It might be July, but it's never too early to start talking football. And for 13 players expected to serve in starting or key reserve roles for the Steamboat Springs football team this fall, it's never too early to start playing, either.
Eight seniors and five juniors, along with several Sailors coaches, went to the King of the Mountain Tournament that featured a 7-on-7 team challenge as well as a lineman challenge.
Steamboat went 3-0 in pool play, defeating defending 5A state champion Ponderosa, 28-26. In the first round of single-elimination championship play, Steamboat lost to Denver West, 35-26, in Highlands Ranch.
Last year's team would up with the same results -- three pool wins and a first-round exit in championship round play.
"We maybe did a little better this year because we played better competition," senior lineman Chris Baumann said.
Of course, preseason tournament results don't count in the regular season play, but last year's team found itself believing the potential was there to have a special season based on its results at the King of the Mountain Tournment.
The Sailors went on to finish 11-2 and make the state semifinals, but this year's players, particularly the seniors, are ready to make their own statement.
"We've forgot about last year," senior lineman Wayne Buelter said. "But we'll build off it."
And if appears as if Steamboat will be fine if the linemen have anything to say about it. Baumann and Buelter won't be two of the more talkative players off the field this season, but expect their actions on the field to speak volumes.
The pair of 225-pound linemen won the tournament's linemen challenge that required the players to demonstrate their agility, speed, strength and power. Baumann and Buelter were two of the smaller linemen at the camp.
"I asked to do it because I saw it last year," Baumann said.
Baumann won the bench-press contest, lifting 185 pounds 21 times. Buelter finished third, lifting 185 pounds 17 times. The pair also had success in agility and speed drills, said first-year Steamboat coach Aaron Finch, a former lineman.
"They were the only guys shaped like athletes," he said.
The pair picked up a traveling trophy for their efforts.
The 13 players who took part in the 7-on-7 tournament were: seniors Baumann, Buelter Trace Adams, Brad Bonner, Daniel Coloccia, Tyler Fosdick, Clay McKenzie and Charlie Pappas. Juniors Vince Grippa, Josh Lorimer, Jack Serhant, Tanner Grimes and Clay Whiddon also went down to Highlands Ranch.
Practice for the 2004 football season begins at 8 a.m. Aug. 16 at the high school. All athletes interested in participating must have a completed physical and a signed athletic form before they can begin practicing. Any player with questions is encouraged to call Finch at 846-1671.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org