Steamboat Springs High School senior Tyler Brown looks for some running room during practice Tuesday at Gardner Field.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs High School senior Tyler Brown looks for some running room during practice Tuesday at Gardner Field.

Steamboat Springs football kicks off season, fresh start Friday

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Last season hasn’t been forgotten by the Steamboat Springs High School football team. But the great thing about high school football is it starts fresh each summer.

So while the Sailors were a dismal 0-10 last year, they can still be upbeat about this year’s chances.

“It’s like you got a fire sweeping through a field, and it’s no fun,” head coach Lonn Clementson said. “That next year, though, can be a ton of growth. That’s how we look at it.”

That seems to be the general sentiment around a young Sailors team.

“We’ve all told ourselves it’s a new year,” junior Skyler Kauf said.

“Last year is last year,” senior Jake Manning said.

“It’s a new year and a new team,” junior Christian Ramirez said.

So for the record — it stands at 0-0 right now — it is a new year. So what exactly can be expected? Neither Clementson nor any of his players would attach a number of wins to the upcoming season. They won’t talk about which games are winnable and which ones will be tough.

Steamboat returns five starters on offense and six on defense. The team has only three seniors but a slew of juniors who saw playing time last season.

Ramirez returns for his second year at quarterback. Last season it was a baptism by fire for him. He returns this year with a new outlook.

“Last year ended with the last whistle,” Ramirez said. “We haven’t been thinking about it. Last year, it added a lot of confidence for me. I got experience in a rough season. It can only get better at this point.”

Steamboat will be looking for more consistency and tempo on offense. The team scored just 6.8 points a game last year. Despite hanging close in a few games, the team needs more consistency on each side of the ball to be successful.

“We all want to win and we’re doing everything we can,” Kauf said. “This group of guys, we don’t go in expecting to get blown out. We want to win and we expect nothing less of that.”

The schedule remains daunting.

Steamboat’s 2011 opponents had a combined 67-44 record last season, and feature a state champion and state runner-up.

But judging from interactions and convictions, there is reason for optimism. The team is a year older. They have a better understanding of the systems.

Besides, last year is last year.

“Coming off the state championship (game) two years ago, I’d say the same thing after not winning a game last year. We’re focused on our opponent at hand,” Clementson said. “If you think about two years ago, we won a lot of games and it was great. Last year, we lost a lot of games, and it was great because we were playing football.”

Steamboat opens the season at 7 p.m. Friday at Olathe.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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