Steamboat Springs coach Lonn Clementson looks in on a passing drill as Jimmy Weltzheimer tracks a pass from Joe Deline. The Sailors begin their season Friday night with a 7 p.m. game against Eagle Valley.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Springs coach Lonn Clementson looks in on a passing drill as Jimmy Weltzheimer tracks a pass from Joe Deline. The Sailors begin their season Friday night with a 7 p.m. game against Eagle Valley.

Steamboat football eager to kick off new season

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— The Steamboat Springs High School football team is about to find out what, exactly, momentum is worth.

The squad entered the 2012 season riding a 21-game losing streak, but it did so led by a group of seniors who, if nothing else, gained valuable experience during that two-plus season slog.

They went on to snap that streak in the second week of the season and won three other games, finishing, 4-6, to breath life into a program that desperately needed a jump start.

Now, with that new life but without those experienced seniors, Steamboat must try to keep that winning attitude going.

The Sailors kick off their season at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Eagle Valley, but building on last year’s wins won’t be easy.

“We are definitely young and inexperienced in a lot of areas, so to capitalize on that momentum from last year, we are going to have to get some mileage and experience, especially early,” fourth-year Steamboat coach Lonn Clementson said. “With our youth, there will be a lot of baptism by fire.”

No one on the team will face as much action as fast as sophomore Zach Holm, who’s expected to start at quarterback, replacing three-year starter Christian Ramirez.

This actually is the third consecutive time a sophomore has secured the job as Austin Hinder preceded Ramirez in taking over the job after just one year in high school.

Hinder went on to become one of the most highly touted football players in the school’s history. Ramirez suffered through two winless seasons but was a big part of the team’s breakthrough last season.

In Holm, Clementson sees a dedicated, physical player with plenty of tools.

“He’s a very strong young man, and he can run and throw, but he needs experience,” Clementson said.

The Sailors are hoping the athletes they do return this year are exactly the right ones to help break in a new quarterback.

Two of the team’s most veteran players, seniors Cole Sittig and Brandon Yeager, have been staples on the offensive line since they were sophomores, and they could offer the kind of protection a developing quarterback desperately will need.

Then, experienced juniors Mitch McCannon and Billy Clark will offer the team its top options at running back and receiver.

“They bring an incredible amount of athleticism and speed to the table,” Clementson said.

What will it all add up to when the team takes the field Friday? Even Clementson is not entirely sure. He said despite seeing graduation exodus of talent vaguely reminiscent of what the team saw in 2009, before the losing streak started, the program is in a far different place.

With 48 players out, Steamboat's roster is as large as it’s been since that 2009 team, and with 20 freshmen, there’s an immense amount of optimism for the future.

Clementson is hoping that even if there are a few “rebuilding weeks," the 2013 season doesn’t go down as a “rebuilding year.”

“We’ve settled into the system, and the kids understand what we’re trying to achieve,” he said. “They’re comfortable with that, and that comfort will raise their level of performance. We are excited to play.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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