Steamboat kicks off season at Gardner Field today against Olathe |

Steamboat kicks off season at Gardner Field today against Olathe

Luke Graham

Members of the Steamboat Springs High School football team warm up during practice Thursday. The Sailors open their season at 7 p.m. today at Gardner Field.

— All the questions surrounding two of the most successful Colorado high school football programs of the past five years should start receiving answers today.

Steamboat Springs and Olathe — with a combined 24-2 record in 2009 — open the season at 7 p.m. today at Gardner Field.

And the two teams couldn't be more strikingly similar. Each has made a state championship game in the past two years, with Olathe winning a Class 2A title in 2008 and Steamboat advancing to last year's Class 3A game.

But each team enters this year trying to replace players everywhere. Between the teams, 37 starters from those 24 wins have to be replaced.

"We haven't played Steam­boat before," Olathe coach Ryan Corn said. "It gives a different look. We're coming in and looking at this as a challenge for us. They came in second last year to a very good Valor Christian team. Steamboat's not going to stop from that."

With the contest being a Zero Week game — a game before most of the rest of the state starts — it could serve as a refresher clinic for each coach.

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The teams will each line up in a 3-5 front on defense and run varying forms of the option. Outside of that, Steamboat coach Lonn Clementson and Corn knew little of each other's program beyond past successes.

"We just need the opponent to get here and play football," Clementson said. "Then we can find out where we are in reference to what we need to work on. It will be very telling."

Clementson wouldn't name a starting quarterback Thursday, saying Christian Ramirez and Michael Savory might play. At this point in the season, Clementson said he hopes to keep things simple, yet effective.

"We'll run what we run really well," he said. "In this case, I would rather have it an inch wide and a mile deep as opposed to a mile wide and an inch deep. Instead of doing a bunch of things OK, I'd like to do a few things really well."

Although there are early questions, the game still holds significant meaning for Steamboat. In Class 3A this season, only the seven league champions are guaranteed playoff positions. The remaining nine spots will come from wild card points, meaning every game matters.

"We just need to settle down and play some football," Clem­entson said. "I don't think we're nervous, by any means. But it's that first game, first hit, first home crowd, first week of school. They're all a bunch of firsts. We need to get those firsts behind us but enjoy them."

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