Former champs meet and greet at Homecoming | PostIndependent.com

Former champs meet and greet at Homecoming

Mike Vidakovich
Special to the Post Independent
Members of Glenwood Springs state championship teams from 78, 80 and 08 are honored during halftime of Friday’s homecoming game.
Kyle Mills / Post Independent

The location was the Glenwood High School cafeteria on a rainy October Friday afternoon in 2018, but if you were to do some eavesdropping on the conversation between class of 1980 GSHS graduates Norm Bolitho and Ray McCumber, you would have sworn that the setting was Buena Vista, Colorado and that you were knee deep in the middle of a state quarterfinal football contest in November of 1979.

“I know for a fact that we had two touchdowns called back that game,” said Bolitho in a serious we-got-taken-to-the-cleaners-by-the-refs tone.

Bolitho, who was a junior on that team that was undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state, had to smile and suppress a chuckle when he admitted, “But Todd (offensive lineman Thulson) did say that he clipped a guy on one of those plays.”

McCumber’s memory of that fateful day included four touchdowns that had been called back against Glenwood, upping Bolitho’s total by two scores. Either way, the Demons came up short that day in Buena Vista by the score of 8-3, but both Bolitho and McCumber got to celebrate the following year as Glenwood captured the 1980 state football crown by defeating Fountain Fort-Carson.

There were plenty of memories and familiar faces to go around on Friday afternoon at Glenwood High School, as the GSHS student council sponsored a homecoming meet and greet for players from the school’s 1978, 1980, and 2008 football teams.

While current Demons ate their pregame meal and got ready to face the Eagle Valley Devils, past players mingled in the cafeteria and browsed through memorabilia from the three state title teams that was set up in the GSHS auxiliary gym.

Dakota Stonehouse, the quarterback extraordinaire and engineer of the 2008 Demon title campaign, had a long drive from his current home in Montana to reflect on his time wearing the helmet and shoulder pads for Glenwood.

“On the drive down here, I thought a lot about what it takes to win a state championship. Everything has to come together and go right. It takes the whole community,” said Stonehouse, who also played receiver and quarterback at Carroll College in Montana. “The loss to Sterling in the playoffs my junior year really propelled us to that championship a year later. But it started even before that. When we all played against each other in pee wee football, we knew that when we all got on the same team that we would be pretty good.”

Glenwood’s KMTS radio man Ron Milhorn, who along with Jack Jabbour, covered that 2008 team, got a glint in his eyes when he looked Stonehouse’s way.

“Just an incredible team. He (Stonehouse) was so mature. A terrific leader. And he had a good supporting cast,” said Milhorn.

Standing with the three gold footballs in full view, 1978 quarterback Scott Bolitho and his primary receiver during the glory days, Bobby Stoddard, chatted fondly about games, teammates and even offensive formations that worked, and didn’t work, during their time in Demon red.

Legendary Glenwood football coach Don Miller’s son, John was in attendance at the homecoming gathering, with eyes continually scanning the players at tables and around the room, boasting a smile of approval at what his father played such a big part in creating.

“To see everyone is very touching. I guess the older you get the more nostalgic you get,” said Miller. “I started coming to Glenwood practices with my dad when I was 3 or 4 years old, so this all brings a tear to my eyes.”

Miller’s son, Tristan, a senior on this year’s Demon team, isn’t old enough to dig too deep into the memory department, but he is fully aware of his Glenwood football heritage.

“This (playing football) is what I should be doing,” said Miller. “I do remember being really small and watching the 2008 team, though.”

Former Glenwood High School athletics director Steve Cable was an assistant coach on the 1978 and 1980 state title teams. Cable laughed a bit when he recalled his first year at GSHS (’78) and seeing all of the big bodies out for the first night of football practice that year.

“That was my first year in Glenwood and I thought to myself that if we have all of these big kids, we must be going to have a great wrestling team, too.”

Little did Cable know that most of those big ones went the way of the basketball hardwood.

Current Demon Coach Pat Engle was surveying the scene also prior to leading his team in a pregame walkthrough in the auxiliary gym.

“This high school has been around for a long time, so there is a lot of history and tradition to come back to for homecoming. People come back just to be in Glenwood and connect with friends and family,” Engle said.

It was a night for those who didn’t play football also, as current GSHS teacher and class of 1980 graduate Dan LeVan recalled shoveling snow off the field with his father the day before the 1978 state title game following a mammoth snowstorm that had hit Glenwood.

The architect of the historical 2018 homecoming activities was GSHS language arts teacher Lisa Hartert, who seemed as excited as anyone at the gathering of past and present.

“This has been way cooler that I ever thought,” gushed Hartert. “The current players are really into the historical part of all of this. It’s been neat.”