LAKEWOOD – The outcome was an inevitable loss, and the season was a minute away from being over for the Cheyenne Mountain Indians (11-6) in the Class 4A state quarterfinals at a wind-blown Trailblazer Stadium.
But that didn’t stop senior captains Sam Sheridan and Casey Rothstein from encouraging the Indians’ younger players to finish the game the right way.
“Finish it like men,” Sheridan yelled, fiercely enough to be considered a deleted scene from the movie “300.”
That passion, and that leadership, is how you build something bigger than a season’s success, said Indians coach Mike Paige on Friday.
“That’s the kind of leadership that has helped get us to this point as a program,” said Paige, who took over the slumping program four years ago. “This is why we got to two quarterfinals in the last two years. It’s that kind of leadership and accountability.”
Sheridan’s and Rothstein’s four years with the program expired at the conclusion of Cheyenne Mountain’s 10-5 loss to the soon-to-be 5A power Wheat Ridge Farmers (14-4).
Sheridan and Rothstein combined for nearly half of their team’s goals and assists this season, leading the Indians to their second consecutive Class 4A quarterfinals appearance.
Sheridan finished the year with 44 goals and 17 assists, and Rothstein had 36 goals and 24 assists.
“We were seen as just a bunch of reckless boys our freshmen year,” Rothstein said, looking back on his career. “How far this program has come, and how tight this team has become under Coach Paige is unreal. I loved every second of it.”
Next year, the two friends will be separated for the first time in four years. Sheridan will head to play at Colorado College while Rothstein will play at the Air Force Academy.
And just like they say in the NFL Draft, “good character” was one of the primary reasons the two Indians were thought so highly of in the scouting process.
They will face one another when Colorado College and Air Force play in a nonconference match.
“It’s going to be really strange going against Casey,” said Sheridan, who finished his career in style as he leaped head first in front of the net to score in the third quarter against the Farmers. “It’ll be a lot of fun though.”
At Cheyenne Mountain, meanwhile, Paige said the program will lose 12 seniors, but he expects his team to compete in the state playoffs all the same.
“We are going into our fifth year and I expect things to keep building for us,” Paige said. “A lot of players and a lot of our seniors have made our success possible. It was a privilege to coach all of them.”
Brent W. New Gazette