Nov. 21, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Football - Mountain West - At Fort Collins, Colo.
Saturday: 5 p.m. (MT), Lobos at Colorado State - Hughes Stadium
On The Air: 770-AM KKOB--Lobo Radio Network; Root Sports (TV)
GoLobos.com: GameTracker, Game Story, Statistics
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The Lobos and their seniors talk about finishing the season out right and of course that includes going up to chilly Fort Collins, Colo., and leaving Saturday with a Mountain West victory over the Colorado State Rams.
You play this hard game for a number of reasons and winning is high on the list.
But whether or not the Lobos and their seniors leave Hughes Stadium as winners on the scoreboard doesn't really alter what they have done in 2012. They have helped bring hope to a downtrodden program through their wins, but also through their competitive effort.
They have taken bold and lasting steps to change a culture.
"We hope this senior class can change the attitude around here," said Lobo senior Matt Raymer.
And that has been done: By the Lobo seniors, by all Lobos, by Coach Bob Davie, by his staff. That change will continue.
But a scoreboard in Fort Collins - or anywhere -- will not change lessons of the heart. The Lobos might end careers and a season happier at 5-8 than at 4-9, but those numbers will not cheapen what the Lobos have gained.
For sure, the 23 seniors who end their careers as Lobos have been through tough and challenging years. The Lobos have nine seniors who came to UNM to play for Rocky Long in 2008. Those seniors have played for three head coaches, four different offensive coordinators and five defensive coordinators.
On the field, the New Mexico seniors have lost more than they have won. But they take with them lessons of the heart that sometimes are fused stronger by adversity.
"For those seniors who have been through an unbelievable journey, they are finishing this thing up right," said Coach Davie. "I don't worry about this football team caving in. That is not going to happen.
"I am never going to quit on them and I know they're never going to quit on me."
The Lobos go to CSU looking to end a distasteful skid. They have lost five straight. If that streak expands to six, they will end the season on a loss and also with no more MW victories than they earned in the previous three seasons.
The Lobos don't want to end 2012 with a loss, but CSU will not roll over. The 3-8 Rams also are capable. They beat by 22 points the UNLV team that beat the Lobos by 28 points.
"It (a win) means a lot to us seniors," said Raymer.
Probably, it means a lot to the CSU seniors, too. That's why, in some ways, the winning and losing part is overrated when it comes to what athletic competition can grow inside a kid, forming bonds that often last forever.
"As a player, you want to win," said senior tight end, Lucas Reed. "That's always what drives you. You want it for yourself, but you want it for your teammates even more; the guys who stand beside you every day."
The Lobo senior class consists of Lamaar Thomas, Destry Berry, B.R. Holbrook, DeShawn Mills, Freddy Young, Matt Raymer, A.J. Butler, Chris Biren, Joe Stoner, Joseph Harris, Ugo Uzodinma Rod Davis, Mark Hunter, Evan Jacobsen, Brad Maestas, Jake Carr, Korian Chambers, Ty Kirk, Quintell Solomon, Reggie Ellis, Greg Rivara, Julian Lewis and Lucas Reed.
The Band of Brothers analogy is often used in sports, in football. The analogy works because this game of inches is fought and shared by young men who fight through a myriad of emotions and often do it while battling pain and injury. Football is not an easy game.
B.R. Holbrook, UNM's senior quarterback, is expected to play Saturday vs. CSU. He is coming off a shoulder separation and might be better off ending his career on the bench. Holbrook does not want the safety of the bench.
Ty Kirk, UNM's senior receiver said, "I'd rather go out there and block all day and get a win, than get 100 yards receiving and lose." Kirk has caught 10 passes on the year. The country if full of receivers who catch 10 passes in a game. Kirk says he plans to finish the season giving "110 percent. These are still my teammates, and the season is not over."
Kirk's attitude is part of the change in Lobo football. The "me" attitude and the different levels of accountability have been shown the door. The Band of Brothers mentality has returned.
"I've been with these seniors for four years, a lot of them are fifth-year seniors, and they're like my brothers," said junior linebacker Dallas Bollema.
"We're just going to go out and finish this season how it needs to be finished. We're playing for them and they're playing for us. We're going to make the best of it and enjoy the team we have left for the rest of the season."
The rocky path these Lobos walked probably wasn't what the seniors envisioned when they came to UNM. Players dream of league championships and bowl games. There will be no championship rings on any of these Lobos' fingers.
Maybe the most important thing you can ask of any person or athlete is for that individual to go out and give his best. The honest effort by the senior class of 2012 has been noted by Davie and should be remembered by all Lobo fans. They are Lobos for life because they learned so much about life by being Lobos.
They will leave New Mexico and their teammates with inner fibers of strength and character that will radiate long after the scoreboards have dimmed. They will carry those things into life's future challenges.
But first they will carry them into Fort Collins.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former award-winning Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at email@example.com.