The Sports Guy saw the first few hints of snowflakes fluttering down around him earlier this week. Right on cue, another fall sports season has come to a close and the winter seasons are starting to ramp up.
Before we turn the page completely though, I'm cleaning out my closet to make room for those holiday presents with a few final fall thoughts.
• Calling all middle school girls —the Powell High School girls' cross country teams have brought home five consecutive state trophies, including three nice shiny state champion awards in that stretch. Potentially, the team could have as many as four former all-state runners lining up in the starting chute when the season opens next fall.
Granted, I might be displaying a little hometown bias, but in my book, that qualifies you for frontrunner status in the discussion for 2011 state champion.
What the team needs, however, is a little more depth.
The Panthers brought home the hardware this fall by avoiding the injury bug. In a sport that requires five healthy bodies to reach the finish line, there were times during the year that PHS could only line up that many. That's one sprained ankle away from disaster.
So, while there are several sports options for girls in the fall, here's hoping at least a few of this year's eighth grade class will find their way to cross country next fall to help the team keep its run going.
And for those who don't want to run for fun, I hear head coach Troy Hildebrand might not mind an additional golfer or two in order for the Panthers to vie for team awards in 2011.
• Sophomore season —Here's a tip of the ol' ballcap for Northwest College head coach Rob Hill on earning coach of the year honors in Region IX this season. Taking a program from the conceptual stage to the regional championship game in its first season is impressive any way you slice it. The fact that Hill was able to do it despite getting a late jump on the recruiting process was even more noteworthy.
Now comes the fun.
With a full recruiting cycle ahead and eight all-region selections coming back on the men's and women's sides combined, the Trappers have a good foundation for the future. Add to it an anticipated move to a new field closer to campus, which should help attract larger crowds on those great sunny days, and there's no reason not to be looking forward to seeing what Hill and the Trappers trot out onto the field next fall.
• Ready for some football —Falling by three in the first round of the playoffs was a painful way for the season to end, but for the underclassmen on the Powell High School football team, it should also provide motivation.
If 2010 was a question mark season for the Panthers, then 2011 should be an exclamation point sort of year. The team graduates nine seniors this spring, but brings back a host of returning starters and skilled reserve players that should have every fan salivating.
Barring the mother of all defensive performances in this weekend's 3A championship game between Douglas and Buffalo, sophomore Vince Sleep should finish as the state's top defender. The Panthers will have two players back who ranked among the state's leaders in all-purpose yardage at various points this season, offensive and defensive lines that will return virtually intact and a ballhawking secondary that produced a double-digit interception count this season.
That's a nice framework any way you look at it.
If the off-season dedication to the weight room equals the potential displayed on paper, Panther football 2011 should get a lot of people excited. Even for that possible new road trip to Green River.
There's probably more that could be said, faithful reader, but we're out of space here. So let's throw a couple more marshmallows into the hot chocolate mug, sit back and wait to see what the winter has in store.