Air Force Colorado Football 2019

Falcons tight end Kade Waguespack takes down Colorado quarterback Steven Montez during a Sept. 14, 2019, game in Boulder. The Falcons won in overtime 30-23.

Trey Taylor is blessed with Hollywood good looks and an economics major at the Air Force Academy that proves he’s more than just a pretty face. This cadet’s going places.

But here’s something you didn’t know about the native Texan: From 6 years old on, Taylor, an Air Force safety, and Brendon Lewis, a CU Buffs quarterback, were Little League teammates on the North Dallas baseball diamonds of their youth. Their families remain tight, as Texans do.

“I kind of know a little bit about him,” Taylor said with a sneaky smile on Tuesday. “I’m going to bring that to the field on Saturday.”

Oh, boy. As if Air Force needed another edge when the CU Buffs travel to Falcon Stadium for the first time in almost 50 years. Add “personal insight” to the list of Falcons advantages.

“He has good tendencies to pick up on,” Taylor said.

Well, maybe Buffs coach Karl Dorrell will opt for quarterback J.T. Shrout in place of Lewis. Just a suggestion. Today, we are here to help the little brothers from CU Boulder mount a stand against the big, bad bullies from Air Force. Roll with the element of surprise, Coach Dorrell. The Buffs must find any advantage they can get.

Almost everything about this grudge match screams “Fly, Falcons, fly!”: better team, better coach, better culture, even the better uniforms when Air Force sticks with the traditional threads. Toss out the Pac-12 and Mountain West tags that won’t play a snap. The Falcons are so much better than the Buffs that oddsmakers tabbed them as 17-point favorites, a number that’s hard to believe for anyone who saw Darian Hagan pitch to J.J. Flannigan for another 20-, 30, or 60-yard gain down a Folsom Field sideline.

“How many of those guys (from the glory-days Buffs) were offensive linemen that played in the National Football League? It’s extraordinary, really,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun told The Denver Gazette. “Go from about ’89-'94 — about a five- or six-year stretch. They had phenomenal backs. And slots, whether it was Flannigan or Bienemy or Pritchard or Salaam. They had some not-good players, but great players. And they had really, really good quarterbacks — between Hagan and Kordell Stewart. Those guys were about as good as you’d see in college football."

Those Buffs were one-name guys.

Right, but we’re here to help these Buffs. That’s why I went to the academy Tuesday. I heard it’s helpful to take notes in college, so I went to take notes for the Buffs. How does a service academy produce winner after winner, while CU struggles to one winning record since 2005? Plus, you already know Air Force is good again.

“Honestly, I think we have a defense that we haven’t had in a long time,” Taylor said.

The secret sauce at the academy, according to a couple upperclassmen: trust and continuity, and I guess you could say one comes from the other.

“I know that when I’m playing, I don’t have to worry about the people in the backfield doing the right thing,” offensive lineman Isaac Cochran said. “If I pull, I don’t have to worry if Brad (Roberts, the star running back) hits the right hole.”

That whole pass-it-on legacy thing is built over time. Take Taylor, a straight-up stud in the secondary, whose recruiting process concerned Ivy League schools and a couple of Power Fives.

“But they weren’t (offering) what I thought the Air Force could provide for me,” Taylor said.

His Air Force football education began with some hard lessons from former Falcons like Geraud Sanders, Tre Bugg and Jordan Jackson. Where’s that kind of continuity on the CU Buffs' side?

“The people that came in this year — we, as a unit, took them in and displayed to them how things are supposed to be done,” Taylor said.

When it comes to comparing the current status of Air Force and CU, I’ll put it this way: I can see a path someday for the Falcons to the 12-team playoff that starts in 2026. It’s a crazy path, like driving Lefthand Canyon at night, but there is a path. Can anyone see the same for the Buffs?

The CU matchup is personal for long-ago Air Force alums, who didn’t forget how Boulder students pelted staffers from Air Force with eggs in protest of the Vietnam War in 1973. The series was put on hold for 45 years, until Air Force beat CU 30-23 at Folsom in 2019.

Now it’s personal for reasons that are a lot more fun, like state bragging rights and young men who grew up together as tiny ballplayers.

“We had a super-powerhouse (Little League team),” said Taylor, who noted Oklahoma wide receiver Theo Wease was another teammate.

Sheesh. Were you guys recruiting 8-year-olds?

"We just knew a lot of people around the area," Taylor said.

His parents still display all their Little League trophies in his bedroom back in the Dallas area.

Taylor has postgame plans for Saturday, too. He wants a photo with Lewis, his childhood bud.

“But it will be me smiling,” Taylor said.

The Falcons are going places, and wouldn’t it be nice to one day say the same for the Buffs?

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at paul.klee@gazette.com or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

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