lifetime best of 89 to finish in a tie for third. The Bulldogs finished second in the region for the third time in four years. Innes was the first Moffat County freshman to qualify for state in girls golf history.
Day 1 dazzling for girls track team -- May 21
Members of the girls track team were peaked perfectly for the state track meet. With top-eight finishes from Markie Workman (eighth in high jump), Brittani Weber (sixth in shot put), Emily Sperl (fifth in 3,200), Angie Charchalis (seventh in 800) and the 3,200-meter relay (third), the Bulldogs were as high as second place at one point during the state meet. The boys team was unable to score at the state meet but expects to return with a talented junior class next year.
Headlines still to come for rodeo team -- TBA
The thick of the rodeo season is coming up, and senior Tia Brannan and juniors Kendel Fawcett and Becky White are all close in the point standings for a chance to compete in the national high school finals.