A beautiful game

Semipro football teams take field

When semipro football came to town, so did the snow, lots of it.

Of the many athletic events that Dolores has hosted, last weekend's semipro football pitting the New Mexico Miners against the Grand Junction Gladiators stood out.

Played on a snow-covered field on April 26, the game featured two groups of tough workingmen, who, over the course of four quarters, competed with reckless abandon while producing something beautiful.

After 60 minutes of tough, physical football, the scoreboard favored the Gladiators 9-6, yet the final tally was only one part of the story.

Other pieces of the story included a yearning for camaraderie, a desire to compete, and, more than anything, a primordial passion for the game of football.

Offenses struggle on snowy field

In the days leading up to the game, coaches were likely not expecting snow.

Thanks to a flurry of white flakes in the hours leading up to the contest however, the Gladiators' opening kickoff rose off a field covered with snow.

Struggling to deal with the conditions, the Miners offense struggled early, yielding a safety to Grand Junction's Ed Johnson early in the first quarter.

The Miners struck back however, scoring early in the second half after quarterback Tim Tsusuie a 30-yard touchdown pass from Tim Tsusuie to Jenner Begg.

A subsequent 61-yard punt return by Gladiators' speedster Mitch Howard put Grand Junction ahead 9-6 however, and, due in part to slick conditions, the lead held.

"Our defense was stellar today," said Miners' defensive back Fred Christensen, who had two interceptions. "On offense, it was hard to throw the ball around."

Camaraderie highlights contest

While offensive struggles were one part of the game's story, interactions between teammates played an integral role in the game's story.

On the field, teammates consistently stood up for one another and on the sideline, compliments were exchanged.

Despite diverse backgrounds and different professions, players appeared to share a common bond, which, according to players, resulted from hours spent battling in gridiron trenches.

"There are a handful of us on this football team who have played for seven or eight years together," said Christiansen. "It's just what we do."

Trash talk adds to competitive flair

As much camaraderie between teammates pervaded the sidelines, consistent trash talk between opposing players permeated the field.

Intent on securing a win, players exchanged words, plays continued long after the whistle and emotions ran high.

"There was a little bit of chattering out there, trying to get in each other's heads, but that's all part of the game," said Christiansen. "We like to compete and we all want to win."

Love of football defines contest

More than anything else however, the story the game was about a love of football.

Yes, offenses struggled, teammates came together, and opposing players exchanged words, yet when the game ended and the teams joined together, passion for football was all that mattered.

"It was a great game," said Miners' cornerback Brian Ehmke, a former Dolores High School football player and current youth football coach. "I think that everybody gets out here because they love the game of football."

As a result of that love, Dolores experienced something beautiful on Friday night. Now, football fans can only hope that such beauty returns to the area in the near future.

New Mexico Miners quarterback Jenner Begg escapes the rush during a semipro football game on April 26. Enlargephoto

Ian MacLaren/Dolores Star

New Mexico Miners quarterback Jenner Begg escapes the rush during a semipro football game on April 26.