Remembering past Glenwood Springs High School state championship experiences
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado Its rare, its unique and its very special.There are only a few men who have experienced winning a football state championship while playing for a team in Garfield County.On Saturday, Glenwood Springs will go for the schools third state title. The Demons trophy case currently has hardware for state titles in 1978 and 1980.Roaring Fork High School has three football championship trophies. The Rams won it all in 1973, 1977 and 1985.The Rifle Bears have three state titles as well. They won their first title in 1961, which was a co-championship after the game ended in a tie. The Bears then waited another 12 years before picking up their second in 1973, then it took another 31 years for them to win their third title in 2004.Rare indeed. Its been 23 years since Roaring Fork last won a title. Rifle waited 31 years to bring another trophy home, and now Glenwood Springs will go for a state title 28 years after its last football championship win.For the players who played on those title teams, the memories remain strong even today. The Post Independent talked to a few of those players to get their feelings on what it was like to be part of a state football championship team.
I liken it to what these Glenwood Springs guys are going through, said Patch, adding many members on that team began playing with each other in the first grade. Everyone knew where everyone was going to be. It was a like a group of brothers coming through. We were the same tight-knit group.Patch, who was the Rams quarterback and wore number 10, added his team had a much different style of football compared to this years Glenwood Springs team. When his team played, it didnt have the air attack this years Demons team has, Patch said. He called Dakota Stonehouse outstanding.We were a lot of run, and we passed when we needed to, said Patch, recalling his football team.Patch lives in Glenwood and is a general contractor.
It was a lot like what the (Glenwood Springs) kids are saying today, Bolitho said. We had a common goal. We played for each other. We were truly good friends. We were wanting to (win) for our teams and our coaches.Bolitho, who was the Demons quarterback and wore number 15, said he would have loved to run the spread offense like the way this years Glenwood Springs team.It wasnt invented when I was playing, he sad.That said, Bolitho remembers his team being similar to this years team.We had a very balanced offensive attack, he said of his teams strong running and passing game. Our defense was the same. Everyone swarmed the ball. There were a lot of good, hard-hitting guys on the defensive side of the ball. It was hard to score on our defense.Bolitho lives in New Castle and is a partner with Glenwood Insurance Agency.
Kirk Swallow was a wide receiver and defensive end on Rifle High Schools 1973 state title team. He went to state during his junior year and wore jersey number 80. In the title game Rifle beat Yuma 8-7.As wide receiver I actually caught the winning touchdown pass against Yuma. I ran a couple down and outs and then I did a down, out and up and I was just wide open. I thought that ball would never get to me. Coach Cooper always instilled in us that we were a team, and it took all of us to be champions. I think thats true for any state championship team.Swallow is now president of Swallow Oil Co. in Rifle.
We were the number four seed going in. Nobody really expected us to do much. Those four weeks really stick out in my mind as a time of people coming together. We had a lot of belief in what we were going to be able to do. The field was just incredibly icy, almost to the point where it was really hard to play, or especially to run the ball. It was just this mud-ball.Kosht wore jersey number 51 and was a junior middle linebacker and offensive lineman for Rifle High Schools 2004 state title team that beat Sterling 7-6. Kosht is currently in his junior year at University of Colorado at Boulder.
For the 78 team, I just remember we werent ever going to lose. That team was such a complete team, Bolitho said. They werent weak in any area. They were so solid in every aspect that year.Bolitho said the 1980 team wasnt very big but were really fast and we had really good team speed.I think we outworked everybody we played, he said. When I hear (this Glenwood Springs) team say they play for each other, the 1980 team was another team that played for each other. We grew up together.On the 1980 team, he was quarterback but then was injured and came back as a running back and wide receiver. He played on special teams on the 1978 team and was also the back-up quarterback to his brother, Scott Bolitho. Norm wore jersey numbers 10 in 1980 and 16 in 1978.Bolitho said that feeling was true for the seniors on the 1978 team. It is a common thread that wins state championships, Bolitho said. They just have a sense that they just play together, and they play for each other. Norm lives in New Castle and is a teacher at Glenwood Springs High School and coach of the schools C-team basketball squad.
Hanks said all the members on the two state championship teams he coached were just exceptional kids.It is a lifetime experience to win a state championship, he said. When you have a state championship team, you always have great affection for each other.The other key experience from the state championship wins was the community pride that came along with them, Hanks said.State championships dont come along too often, he said.Hanks said the 1985 team won a state title by beating schools that were two to three times the size of Roaring Fork High School. That year, the school competed in the same league as Glenwood Springs, Rifle and Steamboat Springs, Hanks said.That was quite an achievement for those kids in 1985 to do that, he said.The highlight of the 1985 teams state championship game was the tackling of Battle Mountain High Schools Jeff Campbell, who would later play for the Denver Broncos, during a try for an extra point at the end of the game. The Roaring Fork team won the title by a score of 14-12, Hanks said.Hanks lives in Redstone and is a retired teacher and coach.
As to what I remember, mostly the friends that I played with all those years ago. The way we were lucky enough to play in our home town, among the families that we grew up with, and not too far from the backyards where we learned how much fun the game could be. The day of the championship the field was deep in snow, and I remember all the parents clearing it so we could play. Theyd never done that in the backyards so maybe that made the stakes a bit higher.Bowlby was a defensive back and kick returner for Glenwood Springs High Schools 1978 state title team. Bowlby wore jersey number 96 that year for the victory against Valley. It was his senior year. Bowlby is an artist.
It was a home game. On the Friday night before the game it snowed nearly a foot. I remember the whole town came out with rakes and shovels. They cleaned off that field very quickly and it was unbelievable. We had banks of snow around the field. They must have had over 100 people out there raking and plowing and shoveling. We played Valley and beat them pretty good. They came out at least in the hallway with their home jerseys on and (coach) Don Miller said, No way.Thulson was a guard and linebacker for the 1978 Glenwood Springs High School state title team. Thulson was a senior that year and wore jersey number 64. He lives in Glenwood Springs and works as an attorney at the Balcomb and Green law firm.Gordon Cooper, Rifle coach 1961 & 1973 title teamsIn 61 we tied for state champion with Louisville 6-6. In those days they didnt have overtime. It was frustrating they said like kissing your sister through a screen door. We won it in 73 when we went 22 straight games for two years, and then we lost the first game, then won the state championship against Brush. You dont win those suckers every year. Some coaches coach for all their lives and never do win a state championship. We were kind of lucky I guess.Cooper lives in Rifle and has been retired since 1987.
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