A warrior who wears No. 27
RIFLE, Colo. You can tell a lot by listening to the other team.”You’re one hell of a football player, 27,” an Alamosa player said as the two teams congratulated each other after the hard-fought quarterfinal playoff game.His head slightly bowed and tears filling his eyes, Tyler Thompson’s emotions opened up. It was his final game wearing No. 27 for the Bears.Losing hurts. But pride eases the pain.”There’s nothing we should hang our heads about,” Thompson said. “I guess they were the better team today.”The 34-26 quarterfinal loss halted the Bears’ quest for another Class 3A state title.As Thompson talked about his final game, he didn’t mention the three touchdowns he scored, or the interception he had, or the three passes he caught or any of the tackles he made at linebacker; instead he thought about his teammates.”This is my last high school football game. I know we lost, but it’s the memories of my teammates that I’ll never forget,” he said as he and his teammates lingered on the field among family and friends.Head coach Damon Wells found his star running back and pulled him into a tight hug.”I thanked him,” Wells said. “I enjoyed every moment with him in his career.”On Saturday, No. 27 was a workhorse. That’s nothing new. Time after time he pounded into the line, breaking tackles, getting punished by defenders and handing out his own punishment. No. 27 carried the ball 27 times. Many runs were for tough, unspectacular 2, 3 or 4-yard gains.Life of the workhorse isn’t always glamorous.All year, Thompson has been the Bears’ battering ram, and that meant every defense made him the focus.”He’s been banged up all year, and every defense is geared to try and stop him,” Wells said.Alamosa was no different. Its entire defensive scheme was simple: Find No. 27 and stop No. 27.In the third quarter, Thompson was slow to get up after a short run but refused to come out of the game.”That’s the way he is, he never wants to come out,” Wells said. “Some people might not like the word, but he’s a warrior.”On Saturday, Alamosa crowded the line of scrimmage, expecting No. 27 to get the ball. Twice on fourth down, Thompson took the handoff and broke outside for scoring runs of 3 and 5 yards. He finished with 142 yards.His 44-yard blast up the middle cut the lead to 21-19 in the third quarter.Late in the game, tailing by eight, Thompson fumbled inside the 10-yard line.”I just got careless,” No. 27 said.But that’s football. It’s not about carelessness. It’s about winning battles. On that play, Alamosa won the battle. On Saturday, Rifle won some of the battles, and Alamosa won a few more and will now play in the semifinals.Losing hurts, but it’s how the game is played that matters.Thompson left everything on the field, including the tears that come with the final game of a high school career. He also knows that his teammates did the same.”I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. We played hard, everybody played hard,” Thompson said.Pain and pride are always linked in football.No. 27 and the rest of the Bears were warriors on Saturday.Alamosa won, but not without one hell of a battle.Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado, Colo. CO
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.