LONGMONT — He stood on the sideline and watched. Colton Lehl wanted desperately to be on the field, running the ball and gaining yards to help the Skyline football team.
Instead, he watched as his little brother, Cade, handled those duties against Ranum on Sept. 16.
“Yeah, that was tough,” Colton said. “I always want the ball.”
Never mind that Colton had a banged-up ankle that night. He still wanted to be out there.
“It’s almost like sometimes they don’t want one to do better than the other, especially with (Colton),” Skyline coach Bob Knapton said. “That’s healthy, I think, to be that way.”
The sibling rivalry is nothing new to Skyline. This is the sixth year in a row that Skyline has had at least one Lehl in its backfield. But never before have they had such a contribution from a pair of the brothers.
Cody Lehl played for the Falcons from 2000-03. Colton is a senior this fall, and Cade is a junior, meaning he’ll carry the family tradition through for one more year.
“If we had all three of them, we’d put three of them back there,” Knapton said.
For now, two is just fine. Despite wanting to out-do each other, the Lehl brothers are working together to carry the Falcons running game this season.
Heading into Friday’s game against Greeley Central, Cade has rushed for 277 yards on 53 carries and scored four touchdowns. Colton has 228 yards and one touchdown on 44 carries. Both are averaging 5.2 yards per rush.
“You want to do better than he does,” Colton said. “You want to get more yards. It’s always been like that. It makes it fun, though.
“But, as long as we do good and win, too, and get the ball moving, it doesn’t matter (who gets the ball).”
The Lehls have been moving the ball for Skyline for so long, it’s hard to imagine a Falcons backfield without them.
“It’s just where we all started off,” Colton said of the three brothers all playing running back. “We’re not big enough to play line, so we play running back.”
It has made for some fun times for the Lehl family. For years, Colton played with Cody and the two had a chance to suit up together for the Falcons before Cody’s graduation. As Cade watched, he knew he’d have the same chance some day.
“I thought it was pretty cool (to watch Cody and Colton), and I couldn’t wait until it was me and Colton some day,” Cade said. “Now it’s here and I like it a lot. It doesn’t happen very often and it’s nice having that. I like it and it’s fun for us and our family.”
Making it even more fun is that nobody ever knows which Lehl will shine on a given game, or play.
“He usually gets all the long runs and I go in for the goal-line,” Cade said.
In a Week 1 loss to Mountain Vista, Colton led the team with 78 yards rushing, while Cade had just 16. Against Ranum in Week 3, Cade had 152 yards and Colton just 18. Three times, Colton has led the team in rushing. Cade led the team in the other game.
“They’re our 1-2 punch,” Knapton said. “They’re almost the same size, they both have the same speed. They are good, tough, hard runners.”
Knapton likes having the two brothers back there, because they give the Falcons such versatility and deception.
“They’re perfect back there, because you don’t have to really determine one is a fullback, one’s not a fullback,” Knapton said. “It’s great for us, because (opposing teams) can’t get a bead on us on which way we’re going.”
Led by the Lehls, Knapton hopes the Falcons are on the path to the playoffs. Although Skyline is just 1-3, all three of its losses have come against ranked teams (Mountain Vista, Ranum and Thompson Valley) with a combined record of 11-1. If the Falcons can take care of business down the stretch in 4A Northern Conference play, the playoffs are a possibility.
To get there, both brothers need to play well.
“They’re very key,” Knapton said. “We have some guys on our team that are very key, that cannot get hurt, and they are two of them.”
Cody and Colton never had a chance to play in the playoffs together. Colton would love to get that chance with Cade by his side.
“For us to both be able to go to the playoffs, that (would be) a great experience,” Colton said.
They know they have to step up their game a notch to get there, though.
“We’re not getting the yards we should be getting,” Colton said. “We really need to pick that up.”
Of course, Colton wants to pick it up a little more. He led the team in rushing in 2004, and said that in the final six games, “Hopefully I get more (yards than Cade).”
That’s just fine with Cade.
“I want him to do good since he’s a senior,” Cade said. “I’ll have my chance next year.”