Steamboat Springs Fourth downs transitioned seamlessly to first downs, requiring no change of possession no matter the yardage gained. Nearly every play started at the 40-yard line, penalties didn’t count and no one even pretended to keep score.
And, by virtue of no one getting seriously hurt, both coaches from Friday night’s high school football scrimmage that pitted Steamboat Springs against Hayden argued everyone came away a winner.
“I thought it was great fun,” Steamboat head coach Lonn Clementson said. “We both got a chance to find out where we need to teach more. There were a lot of pleasant surprises.”
The Tigers and the Sailors butted heads in structured scrimmage, each side taking turns with 10 plays on offense before turning the ball over.
There was a little bit of everything.
The Tigers got a few big sacks and a couple long, breakaway runs. The Sailors clogged up the middle on defense and completed a few good passes.
There were fumbles and bad snaps, assignment errors and dropped passes, but in the end, there were smiles all the way around.
For Steamboat, the scrimmage marked the team’s first public appearance of a new era, one summed up deftly by an official between plays. He leaned over to a not-big-enough-for-his-jersey freshman and asked, “So, how many seniors did you lose again?”
The answer: A lot. Gone are most of the star players from the team that took the squad all the way to the state championship game in the winter. Even the coach that took them there is gone.
“Every offseason is important,” Clementson said. “We do have a lot of kids that will get a lot more reps because of the guys that left, but we love the seniors we have this year. We love what we have coming back, and we can’t spend time looking in the rearview mirror.”
Hayden, too, came into the workout with questions, and coach Shawn Baumgartner said he found plenty of answers.
He said he liked what he saw from wrecking ball defensive end Treyben Letlow and the option game decisions returning quarterback Graig Medvesk and sophomore backup Mark Doolin.
“It was good. It was what we needed,” Baumgartner said. “Our main focus coming in was our running game, and I was pleased. Graig made some nice reads against Steamboat’s defense, which is really tough. Those guys fly.
“Seeing that speed is good as we get ready to go into the season because we won’t see many teams as fast as these guys.”
For now though, it’s back to work — work in the weight room and on the field when possible — all eyes focused on Aug. 16 when official practices can begin.
“Can’t wait for two-a-days,” Clementson said.