Luke Graham.

staff

Luke Graham.

Luke Graham: Promote Clementson

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— There was a little letdown when the announcement came last week that Steamboat Springs High School football coach Aaron Finch was stepping down after six years.

I’ve been here through four of those years.

We didn’t start off too well. Finch didn’t like what I wrote, and I thought he was being too sensitive toward his program.

I figured we would have a tumultuous relationship.

But we worked it out, and he rapidly became one of my favorite coaches.

Besides, it’s easy to cover teams when they are winning. Finch went 52-18 in six seasons, including making the playoffs in his last five years.

But beyond winning, I learned a lot about football from Finch. He played college football and got a cup of coffee in the pros before becoming unbelievably successful in the business realm.

He often ran his football program like a successful business. I’ve never seen someone so detail-oriented. On road games, he’d have the exact time things would happen.

Leave at 11:05 a.m. Arrive in Grand Junction at 2:50 p.m.

His ability as an offensive playcaller is what taught me the most. He installed offenses that fit around his best playmakers.

Often, I’d sit and talk with Finch for more than 30 minutes before writing a preview of an upcoming game. Generally, about five of those minutes were on the record. The other 25, he’d tell me what to really look for. We’d talk strategy, strengths and weaknesses. It helped me Friday nights to know what to look for during a game.

But now, Finch is leaving to pursue other business opportunities. As he told me, he couldn’t do both because when he does something, he does it full bore.

I could see that. During football season, he’d be in the coach’s office by midmorning and not leave until late.

I can’t blame him for leaving the program.

So the question is, who’s next? It’s one of the better football jobs in the state. Steamboat normally produces good athletes, and there is a chance to win and make the playoffs every year.

But it’s tough to bring someone in from the outside. The man who should get the job is defensive coordinator Lonn Clementson. Clementson played for Steamboat and has ran the defense for the past six years.

He knows the players. He knows Steamboat and as good a job as Finch did with the offense, Clementson may have done better with the defense.

Like Finch, Clementson puts his players in the best position to win. He knows he’s not likely to get the biggest players but makes up for it by designing his defense around speed.

There will be an adjustment period, no doubt. Running a program is different than being an assistant.

But if there is one way to make a smooth transition and keep the program where it’s at, it’s hiring Clementson.

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