From The Cheap Seats: With playoffs approaching, it’s time to stay classy

Jon Mitchell
From The Cheap Seats
Jon Mitchell
Staff Photo |

This is the time of year that all sports fans love.

It’s the time of year that teams are making playoff appearances, and there’s a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel where the possibility of a state championship lies.

And for people like me, there’s a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel in knowing a much-anticipated break isn’t far away.

In the meantime, there are three teams from Rifle and Grand Valley high schools that are still playing.

Rifle makes return to volleyball postseason

Rifle High School’s volleyball team, thanks to its 2-2 finish in the Class 3A Western Slope League tournament this past weekend in Grand Junction, will play in the regional round of the 3A state playoffs this Saturday. Rifle (11-13 overall) is the 30th seed in the 36-team tournament bracket.

The Bears will travel to Greeley to play at seventh-seeded University on Saturday. The three-team, round-robin tournament features University, 18th-seeded Classical Academy, and the Bears.

It’s the first time Rifle’s volleyball program has been to the postseason in more than a decade — 12 years, actually. The last time the Bears’ season extended past the regular season, an outside hitter named Lisa Samuelson was setting statistical school records which still stand.

Start times are set for 10 a.m. Saturday for Rifle’s match against University, with the Bears playing Classical Academy right afterward at 11:30 a.m.

Cardinals starting volleyball postseason run

Grand Valley’s volleyball team broke an even longer streak last season, but the Cardinals (9-14 overall) are in the process of starting a streak of postseason runs.

A trip to the 3A regional round last season was the first time Grand Valley had made it that far since the 1999 season, when the Cardinals played at the Class 2A level. Playing on that team was Sarah Ryan — formerly Sarah McKinley — who now serves as the volleyball coach at Glenwood Springs High School.

This season, the Cardinals — despite posting a 1-3 record at the WSL tournament — still made the show. They are the 34th seed in the 3A tournament and are making their second consecutive appearance in the postseason. Grand Valley will play at third-seeded Manitou Springs, with No. 22 Pagosa Springs also in the tournament.

The regional will begin at 4 p.m. Friday at Manitou Springs High School.

Rifle preps for football stretch run

Oh, there’s one more team that will likely make the postseason.

The only reason I say that is because, well, with the way the Colorado High School Activities Association’s Wildcard points work, it’s not necessarily a guarantee.

That would be Rifle High School’s football team.

The Bears (7-2 overall, 6-1 Class 3A Western Slope League play) would need help — and some unlikely help — to claim their third consecutive league championship. Rifle would need a victory on Friday at Eagle Valley (5-4, 3-4) coupled with a victory by Moffat County (2-7, 1-6) over second-ranked Palisade (8-1, 6-1) in Craig on Friday.

If both Rifle and Palisade win on Friday, Palisade would win the league title. That comes due to the head-to-head tiebreaker, which leans in favor of the Bulldogs, thanks to their 28-27 victory over Rifle at Bears Stadium on Oct. 4.

Rifle’s 52-27 victory this past Friday over Delta, however, did make a difference in the Bears’ postseason hopes. Rifle moved from No. 15 to 12th in the points standings, which take into account everything from a teams strength of schedule to its margin of victory and/or loss.

That means that even a lopsided win over the Devils at Hot Stuff Stadium in Gypsum won’t make a huge difference in where the Bears land at the end of the regular season.

The top 16 teams in the points standings go to the Class 3A state playoffs. The teams that finish in the top eight earn first-round home games in the state playoffs.

Anywhere in the Top 16 is fine with the Bears, though. Rifle coach Damon Wells always says his team’s goal every season is simply to just make the playoffs, regardless of seed. And Rifle has made good with a low seed, with the Bears’ state title in 2004 coming the same year the Bears were the last seed in the playoff bracket.

Tone it down a little

As cool as it was to see a packed house at Bears Stadium this past Friday for the Rifle/Delta football game, there were a few things I saw that made me roll my eyes.

And after I rolled my eyes, I blurted out “Really? I mean, REALLY?”

There’s a few fans who have started to mirror the first-down chants Palisade incorporated at its home football games a while ago. To top it off, they’re mimicking the “IN-COM-PLETE!” chants which have been a staple at Denver Broncos home games for decades. Those, of course, follow an opposing team’s failed pass attempt.


I mean, REALLY?

First, I have nothing against cheering on the team you want to win. I can’t cheer for anyone because it’s my job to be impartial, but I won’t fault anyone for rooting their team on in a positive manner. The only problem I have with the first-down chant is that it was taken from another school and isn’t exactly original.

That said, throwing out an IN-COM-PLETE chant at a high school football game — anywhere — is a special kind of stupid.

There’s nothing wrong with doing it at an NFL game. Peyton Manning makes more money in a 15-minute quarter than most of us do in a calendar year, so those players can be razzed a lot when they mess up.

There’s a fine line on college players. Many of them get thousands of dollars worth of tuition money given to them for strapping on a helmet and shoulder pads. They’re also old enough to be drafted, but they’re not quite adults yet.

There’s no place for that at the high school level, though. These are kids who pay a participation fee and, in a lot of ways, are still developing. Chanting like that and razzing the other team sets a bad example in so many ways, ranging from the impression that’s left with the home team to the impression that’s left with opposing teams.

There are so many positive things that have come out of Rifle’s football program in the past four years. Why leave something negative for someone else to talk about?

I think the right answer to that question is rather obvious.

Jon Mitchell is the sports editor of The Citizen Telegram. He can be reached at (970) 384-9123, or by email at

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