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Rifle Bears win the state championship

Kim Doose

The Rifle Bears have run from devils, pounced on panthers, battled bulldogs and finally, on their own turf, fended off the Sterling Tigers.

More than 3,000 people from all over Garfield County came to watch the team who had been labeled as underdogs upon entering the playoffs in November, capture the class 3A football state championship this past Saturday in Rifle.

While Bears fans are some of the best around, no one, it seemed, could match the five spirited seniors from Rifle High School who came shirtless, and had painted themselves blue and gold.

“We thought if they could get themselves to state, we could take our shirts off in the cold,” said Josiah Cox.

After the clock ran out, the crowd stormed the muddy field and swarmed around the coaches and players, whose faces showed an ironic mix of tears and elation.

After having believed in and chased a dream so big, when it actually came true, it still seemed unbelievable to many of them.

“It’s every kid’s dream that wears the pads to get here,” said Bill Sanderson.

The coaches and players shared the triumphant moment surrounded by their biggest fans: their family and friends.

“It’s brought a whole league together and built a lot of school and community spirit,” said Bears fan Ross Ingersoll.

Which is what happens when the underdogs win. In the beginning, the road is harder, but in the end, the success is that much sweeter.

It’s the kind of thing that feels like so much more than a win ” because it is.

It’s a legacy.

From left, Russell Rauman, of Silt, a general contractor and owner of Harvest Homes; No. 1 Rocky Rauman, a senior; and Rusty Rauman, of Silt, who works for Harvest Homes.

From left, Debbie Zemlock; Janell Knight; Tracy Beauford, a bookkeeper at City Market; and Mike Knight, a youth counselor at the Emily Griffith Center.

The Alderson family of New Castle, from left, Nanci is a Mary Kay distributor; No. 24 John Alderson, 18, a senior; and John Alderson, a supervisor at United Parcel Service.

From left, Keri Johnson is a teacher’s aide at Highland; Vickie Zang is a nurse at Grand River Medical; and Jan Hubbell is on the school board and is a mortgage officer at Wells Fargo, all of Rifle.

From left, John Sowieja; Zack Sowieja, 17, a senior; and Nan Sowieja.

From left, Ross Ingersoll is an X-ray technician at Grand River Medical; Fran Ingersoll is retired; Shari Fruetel works for Re-2; and Kurt Fruetel works for Western Valley Irrigation.

From left, Lexi Wright, 13; Dani Wright is a broker at ReMax Grand Valley; Audrey Thornton, of Silt, works at JC Penney; Jeroen Thornton, 13; and Jasmine Scheele, of Parachute, who works at Super Wal-Mart in Rifle.

Rifle High School seniors show their spirit. From left, Brandon Leuallen, 17, Brandon Killinger, 17, Choda Martin, 17, T.C. Sumter, 18, and Josiah Cox, 18.


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