Taller than ever, Sailors football aims for first win | SteamboatToday.com

Taller than ever, Sailors football aims for first win

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The two newest wide receivers on the Steamboat Springs High School football team don't stick out because of their ability to catch a ball or because of their 40-yard dash time.

They stick out before an observer can note either of those things.

Mac Riniker, 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, and Tyler Doyne, 6-foot-4 and 165, both juniors, tower over all but a few of their teammates. Appropriately, their main focus is basketball, but on a lark and already several games into the 2017 fall season, they decided to go out for the football team.

The Sailors were glad to have them.

Riniker was second on the basketball team last year in scoring, averaging 9.9 points per game, and rebounding, grabbing 4.7 boards per game. Doyne had 3.6 points per game and three rebounds.

Their path to the gridiron started with some encouraging words from a friend, freshman Ryan Hansen.

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"He just convinced me how fun it was this year, that we have a good group of guys and it's super fun," Riniker said.

Riniker and Doyne discussed their options and decided to take the leap together.

By state rule, they couldn't officially take the field for the Sailors until they'd completed nine practices, so they saw their first game action last weekend in a home loss to Basalt.

They both quickly figured into the offense, however, each hauling in one pass for more than 20 yards.

"It was a little awkward at first because we didn't know any of the plays, but we're figuring it out," Doyne said.

Sailors head football coach Shawn Baumgartner said it's about keeping things simple for the pair at this point. They each competed in football in middle school and junior high but opted out in their first two years of high school. They didn't take part in summer camps or even in the first practices of the fall season, so in plenty of ways, they're behind.

They're fast and tall and can catch, however, and a team that's 0-5 and already through the midway point of the season wasn't about to turn away athletes with those skills.

"We've all been on board," Baumgartner said. "One of our goals this year was to increase our numbers, and I told the team, 'Here are some numbers. Here are a couple of athletes. Understand when they get here, they will take someone's position.’"

The team has a "unity council" comprised of two players from each grade. Baumgartner convened that group to weigh its opinion and the answer was resounding — “bring 'em in.”

"They said, 'We want the best kids out there playing,'" Baumgartner said.

Steamboat will need their playmaking potential, plus that of the rest of the roster on Friday night in what may be the team's best chance to win a game this season.

The Sailors will travel to play at 7 p.m. Friday at Roaring Fork High School.

Both teams enter the game 0-5, and neither's played a particularly close game.

The Rams didn't score their first points of the season until last week against the Moffat County junior varsity in what was a 61-6 loss.

Steamboat's been a little better offensively but has just 19 points — two touchdowns and two field goals — through five games.

But, this is one the Sailors are hoping they can win, and Baumgartner said the approach he's seen this week in practice has convinced him his team is up for that challenge.

He wondered aloud Saturday after the loss to Basalt — a 48-0 game that was largely decided in the first few minutes of the first quarter — whether that was the kind of game that could finish the season, for all practical purposes, so discouraging his athletes would only jog through the rest of the schedule.

"This is that turning point," Baumgartner said. "This is the time where we either come together as a team or we start going our own ways as individuals. We've had great practices this week. We've really come together, and that's what we needed to do in order to get ready for this game this weekend."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9.