In football, more than any other sport, a head coach needs a strong staff. Once Aaron Finch was hired as the new Steamboat Springs coach in April, he set out to find assistants who shared his beliefs as he embarked on his first season with the Sailors.
"My goal was to get a group of positive men that cared about the kids first and their coaching careers second," Finch said.
Through summer camps and clinics and the opening weeks of practice, the seven assistants Finch helped put in place seem to be enjoying themselves, the Steamboat players and working alongside the head coach.
"(Finch) has hired a bunch of guys that seem to mesh well," said Mike Powell, the junior varsity coach. "It has been a great experience so far."
The staff of eight is a mixture of men with a wealth of football experience and men with little to no previous football coaching experience, but each seemingly has been assigned to coach the correct group of players, beginning with Finch.
The former Colorado State lineman was hired at the end of March, replacing longtime coach Mark Drake. Finch was an assistant under Drake and served as the JV coach in 2003. Finch grew up in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and has a master's in business administration from Stanford University.
This is his first year as varsity head coach, but he understands
the game, has a great relationship with the players, and is obviously a great manager with his business background.
"He allocates responsibility well," Powell said.
Mike Appel was the only other assistant retained from last year's staff who helped guide the Sailors to an 11-2 record and state semifinal appearance. Appel, a former Steamboat player, is in his fifth year as a Steamboat assistant and is working with the varsity defensive backs, receivers and special teams. He played college ball at Western State College.
Lonn Clementson is a former Sailors player and coach. He played collegiately at Colorado College. He previously was an assistant coach for the Sailors for three years and also coached at Mesa State College for two seasons. He did not coach last year. He will serve as the Sailors' defensive coordinator.
Steve Deline also is a former CSU player. A talented kicker with the Rams from 1984 to 1986, Deline is working with Steamboat's kickers this season, his first as a Sailors assistant.
Many Steamboat residents may recognize the name Jerry Stabile. The former Steamboat Springs police officer is back in town, back in the force and back on the football sidelines. He is a volunteer assistant this season, and as the former resources officer at the high school, Stabile has a great rapport with the student athletes.
Before leaving Steamboat several years ago, Stabile was on the JV staff for five years, including one as head coach. He will work with the varsity running backs and inside linebackers this season.
"As a police officer, seeing them on the field breaks down the barriers," Stabile said. "I'm flattered to have the opportunity to return."
The three JV coaches -- Powell, Sean McCarthy and Pete Perry -- also will work at the varsity level, but their primary responsibilities will be preparing the underclassmen for the future.
"I'm really psyched about our JV staff," Finch said.
Powell returns to the Steamboat program after serving as a varsity assistant in Hayden last year. He played and coached at Cortland State in New York before moving to Steamboat. He was the eighth-grade coach in 2002, working with many of this year's sophomores. In addition to running the JV program, Powell works with the varsity quarterbacks.
McCarthy and Perry are in their first seasons as football coaches. Perry has coached hockey, while McCarthy is a middle school wrestling coach. Perry is a former University of Colorado star defensive end. CU and CSU did not play each other while Perry and Finch were in school.
Perry, Finch and Deline all made it to the NFL, though no one played a significant amount of time. Perry is working with the defensive line this year.
"He's great with kids and becoming better every day," Finch said.
McCarthy grew up in Massachusetts and brings an unequaled level of enthusiasm to this year's team, Powell said. He is working with the linebackers and running backs in his first season.
Senior linebacker and tight end Charlie Pappas said there were some concern as to what might happen this season with all the new coaches, but those doubts are gone.
"We've all known Coach Finch for so long, and we're happy to have him as our coach," Pappas said. "The coaches have all been putting in the hours, more than us. We have scouting reports for deep in the season."
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org