By Sydney Goldenstein
As the 2015 football regular season comes to an end and the boys move on to the state tournament, each player finishes with what they started.
“What makes up this year’s team is how well they play together, their good sense of teamwork and being unselfish,” said head coach Rob Busmente.
The Tigers kicked the season off with a 26-7 win in the game against Elizabeth. The team had a total of 266 rushing yards, with 105 credited to quarterback, said senior Michael Mitchek.
Sterling fell 46-6 to the Mead Mavericks in the second game of the season. Senior Brennan Skerjanec scored the Tigers’ only touchdown that game.
Fans left Tiger Stadium satisfied after the game against Strasburg with the 26-18 win. The win improved Sterling’s record to 2-1 on the season.
The Tigers routed the host, Wray Eagles, 42-6 in their second away game. Juniors Braedon Kloberdanz, Austin Chavez, Austin Burkholder, Mike Chavez, sophomore Christian Rose, and freshman Isaac Harris each contributed to the win with one touchdown each, with the exception of kicker M. Chavez, who also had a total of six kick points.
In the Homecoming game vs. University, the Tigers dominated the Bulldogs 47-7, a huge game for Sterling. Senior Michael Mitchek and junior Austin Burkholder both had three touchdowns (TD), and junior Tyler Graber had one TD. Kicker M. Chavez contributed five kick points to the score. Running back Austin Burkholder had a total of 230 rushing yards this game, only 40 yards short of breaking the school record from ’95.
“I felt good knowing that I had 186 yards at halftime,” said Burkholder. “In that back of my mind I knew I could have had the record, but I didn’t have the chance to play most of the second half since we were winning by so much. I was kind of disappointed knowing that if I had played the whole game, I could’ve broken it by a lot.”
“My favorite game of the whole season was against University because we stomped them,” said A. Chavez, Sterling’s receiver and cornerback.
The Tigers next took on the Vikings at Valley’s stadium, leaving with a 23-13 win. Michael Mitchek was credited with 12 total points, Isaac Harris with 6 points, and M. Chavez with three.
After having a bye-week, Sterling took on the Eaton Red’s. The Tigers went home with a close 18-17 win. With 30 seconds left in the game, senior quarterback Michael Mitchek connected with freshman wide receiver Isaac Harris on a 23-yard pass and lifted Sterling over Eaton by one point.
In the rivalry game against Brush, Sterling came out on top 41-13. Freshman Isaac Harris and junior A. Chavez each had one touchdown, and junior Austin Burkholder had four, giving the team 24 points total and putting him one touchdown off from breaking the school’s record of five TD’s in a game.
In the last regular season game against Platte Valley, the Tigers fell short to the Bronco’s 35-21. Junior’s Austin Burkholder, A. Chavez and M. Chavez each scored one TD.
The Tigers finished the regular season with a 7-2 record, awarding them the 5th seed in the 2A football playoffs.
“From the beginning to now, I think we just became a team and the chemistry finally came together with everyone,” said Mitchek.
The Tiger’s started their post season on a positive note in their first playoff game against Faith Christian. Sterling fell short in the first half 0-7, but came back in the third and fourth quarter to win it all. Senior Jake Busmente, Isaac Harris, and A. Chavez each had one TD and Austin Burkholder with two, putting the Tigers 35-7 in the end. This was the first playoff game the Tigers have won in eight years.
The win against Faith Christian sent the Sterling Tigers into the second round of playoffs against the La Junta Tigers. Sterling fell short to La Junta 13-34, bringing an end to their season.
“The team’s strengths include their overall character and resilience,” said Coach Aaron Edinger. “Their only weakness is starting slow in the first half, but that’s where the resilience ties in.
Coach Busmente agreed, adding that their mental toughness and growth as players improved throughout the season.
Overall, the team had an 8-3 record in their seasons, having the most wins in a season since 2007.
Photo taken by Sydney Goldenstein