My challenge |

My challenge

I’m no Knute Rockne, but with the football playoffs starting here tomorrow I thought I’d give my best attempt at a “win one for the Gipper” column.

If you read my columns you’ll know that last year I was unimpressed by the town’s turnout for the Bulldogs’ quarterfinal game in Craig against Florence.

After the Bulldogs’ 33-13 loss, I wrote that I was “baffled and a bit embarrassed that the stands were at best three-fourths full.”

I hope that won’t be the case Saturday.

According to the Web site, the thermometer is only supposed to reach 43 degrees and there is a 40 percent chance for snow. So what? Isn’t that football weather? Besides, the more people there are in the stands, the warmer it will be.

I know that because it is a playoff game, the cost is more than usual and none of the season passes will get you in. But seriously, is seven bucks too much to ask?

Seven bucks for at least two hours of entertainment. It’s rare to be able to go out to eat and not spend seven smackers. You certainly can’t find a deal on entertainment in Craig for that cheap unless it’s at the West Theatre. In my opinion, cold bleachers at Bulldog stadium are more comfortable than the archaic seats in the theater.

I’ve heard stories from former and current coaches about how extra stands had to be brought in for past playoff games. Where did that support go?

Maybe KRAI should black out its radio broadcast to anybody who is physically and financially capable of coming to the game.

It is my hope that last year was a fluke. Everybody was out hunting or raking leaves or something. This year will be different … right?

It’s my challenge to community members of Craig to show up tomorrow, pay the seven bucks and keep warm by yelling loud and jumping around.

Oh and if the Bulldogs and Niwot win, start saving up for next week’s game because Moffat County won the coin flip and will host again.

My other pep talk goes out to the players. A couple of weeks after last year’s loss in the quarterfinals, several students told me that starters had partied the night before the game and some had even come to the game after partying Saturday morning.

From my time with this year’s team I have the impression that its members take this season too seriously to make the same mistake. I think most of the problem graduated.

With that said, I originally believed that Palisade’s punishment to play every game on the road might be a good idea for Moffat County too. That way, the team could be under the coaches’ supervision the night before the game. Now that I think about it more, I don’t see that being necessary for this year’s team.

Other than the “royal rumble,” in which players were wrestling with each other in the back of the bus before the Pueblo West game (resulting, I think, in their poor performance), this year’s team has prepared well for all the other games.

From my limited observations, they have a tunnel vision that ends at the finals and that focus will keep them from too many outside influences.

My high opinion of this year’s team is based on on-the-field and off-the-field performances. The previous two years Bulldog teams had suspensions and an ineligibility during the season. This year’s team hasn’t had an ineligible varsity player all season, and the team GPA of 3.1 qualified the Bulldogs for an academic all-state honor. A high GPA is something that Moffat County athletics specialize in (the school had the most all-state academic teams of any school in Colorado last year), but until this year the football team wasn’t a part of that tradition.

Maybe I’m taking high school football too seriously. I admit that I’m being a bit selfish because of how much I enjoy covering sports in the post-season. I’m excited because the soccer team’s and cross country teams’ performances, teamed with a trip to at least the semifinals for the football team, could make this fall one of the best in Moffat County history. I hope most of you are there to watch the final weeks of football with me and that the players are completely focused on putting up a good fight.

I’m confident that the second statement will happen. The first remains to be seen.

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