Foundation for success in place
[ by Than Acuff ]
The Gunnison Cowboys football team wrapped up their pandemic-shortened season with a 35-0 win over rival Olathe to finish their return to varsity play with a record of 3-3.
It was a somewhat abrupt end to the season as they were slated to play one final game against Del Norte last weekend but when Del Norte had to cancel due to COVID exposure, the Olathe win served as the close to the season.
“It was a bummer and we tried to make something else work but it never happened,” says head coach Jarrod Hinton. “It was all right though—we ended on a positive note.”
It was also a cold, snowy and windy finishing note as parents, coaches, even the Gunnison principal showed up at 8:30 a.m. of game day against Olathe to shovel and paint lines for the game with a cold wind whipping across the field.
“It wasn’t ideal conditions but we hustled and worked to get the field as good as it was going to get,” says Hinton.
In the end, the foundation for hustle laid out by parents and supporters prior to the game paved the way for a similar attitude from the Cowboys during the game. After taking a slim 7-0 lead into halftime, Gunnison erupted in the second half scoring on its first two possessions and pulling away for the 35-0 win.
“I think our guys’ mental strength just overcame Olathe,” says Hinton. “We were ready to play and treated it like a normal game as much as we could, despite the conditions. To finish strong against our biggest rivals was pretty good.”
The win provided a fitting cap to the crazy season for Gunnison, a season that Hinton feels could have been more had more been possible.
“We may have had the toughest 1A schedule of anyone and I think we’re a 6-3 team or a 7-2 season with a normal nine-game schedule,” says Hinton.
Now that they’ve finished out their first varsity schedule in four years and will continue to remain a varsity program, Hinton believes the foundation is in place for continued success.
“We got some good young kids in the program, some stability and a good young crew coming up,” says Hinton.
While the team is losing seven seniors to graduation, two of them were starters, and Hinton and his coaching staff were able to get the younger players into games to continue their development without the pressure of playing every down. Hinton expects their experience this year should play out in the years to come.
“They all got the feeling of success, understanding how it feels to win and realizing that it is attainable,” says Hinton. “I think they were all happy with the finish.”