Steamboat Springs High School football line coach Tim Krumrie explains a blocking technique to player Josh Heald during the Sailors practice earlier this week.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs High School football line coach Tim Krumrie explains a blocking technique to player Josh Heald during the Sailors practice earlier this week.

Steamboat football team turns focus to new talent

Sailors to replace 19 starters

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Sailor Landen Mertz attempts to slip past teammate Jimmy Weltzheimer in practice early last week. The Steamboat Springs High School football team went back to work last Monday preparing for the upcoming season.

2010 Steamboat Springs High School schedule

Aug. 27 vs. Olathe, 7 p.m.

Sept. 4 at Holy Family, 3 p.m.

Sept. 17 vs. Montrose, 7 p.m.

Sept. 24 vs. Eagle Valley, 7 p.m.

Oct. 1 vs. Delta, 7 p.m.

Oct. 8 at Rifle, 7 p.m.

Oct. 15 vs. Glenwood Springs, 7 p.m.

Oct. 21 at Palisade, 7 p.m.

Oct. 29 vs. Battle Mountain, 7 p.m.

Nov. 5 at Moffat County, 7 p.m.

— They’ve all heard it. Heck, who hasn’t?

The 2010 football season, just a year after the Steamboat Springs High School football team advanced to the Class 3A state championship game, will be a rebuilding year. A wash of sorts.

The talent is gone. There are too many players to replace. There is a first-year head coach.

For the Sailors, it’s a simple case of trying to make sure perception doesn’t equal reality.

“The only way to break that perception is to win football games,” said new head coach Lonn Clementson, who was the defensive coordinator for six seasons under former coach Aaron Finch. “The only way to win football games is to do what we’ve always done.”

At least on paper, that could be a daunting task.

Steamboat returns only three starters — seniors Michael Savory, Tanner Anderson and Connor Landusky — from last year’s team that went 13-1 before falling in the state championship.

Add in a new offensive scheme and new players and expectations might be tempered.

Well, not exactly.

Clementson spent much of the spring and summer pounding away and making sure expectations don’t dip at all.

There are good signs throu­ghout.

All of the key coaching staff remains, including Jerry Stabile, David May, Mike Appel and Mike McCannon.

Steamboat also might have the best line coach in all of high school football. The team added Tim Krumrie to the staff to help coach the offensive and defensive lines. Krumrie was a two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman in 1987 and 1988 for the Cincinnati Bengals. Last season he was the defensive line coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.

But as it always is, the results will come from the players on the field.

Clementson sounded confident Thursday when talking about the season. The team will switch from a spread offense to more of an option look.

“We’re not going to be throwing a 25-yard out,” Clementson said. “We don’t have anyone on the team that can do that. We’re going to try to accomplish things offensively that are within the capability of the offense. The bottom line is we’re trying to match the offensive philosophy to our defensive philosophy. Meaning discipline will be No. 1 — it will be downhill and simple.”

Christian Ramirez and Sa­v­­ory are splitting reps at quarterback, but a starter more than likely won’t be named before the Aug. 27 opener.

Still, there’s optimism the offense will produce.

“Our first goal is the playoffs and see where we can go from there,” said Savory, who served as a backup quarterback last season. “We can definitely do that. We’re changing up the offense and stuff so that’ll change up the dynamics.”

The early pre-league schedule could be telling. Steamboat opens at 7 p.m. Aug. 27 against Olathe at home.

The team then plays at Holy Family and hosts Montrose before the Western Slope League opener Sept. 24. By that time, there should be a better picture of what type of team Steamboat will be.

“We may have lost some guys, but it’s the same mentality,” Landusky said. “We’ll be getting after it. It’ll be outworking everybody.”

Getting past that perception certainly can be done. All Steamboat has to do is look at conference rival Glenwood Springs.

After winning a state title in 2008, Glenwood’s roster was depleted by graduation. But last season Glenwood showed no signs of it, advancing to the state quarterfinals.

Besides, as Clementson reiterated, the perception outside of the locker room doesn’t carry much weight.

“The key is for us to get mentally past this perception. It’s all over town. The perception goes from the top to the bottom,” he said. “I hear the same things. How are you going to be 52-18 like coach Finch? We were all here for that. It’s not a negative thing. It is what it is. I know that’s a cliché, but these guys are good football players.

“It will look different than last year. But the kids are really working hard. They believe that we’ll have an exciting season ahead of us, and that we can and will win football games.”

Key departures

QB Austin Hinder: Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year and current freshman at University of California, Berkeley. Enough said.

RB Joe Dover: Ran for 1,400 yards and had 30 total touchdowns.

OL/DL Carl Steele: A fixture on both lines for three years. Anchored last year’s offensive line and was one of the toughest players in the league.

Key returners

LB Michael Savory: Racked up 95 tackles last season as a junior.

FB Connor Landusky: Leading returning rusher. Finished last season with 127 yards and a touchdown.

OL Tanner Anderson: The lone returning offensive lineman is expected to anchor the unit.

Key game

Aug. 27 vs. Olathe

Steamboat comes into the season with a ton of questions. The 7 p.m. game at Gardner Field will be the first look at the new Sailors. This game, against one of Class 2A’s best, should be a good initial barometer of how the season might go.

Key questions

How does the new-look offense perform?

After three years of a Division I-level quarterback leading the charge, Steamboat moves from a spread to an option look this season. It will either be Christian Ramirez or Michael Savory taking the snaps. A big part of the season should hinge on whether the offense can put up points.

Can the success continue?

Steamboat has been a model program for the past six seasons on the Western Slope. But with 19 starters from last season gone, expectations might be tempered this season. But as is always the mantra, the goal remains the same — make the playoffs and then see what happens.

Will a playmaker emerge?

In each of the past several seasons Steamboat Springs always had that one go-to guy. Can the Sailors find that this year with a group of players with minimal experience? Doing so should go a long way in a fight for another playoff spot.

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