Saturday, November 26, 2016

Forward Goes The Buffalo

Tonight, under the lights at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado, Sefo Liafau shall lead his Colorado Buffaloes teammates out onto their home turf one last time.  He is a senior.  Other than when injuries (such as the lisfranc fracture that brought about a premature end to his junior season) have kept him out of the lineup, he has been his team's quarterback since the fifth game of his freshman year, when Coach Mac inserted him into the maelstrom that was a 54-13 annihilation at the hands of the Arizona State Sun Devils.  From that point forward, things did not improve substantially for the remainder of the 2013 season, which ended with the Buffs finishing 4-8.  

The 2014 season was another lost fall in the Flatirons.  The Buffaloes lost ten of their twelve games, including the final eight.  And last season, they finished 4-9...dropping their final five games.  

At the conclusion of the 2015 season, as they had done at conclusion of each of the preceding seasons, Liafau's teammates - including those who had arrived in Boulder with him as freshman in 2013 and who had endured back-to-back-to-back brutal seasons - started their preparation for 2016.  They did so without their captain and their quarterback.  Sefo spent his spring semester rehabbing from the surgery to repair the lisfranc fracture.  It was unclear whether he would be ready to play when the Buffs played their opener vs. Colorado State in Denver on Labor Day weekend. 

He was.  He played beautifully, throwing for over three hundred yards as the Buffs broke out on top of the Rams 31-0 at halftime in route to a 44-7 demolition of their principal in-state rival.  This year, unlike years past, a season that started with promise has continued along that same trajectory.  Tonight, against Utah, the Buffaloes are playing their twelfth game.  Through eleven games, they have nine victories.  A victory tonight would earn them a berth in the Pac-12 Conference Championship Game next week and a win there would likely earn them the right to play in the Rose Bowl.  

As an alumni who is rapidly approaching the thirtieth anniversary of my graduation from CU, I can say without a second's hesitation that I have been proud of Sefo Liafau, his senior teammates, and the coaches for whom they have played, including but not limited to Coach Mac II, since the time of their arrival in Boulder four years ago.  It is an impossibly easy group for whom to cheer.  They have always represented CU well - even when the results on the field were less than sterling.  And they have never given up.  Not on themselves.  Not on each other.  Not on the task at hand.  From three-quarters of a continent away, I have rooted as hard as ever for them this season and I have reveled in their success.  It has been well-earned. 

Whether tonight, in their final appearance on their home field, and in front of what will undoubtedly be the largest crowd before whom they have ever played as Colorado Buffaloes, Sefo Liafau and his fellow seniors (there are twenty-three seniors on the Buffs roster this year) will be sent off with a win I cannot pretend to know.  I know that if they do prevail tonight, it will be because on this occasion - as it has been on each and every occasion during the course of their careers at the University of Colorado - they have refused to give up, they have refused to give in, and they have refused to quit.  

Admirable qualities in any person, whether a college football player or not, and the qualities that shall serve one well in life - even long after the cheering has stopped and the fans in the stands have turned their attention elsewhere. 

Good luck to them this evening and on all of the evenings that shall follow it.  


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