Luke Graham: It’s almost there |

Luke Graham: It’s almost there

Luke Graham

— A beautiful thing happened Thursday in Routt County.

A dozen players from Hayden and a dozen from Steamboat Springs lined up for some 7-on-7 football action.

While the camp was void of hitting, running plays or a scoreboard, it did symbolize the beginning of football in the area.

Initial indications are good for both sides.

Hayden returns All-State running back Coy Letlow, a more seasoned quarterback in Mitch Doolin and a slew of athletes that make the passing game a reality this year.

With Zathan Bark, Jake Walker and Sam Kopsa out wide, all three are 11 second and change 100-meter dash guys, Hayden has an opportunity to line up and be dangerous on the outside.

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Preseason, Hayden will probably be at top 5 team in Class 1A.

Steamboat returns running back Jay Hanley – who’s up to 230 pounds and wants 240 before the season begins – in the backfield. They return a bunch of guys who saw playing time last year and with Alex Wood and Austin Hinder both looking more than capable to take charge at quarterback, Steamboat still should be one of the four playoff-bound teams from the Western Slope League.

While all that’s intriguing, I couldn’t help but think, what would happen if you were able to combine the two teams.

It would be something interesting.

In football, it would make quite a powerhouse.

Imagine lining up Hanley and Letlow in the same backfield. With all of the speed on the outside, it would make for a team that could pound the ball (Hanley and Letlow combined for more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns last year) or throw the ball.

With all of the athletes on both teams, it might be the fastest defense on the Western Slope.

The coaching staff would be even more interesting.

I’m not sure who’d be the head coach, but with an offensive mind such as Steamboat’s Aaron Finch and defensive coaches like Steamboat’s Lonn Clementson and Hayden’s Shawn Baumgartner and Bob Harris, it would be tough to find a more well-rounded collection of football minds.

The funny thing is, if you combined Hayden, Steamboat and even Soroco, the Routt County all-star team still would be able to play in Class 3A.

Steamboat currently plays – and does well by itself – in Class 3A.

Class 3A in Colorado allows schools with enrollments between 551 and 1100 to play in 3A.

Add Hayden, Steamboat and Soroco together and you’d wind up with 928.

Heck, if you added Moffat County into the mix, you’d have one of the biggest 4A schools competing in football.

While we can all wonder what would happen, one thing is known for sure, Thursday night was a beautiful thing.

It lets us know football in Routt County is less than a month away.

– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail