A salute to service: Summit Football to honor Flight for Life’s Repsher, local service members Friday night
Friday night under the lights at Tiger Stadium, the Summit High School football program and head coach John Shirkey will formally say thank you to the Summit County community and its service members.
For the second straight year, Shirkey has spearheaded the football program’s “Salute to Service” night. In Shirkey’s third season as head coach, this is the closest thing to a tradition he’s brought to the Tigers football program, as members of any and all local law enforcement, first responders and emergency personnel are welcome to attend.
“Everybody’s welcome,” Shirkey said. “They all get into the game free. We give them a meal and recognize them before the game.”
At the first Salute to Service night last autumn, Shirkey estimated about a dozen local service vehicles — such as fire trucks and police cruisers — surrounded the Summit High School track around the football field. Flight For Life Colorado also helicoptered in, landing on the south end of the stadium field before hand-delivering the official game football to referees.
Shirkey brought this new tradition to the football program, he says, because military and service members mean so much to him. The youngest of three brothers, Shirkey’s oldest brother, who has previously served in South Korea, Iraq and other countries around the world, is a chaplain in the U.S. Army currently stationed in Oklahoma. Shirkey’s middle brother has worked in law enforcement dispatch for several years in the Chicago area.
“I think they don’t get enough recognition and thank-you’s most of the time,” Shirkey said of service members. “It’s real close to my heart. The stuff they deal with, I have a soft spot in my heart and we talk about in our program — football is about serving, being willing to serve others. It’s about taking a leadership role as a servant leader.
“At that level,” the coach continued, “trying to save people’s lives, defending people’s lives, keeping people safe — that’s different than playing a football game Friday night. But the concept is the same — you need everybody around you. And you have to be willing to give up yourself for the benefit of others.”
Last season, a Korean War veteran and the grandfather of former Summit Tigers football player Max Hess served as honorary Summit captain for the Salute to Service game. This year, the Tigers will honor Flight For Life nurse Dave Repsher as honorary captain.
Repsher is a former flight nurse who was seriously injured and suffered burns on 90 percent of his body in a July 3, 2015, helicopter crash in Frisco. The wreck helped compel the industry to improve helicopter safety.
With the Tigers’ kickoff versus Eagle Valley scheduled for 7 p.m., fans are encouraged to arrive by 6:30 p.m. to witness the Salute to Service festivities. The helicopter flight will be weather dependent and could get called away in the event of an emergency elsewhere.
As for the tilt versus Eagle Valley (2-4, 0-1 3A Western Slope League), the Tigers (1-5, 0-1) are looking to bounce back from a rain-soaked 26-14 loss last Friday night at Battle Mountain. Summit was without its stud sophomore running back Noah Martens on Friday, and hopes to have him back in the fold come Friday. With his return uncertain, Martens’ nagging injury is just one of several Summit has had to battle through this year. The injuries have forced Summit to stray from its ideal run-heavy playcalling at times, including last week when Marten’s absence forced the Tigers to utilize speedy senior receiver Max Duxbury more out of the backfield.
“We’ve had quite a few injuries,” Shirkey said. “Cam Kalaf has kind of been a consistent player for us in terms of the run game, he’s banged up a little bit too. It’s kind of just been a little bit of a revolving door.”
On Friday night the Summit High School cross-country running team finished in 11th place in the boys race and 18th place in the girls race at the Pat Amato Classic in Northglenn.
It was the program’s first time competing at the Pat Amato, a larger meet — the team’s largest of the season, actually — with 37 boys squads and 31 girls squads all toeing the line at the same time in their respective races.
Just prior to the boys varsity start, a squall rolled in with high winds, dark skies and wind gusts that slowed the runners down a touch. But Summit head coach Heather Quarantillo said the mostly flat course still allowed the runners to speed along.
Atop a racing surface mixed with longer-cut grass, paved roadway and dirt path, junior Jeremiah Vaille led the way for the Tigers boys team, finishing in 27th place in the 263-runner event with a time of 17 minutes and 1.17 seconds. Vaille was trailed by fellow Tiger teammates in junior Max Bonenberger (51st place, 17:32.23), sophomore Sam Burke (60th, 17:45.05) and junior Sam Wescott (64th, 17:46.08).
In the 228-runner girls race, Summit was once again led by junior Grace Staberg (58th, 20:15.7), sophomore Alice Wescott (67th, 20:42.92) and senior Morrison Donovan (70th, 20:52.41).
The Tigers will next run on Thursday at 4 p.m. at Rifle High School’s meet at the Rifle Golf Course.
The Summit Tigers enter Thursday’s 6 p.m. road contest at Eagle Valley with an overall record of 4-7-1 on the season and a 4A Western Slope League mark of 3-5-1.
The Tigers return to the road Thursday after dropping their last home contest, on Tuesday, by the score of 2-0 to Glenwood Springs. The home loss followed a road victory at Palisade on Saturday, during which the Tigers found the back of the net five times in the second half.
The Tigers next play at home on Tuesday at 6 p.m. versus Glenwood.
The Summit Tigers snapped a five-game losing streak on Tuesday night with their 3-0 victory at home versus Vail Christian.
The Tigers improved their record to 4-10 on the season with the 25-19, 25-18 and 25-17 3-set sweep. Summit will next play on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at home versus Glenwood.
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