Despite loss, players look back on formative experience

Brandon Warr

Times Staff Writer

GHS Football — There is nothing like ending one’s senior season on a positive note — especially after a roll- er coaster ride over the last four years.

Seniors Pascual Lerma and Nicolas Bifano did just that this season, help- ing to turn around the Gunnison High School (GHS) football program in their fourth and final year as members of the team. The Cowboys finished the season Monday with a 7-2 overall record after losing to Montrose High School 20-14. 

“Being a Cowboy the past four years has been a great experience,” said Lerma. “Playing under the lights was what I dreamt of as a kid.”

While Lerma and Bifano didn’t get the opportunity to finish their high school careers playing under “Friday Night Lights,” they both still enjoyed the opportunity to be members of the GHS football team.

“Playing football for this school was amazing,” said Bifano. “Each year was a unique experience that I’ll never be able to recreate. My favorite moment was my first big tackle in the Homecoming game my sophomore year on kick o and hearing the crowd erupt with cheer.”

Lerma shares the same sentiment of playing under the “Friday Night Lights” his freshman and sophomore years and hearing the crowd cheer the Gunnison Cowboys on. However, his favorite moment happened this year — against Centauri High School on Monday, Oct. 28.

“Nothing beats me getting a pick six and taking it back to the end zone for 56 yards,” said Lerma.

On to the next chapter

Despite school being far from over, both Lerma and Bifano know what they want to do once graduating from GHS. Lerma plans to go to the military upon graduation and further his education in criminal justice.

While Bifano’s plan is to get an engi- neering degree at a college in Colorado, he would love to have the opportuni- ty to keep playing football at the next level.

“Even if I only started playing foot- ball in high school, it will always be a big impact on my life,” said Bifano. “It has honestly helped me grow up in many ways that I would have never experienced without it.”

Lerma and Bifano will have a break before representing the Cowboys again this year — this time on the basketball court. The GHS boys basketball team will have their first official practice on Monday, Nov. 18. 

Cowboys forever

The Cowboys also will say goodbye to Bryce Vincent, Jojo Cerio, Keegan Ragle, Elijah Waters and Linus Dollan for next season.

Vincent played running back and linebacker for the Cowboys over the last two years and served a huge role in GHS’ offense, recording more than 300 yards rushing and six touchdowns.

“It was an amazing experience to be a part of the Gunnison Cowboys foot- ball team,” said Vincent. “I’m grateful for the two years because it shaped who I am today.”

Cerio could be found on the offensive and defensive line in the last two years.

“It has been a blessing to be a Gunnison Cowboy and I’m going to miss the team and the people I’ve made connections with,” he said.

Ragle transitioned from Lake City two years ago and has been a huge part of the offensive line and in the mid- dle of the defensive line at tackle.

“I wouldn’t have traded this opportunity for anything,” said Ragle. “I made a new fam- ily and found new friends that will last a lifetime.”

Last and certainly not least, Waters joined the program this year after being recruited by classmates. In his short stint on the team and after dealing with injuries, Waters record- ed 45 yards rushing, 41 yards passing, 14 kick off yards and one touchdown.

Additionally, after this year Dollan — who is an exchange student — will be moving back to Germany to finish school. Dollan played wide receiv- er and defensive line for the Cowboys.

“I always wanted to play football and finally got the opportunity to do that,” said Dollan. “The one season in Gunnison was awesome, and I will never forget the team.”

Next season, the Cowboys will go back to being a varsity team and will drop down to the 1A Western Slope Division.

“I am very excited to see this program proceed to grow and see their success in the future,” said Lerma. “Go Cowboys!” 

 

 

(Brandon Warr can be reached at 970.641.1414 or brandon@gunnisontimes.com.)