Rebels honor past champs

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By Dan Johnson

LAKEWOOD — A decade can seem like a lifetime.

It can also go by in a flash.

Columbine football coach, Andy Lowry, felt a little of both after his team’s 34-10 homecoming victory over Arvada West on Oct. 2 at Jefferson County Stadium.

Before the game, the Rebels honored members of the 1999 state championship football team by having them lead the current group of Rebels out onto the field.

The 1999 title will always hold a special place in Lowry’s heart, not just because it’s the first state title he won at Columbine (he’s got three others), but because of the circumstances that surrounded it.

The 1999 team will always be known as the team that battled through unprecedented circumstances to win a championship. The community, still reeling from the effects of the school shooting that spring that took the lives of 13 people, practically pinned their hopes on the chest of the football players. The media, both local and national, covered the Rebels’ run with a relentless tenacity.

“When I look back, I’m amazed at what they were able to accomplish,” Lowry said. “They were surrounded by so much heartache and so much attention, I don’t know how they did it.”

They did it the way Columbine football has done things the past decade: they worked harder than anyone else.

When you stack the Rebels’ roster up against some of the other teams in Class 5A Big 8 League football, they clearly aren’t the fastest or most athletic team. The Rebels never have been and likely never will be, despite most teams adopting a flashy, spread offense that puts the quarterback in the shotgun and throws a bevy of receivers out on the field.

Instead of following suit and conforming, Lowry has bucked the system and is decidedly old-school in his approach. Can’t argue with the man; after all, his teams have won four state titles in the past 10 years and even in the years they haven’t won, they’ve been right in the mix.

The Rebels choose to pound opponents into submission. While the Chatfields and Bear Creeks of the modern age like to try and score as quickly as possible, the Rebels elect to grind things out on the ground. Simple stuff. Runs up the gut and runs to the outside. Occasionally the Rebels will run out of the shotgun and will mix in a forward pass or two to keep the defense on its toes, but for the most part, it’s smash-mouth football and for the past 10 years, it’s been the best football in the state.

It all started in 1999, though, where a group of kids, still dealing with a wide range of emotions, came together as one and showed the state (and the nation) that flash and substance don’t matter; hard work and results do.

“To see these kids grow up into young men that are responsible and hard-working, it’s something to see,” Lowry said. “I’m really proud of them.”