Howell: Frederick Warriors finally building winning tradition

Joshua Buck/Times-Call
Frederick gathers before their game with Silver Creek at Everly-Montgomery Field on Sept. 8. The Warriors will host Windsor on Friday night with the Class 3A Tri-Valley League title on the line.

Frederick’s football team doesn’t have a long history of playing in big games.

There haven’t been many postseason appearances in the Warriors’ history, and their tradition is mostly filled with losing seasons.

Perhaps more than any other group in school history, however, the 2011 Warriors know how to win and they relish the opportunity to play in a big game.

On Friday night the Warriors will play one of the biggest games in their history. Frederick (7-2, 4-0 in the 3A Tri-Valley League) will host sixth-ranked Windsor (8-1, 4-0) in a game that will decide the TVL title.

“We’re going to have to play our A-plus game to get it done,” Warriors coach Thad Lear said. “We’ve been playing probably B-plus games the last few weeks at times. We’re going to have to step it up.”

Lear has confidence that his squad can do just that. There was a time not long ago that doubts would have crept in. A 28-14 loss to Roosevelt on Oct. 1, 2010, dropped the Warriors to 1-4. They were surely headed for their third consecutive losing season.

They turned it around in a hurry, though, winning their last five games to get into the playoffs for just the third time ever. Then they won a playoff game for the first time in school history.

Currently, the Warriors are on a 13-month run in which they’ve gone 13-3, including 9-0 in league play. Nobody in the TVL has been able to score more than seven points against the Warriors during that time.

Suddenly, the Warriors are the team to beat. Last year was the first league championship in program history, so this is the first season in which Frederick has had to defend a title.

“It’s definitely uncharted territory for this school, but it’s been fun and the kids have done a great job,” Lear said.

Simply having a shot at the league title hasn’t come around often. In fact, according to Times-Call archives, this is just the seventh winning season in school history — and the first time since 1988-89 that the Warriors have posted back-to-back winning seasons. They have never been to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

Just to add more history to the game, unless they get to host a postseason game, this would be the last football game on Tesone Field. Frederick opens a brand-new school next fall.

“Fourteen years of my life has been out here on Friday nights,” said Lear, who has been the Warriors’ head coach since 1998. “This is special place. Tesone Field has been home for a long time.”

All the historical notes make this a special game in Warriors history. But, in reality, the Warriors can’t afford to pay attention to history this week.

As well as they’ve played, the Warriors could be in danger of missing the playoffs if they lose to Windsor. Frederick sits 12th in the 3A wild-card standings. With 16 teams advancing, a loss could drop the Warriors out of the playoff picture.

“That’s what we talked about all year is getting back to the playoffs and playing Windsor to get in,” said Lear, whose team beat Windsor in a similar situation last year. “We’re not sure about the playoffs, but if we take care of business (against Winsor), that can assure us of that spot.

“We are excited to be playing and having a chance to get to the playoffs and win a conference championship. It was a great experience last year just to be there.”

Ranked sixth in the wild-card standings, Windsor doesn’t have to worry about making the playoffs. The Wizards won’t be looking past this one, though. Silver Creek is the only team to beat the Wizards, and in league play they have outscored opponents 181-26.

Leading a team that — finally — knows how to win, however, has Lear eager for the challenge.

“They’re an excellent football team, but I think we’re a pretty good football team, too,” he said.

NOTES: According to Times-Call records, Frederick has never won eight games in a season. They won seven in 1988, 1992, 2006 and 2010. … Four Niwot gymnasts are headed to the state meet this weekend: senior Ariel Mosier, sophomore Allie Koldeway and freshmen Gabby Casey and Lexie Frank. … Twin Peaks Charter Academy recently hired Robert Donaldson as its head boys basketball coach.

Brian Howell can be reached at bhowell@times-call.com.