Steamboat Springs football team snaps 22-game losing streak |

Steamboat Springs football team snaps 22-game losing streak

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs junior Connor O'Brien celebrates as the Sailors take a 7-6 lead against visiting Summit County High School football team at Gardner Field Friday night.

— Football can be a strange game.

Take a kid like Skyler Kauf. The Steamboat Springs High School senior is articulate, smart and a heck of an athlete. He loathes losing, hates it with every bit of his being.

But for three plus years, it's all he's known. It's bothered at him like an itch just out of reach. It's been the big, ugly, droopy-eyed elephant in the room.

Kauf came to Steamboat his sophomore year from Teton Valley, Idaho. There, during his freshman year, he didn't win a game.

Then in Steamboat, Kauf endured 21 more losses and no wins.

In an instant, however, Kauf and the rest the Steamboat football team's shoulders became a lot lighter.

Recommended Stories For You

For those who have been through a 22-game losing streak dating back to 2009 — the wretched, the tough, the blowouts, the close calls, the doubt and whispers around school — Friday night meant everything.

It finally meant a win.

Behind three touchdown passes from senior Christian Ramirez — two to Kauf — and a stingy defense, Steamboat finally held on for a win, beating Summit, 21-19.

"Straight up the toughest part was losing," said Kauf, who had 7 catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns. "Hearing what other people think is hard. In the end, you want to win for the people that support you, not doubt you. The school and coaching staff and (head coach) Lonn (Clementson) deserves it as much as us. The hardest part is losing. I hate losing more than anything. Losing that much is tough, but it drives you."

After falling behind 6-0 late in the second quarter, Steamboat and offensive coordinator David May played their hand.

Steamboat went away from a stagnant running game and let Ramirez sling it. He found Kauf on a 27-yard slant route at the end of the second to take a 7-6 lead, the team’s first halftime lead since a November 2009 game in the state playoff semifinals.

Ramirez found Penn Lukens to open the second half from 14 yards out to take a 14-6 lead.

Then on Steamboat's next possession, Ramirez looked Kauf's way again. After a fade route turned up empty, Steamboat went right back to the same play. This time, Kauf dashed in from 66 yards out and a 21-6 Steamboat lead.

"Christian has a good connection with Skyler and the rest of the receivers," Clementson said.

Summit immediately responded with a 60-yard touchdown run by quarterback Sean Farley.

After trading possessions, Summit got a break. A snap went over Ramirez's head, and Summit's Nolan Rookey recovered and returned it for a touchdown and a 21-19 deficit, but the Tigers couldn't convert the 2-point conversion.

Steamboat got possession back with 5 minutes, 8 seconds left in the fourth quarter. After another errant snap, the Sailors were in a 3rd-and-22 position with 2:01 remaining. Instead of running, Steamboat ran another fly pattern to Kauf.

"We wanted to remain aggressive," Clementson said.

After some discussion, and an initial incomplete signal, the refs called it a catch giving Steamboat one last first down for the win.

"Yes, I caught it," Kauf said. "Absolutely."

Ramirez finished 11 for 18 for 239 yards, including completing nine of his last 11 passes.

Lukens added two catches for 23 yards and a touchdown, and Billy Clark had two interceptions. Steamboat's defense yielded just 258 yards, including 123 in the second half.

Steamboat next plays at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Moffat County.

"It's really indescribable at this point. It will hit us later," Clementson said. "The coaching staff, administration and people that supported us never wavered with us on what we're about. The only way we know how to coach football is work hard. We won a game, we're ecstatic about that, but this week is over at 11 a.m. (Saturday). We can't rest on this one win. It's incredible and indescribable, but it's temporary."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email

Go back to article