Perfect finish to perfect season for 7th graders
21-0 win sets Steamboat team apart
Steamboat Springs — When considering the quality of any particular class of football athletes in Steamboat Springs, there’s really only one recent class to compare to as elite.
Sure, there were good classes and strong athletes before and after, but the 2010 Steamboat Springs High School seniors, who played their final season in the fall of 2009 and went undefeated into the state championship game, are the benchmark.
Daren Mangiaracina knows. He was there, coaching that team in middle school, and Saturday morning, he said he saw something that compares, perhaps even favorably.
The Steamboat Springs Middle School seventh-grade football team wrapped up an undefeated season with a 21-0 win against Craig, and that, 8-0, is something not even the heralded class of ’10 can claim.
“These guys are better than that team,” Mangiaracina said. “They need to know that.”
Saturday, it was a hefty dose of running that gave the Sailors the edge over their traditional rivals from Craig.
Jameson Tracey burst around the left side of the line to score the team’s first touchdown in the first quarter. Sean Sullivan took over the scoring from there, cashing in two more touchdowns.
Along with fellow tailback Finn Russell and quarterback Jakob Kreissig, they maintained a steady diet of sweeps to either side, the play calling sprinkled with a few reverses and a few passes.
“We had guys that wanted to play line. We had a true center. We had so many running backs that are phenomenal and a quarterback who was calling me to practice back in April,” Mangiaracina said.
Craig, meanwhile, did manage to occasionally muster a strong defense, but struggled throughout to move the ball.
This season, the Sailors managed wins against Craig twice, Meeker twice, West Grand, East Grand, Rifle and Gypsum Creek to complete the perfect season.
The key, their coaches said, was never in any one play or even any one game, rather an attitude that permeated the entire season.
“These guys are coachable. They took coaching. They took the lessons we taught them, they owned it and believed in it,” said Marco Cuevas, another of the team’s coaches. “You could see it on the field every day; then, there are things out there you can’t teach.”
At 8-0, they’ve won all they can. There are no playoffs to advance through or championships to win, and Saturday, the team seemed reluctant to let things end.
With the game firmly in hand and second stringers on the field, the Sailors were wearing down the clock with running plays up the gut, at least until backup quarterback Thomas Lewer called a timeout with 2.9 seconds remaining.
Mangiaracina was puzzled, and he went onto the field to figure out what happened and apologize to Craig’s sideline for postponing the end. Lewer, perhaps unfamiliar with unwritten football rules about taking a knee and letting time expire, didn’t apologize. He shouted to the sideline, “I wanted to run one more play!”
They did, and then celebrated their achievement.
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