Steamboat Springs High School football coach Lonn Clementson’s team knew the final month of the 2013 season would be a gauntlet.
2013 Sailors football schedule
- Aug. 30: Eagle Valley 48, Steamboat 12
- Sept. 6: Steamboat 37, Summit 32
- Sept. 13: Steamboat 57, Moffat County 15
- Sept. 20: Glenwood Springs 37, Steamboat 10
- Sept. 28: Steamboat 35, Montezuma-Cortez 27
- Oct. 4: Steamboat 27, Battle Mountain 16
- Oct. 11: Palisade 56, Steamboat 0
- Oct. 18: Rifle 50, Steamboat 10
- Oct. 26: Lutheran 61, Steamboat 7
- Nov. 1: Delta 50, Steamboat 12
Since taking on first-place Palisade on Oct. 11, the Sailors were pinned against three of the Western Slope League’s top-four squads along with a nonleague matchup against 7-2 Lutheran last week.
It’s not easy to pin a team that sported more than a dozen freshman and sophomores in its season finale against the brunt of a strong conference. It’s also not easy to build that team’s confidence when it gets behind big early, like the Sailors did against Palisade, Rifle and Lutheran.
But on Friday night at Delta, Steamboat’s final game of the 2013 season, Clementson said the 50-12 loss featured far more building blocks than a 38-point loss usually does.
In the first quarter, Steamboat sophomore quarterback Zach Holm marched the Sailors right down the field, and with a scoring strike, had his team up 6-0.
Then right away, Steamboat (4-6 overall) got “its first legitimate defensive stop in a month,” Clementson said. As far as confidence goes, Clementson couldn’t have asked for a better start.
“If we could have put together at least another quarter of how we played in the first quarter, we had a shot,” Clementson said.
But there’s a reason Delta is likely staring at a playoff berth. Not long into the third quarter, the Panthers had built a running clock score on what Clementson called a poor start to the second half.
"The better team won Friday night," Clementson said afterward. Seniors like running back Charles Toye, receiver/defensive back Dustin Andres and lineman/linebacker Brandon Yeager saw their Sailors football careers come to an end. It was an emotional post-game locker room, but the Sailors coach said his group doesn’t make excuses.
“The last four games did not turn out the way we had hoped, but there’s no excuses,” Clementson said. “If we’re going to play with the big boys, we have to get better and get more experience.”
Since the Sailors first took the field in late August, that experience Clementson is looking for began to build. In 2014, Steamboat will return its leading receiver and rusher Mitch McCannon, leading passer in Holm, and a few players who saw action on both offense and defense, like Billy Clark, Joe DeLine and Jonathan Martinez.
The final score of the season even came when freshman quarterback Matthew Hansen — filling in for an injured Holm late in the game — plunged in from a few yards out.
For that group and the rest of the returning players, it starts in the weight room, and most importantly to their coach, summer football camps.
“One of my favorite quotes comes from a former strength coach at CU that says, ‘Guys inconsistent in the weight room are inconsistent on the field,’” Clementson said. “The last four teams that we played, their weight rooms are full.”
To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll