The playoff picture for the Moffat County boys football team didn't extend far in the 2006 season, but excellence in the classroom did.
The Colorado High School Activities Association named the Moffat County Bulldogs the Class 3A state academic team champions for its cumulative GPA of 3.26.
"It'll be nice to look back and know that we were the best in state at that time for something," senior Chris Pankey said.
The Bulldogs made it to the 2006 playoffs' first round before being derailed by then-undefeated Summit County.
But the sting of losing to the Tigers has faded, and Pankey said the work in the classroom and on the football field was accomplished by the team members doing it on their own.
"There were no team study groups," Pankey said. "At the beginning of the year, on the last day of three-a-days, the coaches told us they expected the football players to sit in the front of the class."
That expectation led to no varsity players being academically ineligible the entire season.
"That was one of (coach Kip Hafey's) priorities," Pankey said, "and one of our goals in the locker room."
Another academic first-team selection senior, Chris McAlexander, said if the entire football squad, freshmen through varsity, remained eligible for the year, the coaches would shave their heads. They came razor close.
Still, assistant coach Lance Scranton said that the staff was proud of the award.
"Academics, (the coaches) believe, are as important as anything they do on the field," Scranton said. "Because, unlike the stereotype most people have (about athletes being unintelligent), you have to be smart to play sports."
Melanie McDaniels can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org.