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Excitement builds in Colfax community for championship game

By: Mike Ray
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Over the years, talking to old timers in the Colfax area, three distinctive moments always seemed to come up when someone asked the question what’s the biggest thing to ever happen in Colfax.

Given the nickname “Above the Fog and Below the Snow,” Colfax, nestled along

Interstate 80 hasn’t changed too much since the Olympic Torch passed through on its way to Squaw Valley for the 1960 Winter Games.

But looking back, the little town has indeed had its moments in the sun.

In November of 1932, President Herbert Hoover, on his way to his home in Palo Alto to vote in the presidential election, stopped in Colfax for five minutes and from a rail car addressed a crowd of 1,500.

Another big moment for the community came in 1959 on Ben Taylor Road when Colfax High School opened its doors to students for the first time.

In 1983 and again in ’84, the Colfax High girls basketball team went “big time” and brought home back-to-back CIF state championships. Yes, they were good.

Finally, the area’s last big event, that many swear by, and in no way is a direct reflection to any politician that has visited Colfax, was when Ronald McDonald came to town in 2002 to help open the new McDonald’s restaurant at the I-80 westbound on- and off–ramps.

Regardless, all of those “big events” may have to take a backseat to Saturday’s CIF Div. 5-A State Championship football game set at 6 p.m. for Colfax High when the hometown Falcons play host to San Diego High School.

First, if the game is not moved by CIF officials to a neutral venue in the middle of the week because of wet weather field concerns, the contest will mark the first time in CIF history that a state championship event has ever been hosted in Placer County.

Now, really, think about it, that’s not half bad for the tiny foothills hamlet that still survives without a traffic signal.

For Colfax High principal Paul Lunberg, his job now is a tough one. This week his chore is to keep his students focused through finals with one of the school’s biggest athletic moments waiting in the wings.

“The campus has been buzzing with excitement,” said Lundberg. “For the team to get this far and then have a chance to host the state game is a once in a lifetime event.”

Meanwhile, the Falcons’ football team is turning into rock stars.

Earlier last week, the City of Colfax’s digital electronic sign that sits alongside I-80 acknowledged the Falcons’ 13-0 championship season and wished the team good luck.

On Saturday, the team hopped on a Lorang Brothers truck and trailer and were the hit of the Colfax Winterfest Lights Parade.

On the football side of things, Colfax football coach Tony Martello has had the task of keeping his players’ heads out of the clouds and concentrating on football.

“There’s a lot of distractions that come with games like this but we have a pretty good senior group that’s keeping the team focused,” said Martello. “It’s a once in a lifetime thing for the team, the school and the community and we’re happy to be part of it.”

The CIF Div. 5-A Championship Game is set to take place at 6 p.m. Dec. 15 at Colfax High School. Colfax is 13-0 and San Diego is 11-2. Tickets are $12 adults, $8 seniors, students and can be bought pre-sale at gofan.co/app/school/CIFSJS.