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There is no I or, in this instance, no finger in “team.” As you’ve heard by now, Trevor Wikre, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound offensive right guard for the Mesa State College Mavericks, snagged his little finger in a teammate’s jersey during practice last week. His finger broke into two parts, one dangling. The dangling part housing the lower pinkie bone was ripped open, thus allowing lower pinkie bone to break free and say hello to the big, wide world.

A trip to the Grand Junction Community Hospital ensued. The doc told Wikre he needed surgery and six months’ pinkie convalescence. Unacceptable, Wikre said, and ordered the caregiver to amputate his finger.

Afterward, Wikre explained his decision: “I’m just short one. But this game means that much to me. This team means that much to me.” One wonders, what is this magical Mesa State College football team, this emerald isle of sport that calls on its sons to sacrifice body parts?

We can begin in the squalid little town where Wikre was raised. Wikre hails from Berthoud, Colorado, a town of 4800 known for Berthoud Day, Berthoud Park, Berthoud Outdoor Quilt Show, Berthoud Dance Company, and, especially, Berthoud High School.

According to a March 2004 story posted on scouts.com, “Trevor Wikre is a player that had slipped under the radar as far as recruiting services go until a couple weeks ago. He was a first team all-conference and honorable mention all-state selection as a junior. Trevor was at CU’s [University of Colorado] Junior Day and plans to be back for the Buffs’ summer camp. Colorado is currently one of his top two schools.”

“Michigan Getting Serious About Wikre.” The story lists eight big-name schools (Colorado, Colorado State, Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, Kansas State, and Michigan). There is a column marked “Interest Level” next to the school names. Wikre had two “highs” and six “mediums” checked in that column. Still, in the end, no one offered him a scholarship.

It’s a long, long way downhill from Michigan to Division II. Mesa College tells visitors it is “Located in the beautiful high-desert country of western Colorado, the surrounding area provides unmatched year-round outdoor recreational opportunities…. With an area population exceeding 116,000, enjoy the amenities of a big city without the hassles of heavy traffic, crime, or crowded airports.” (Surrounding area is just a couple thousand residents shy of that other Midwest academic magnet, Olathe, Kansas.)

Mesa State College was founded in 1925. The college offers a timeline on its website:

  1. Depression strikes. Football canceled for lack of funds. Best Picture: All Quiet on the Western Front.

  2. Enrollment at 218 and 41 graduates.

  3. College budget $13,000. Football team out of funds — all Grand Junction stores close to boost game-ticket sales.

  4. Mesa State enrollment tops 5555.

Wikre is a team guy, a four-year starter, and was an all–Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference player last season. (RMAC football currently counts ten colleges.) Wikre was forced — by wrongheaded medical advisers and their lawyers — to sit out Saturday’s game. Head coach Joe Ramunno said, “The team was very inspired by Trevor. He talked to the team in the locker room before the game. He told them he’s with them in spirit.”

The Mavericks stand at 4-2 (4-0 in the RMAC) after a 27-24 come-from-behind victory over the despised Colorado School of Mines Orediggers. Wikre stood on the sidelines cheering his teammates. “I told them all before the Western New Mexico game that I would have no problem taking a bullet for any of these guys. I love ’em that much. This is my bullet.”

There’s good news and bad news attached to this story. The good news is that the Mavericks are undefeated in conference play. Bad news: the Mavericks go up against Colorado State University-Pueblo’s ThunderWolves on Saturday. The ThunderWolves are an upset-minded, dangerous team with hot cheerleaders. Which is why Wikre will play. Yes, old number 53 will answer the Mavericks’ call one more time.

But wait, there’s more. YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE GAME LIVE AND FOR FREE! Special arrangements have been made for you, Sporting Box readers, so you’ll be able to enjoy college football at its most exciting. Remember, Saturday is a home game, so you’ll be able to take in all the pomp and urbanity Western Colorado can dish out.

And so, this Saturday at 6:00 p.m. hie thee to your favorite computer and click over to mesamavs.com. Pop a beer and be prepared to be amazed.

Can’t get enough, can you? All right, the October 16 game against Western State will be televised on CBSC (CBS College Sports). The October 25 game against Adams State will be televised on b2tv.com. Rock on.

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