Lance Scranton: The valleys

Lance Scranton

What a whirlwind of activity this Labor Day weekend! It all started in Baggs, Wyoming (where I now teach) for a Rattler thumping of Meeteetse by a score of 78-28. It was the first six-man game I’ve ever seen and the action and explosive plays were plentiful.

Not to be outdone were the mighty Bulldogs (where I retired as a coach), who clashed with down-valley rival Steamboat Springs on that same Friday night where I had the privilege to call the game with my broadcast partner Shane Hadley. The Bulldogs made light work of the Sailors, cruising to a 33-0 victory that was highlighted by dominant line play on both sides of the Moffat County team. To cap off the flurry of football activity, we were in Gunnison on Saturday to watch Western Colorado (where my two youngest sons are currently on the team; one as a player and one as a coach) take down West Texas in a grudge match as the Mountaineers tamed the Buffaloes 28-6.

The wide array of teams and traditions were on display by each school as the Rattlers look to three-peat as state champions. The culture around football at LSRV is all about winning and stepping up to take the place of the players who have gone before and paved the road of excellence that the program has been enjoying for the past many years.

The Moffat County High School Bulldogs have built a solid tradition of winning the past five seasons, and the state playoffs are the minimum of expectations with this year’s team goal to advance past the first round. The Western Colorado Mountaineers won a conference title just two seasons ago, tripped up in the playoffs, but appear to be headed for another solid season with a strong opening game. The commitment to play college sports is off the charts compared to my old college days!

What’s really neat about being a retired coach who still gets to be around players and watch games is just how absolutely joyous it is to watch teams perform without having to be concerned about strategy, personnel, footwork, penalties, matchups and all the other myriad decisions that a head coach carries around each day as preparation for contests get closer. The perspective has changed but the fascination with how teams play out their strategies and adjustments will make me a football fan forever.

I am blessed to be able to cheer for three different teams who bring a completely different type of experience to the different games. I love talking to students about the life-changing skills you learn as a player and how much the time and dedication to a craft is something worth experiencing if you really want to understand the value of team-work, roles and sacrifice. No game, in my estimation, compares to football when it comes to delivering a product on game day dependent on the play of potentially 50-60 players all doing what they need to do to support offensive drives, defensive stops, and special teams scoring and field position.

Many have asked if I miss the gridiron games, and I can honestly say that football helped make me the man I became and I wanted always to give back to the sport that taught me so much but now I can do it in a different capacity. As a true fan and color commentator, the game is still the same but my perspective has adjusted and I want to make sure that players know how much their exploits on the field make old coaches and players like me feel like I’m still part of a group of people who understand the highs of winning, the lows of coming up short and all the stuff in between that makes football such a special brotherhood.

The valleys that make up the three teams I got to watch win this weekend are each unique in their own way, and I’m happy to be a part of the traditions that make fall the perfect season for some football. See you at the games!

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