Steamboat’s Austin Hinder preps for All-American game Saturday | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat’s Austin Hinder preps for All-American game Saturday

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs High School senior Austin Hinder, left, watches the U.S. Army All-American Bowl practice with University of Texas quarterback commit Connor Wood. Hinder will play in the Saturday prep football all-star game with top players from across the country. The game will be broadcast live at 11 a.m. Saturday on NBC.

— Being from Steamboat Springs, Austin Hinder hasn't seen the overall perception change much.

He still gets told that Steamboat is a ski town and, despite a run to the Class 3A state football championship this fall, it's not really a football town.

But Hinder's doing all he can to disprove that.

The senior is taking part in the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio this week.

The all-star-laden event includes most of the top prep high school football players from across the country and concludes Saturday with an East against West game in the Alamodome.

The game begins at 11 a.m. and will be broadcast live on NBC.

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"Oh man, this is the real deal," Hinder said Wednesday after he practiced with his West teammates. "The first day was kind of a new experience. It was a completely new experience. I snapped the ball, took my step, dashed out and something went wrong with the blocks, and I was on my back. It was the fastest thing I've ever seen."

Hinder, who arrived in San Antonio on Monday, said things have gotten better and that he's feeling more comfortable each day.

Players start at 9 a.m. and practice until 3:30 p.m. each day. After dinner, the players attend meetings. The schedule is more like what Hinder will see when he enrolls at the University of California, Berkeley, in the spring.

Hinder, who has had to battle pundits all year who say he hasn't played against top-level competition, said this week is where he's had to prove to everyone and himself that he belongs on the field.

Hinder, who is one of three quarterbacks on the West roster, said he wasn't sure whether he'd start the game or when he'd play. He said the initial plan is for each quarterback to get at least a quarter in the game.

Regardless of playing time, Hinder said the experience has been one of the best of his high school career on and off the field.

"No question, this has this helped me as a player," he said. "Mostly with mental toughness. It's learning a new offense. You know you're not going to be successful right away with brand-new teammates and a brand-new system. But you learn not to give up."

If you go

What: 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: Alamodome in San Antonio

Television: Live broadcast starts at 11 a.m. on NBC