Key offensive player for Steamboat got his start in 8-man football | SteamboatToday.com

Key offensive player for Steamboat got his start in 8-man football

Senior Austin Ban has been the driving force of the Steamboat Springs High School varsity offense and defense this year. He leads the team with 474 rushing yards and seven touchdowns and has 16 total tackles this season, third-most on defense. Ban moved to Steamboat last year after playing two years of 8-man football in Kiowa. (Photo by Leah Vann)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Quiet leaders have a story to tell, and while everyone sees Steamboat Springs’ No. 32 powering down the field on offense and knocking down players on defense, not everyone knows who he is.

“You wouldn't even know he was there, unless you were looking for him,” Steamboat Springs head football coach Shawn Baumgartner said. “He never asks to come out of the game, he never gets tired, or says he does. He plays every play on offense and every play on defense,  and we try to give him a rest on special teams. He's a hard-working kid you just love to have on your football team.”

Ban isn’t a kid who grew up wanting to play football for the Sailors. He moved to Steamboat last fall from Kiowa, a small ranch town just southeast of Denver with an 8-man football team.

“My parents just wanted something better for me, so I moved here with my grandparents,” Ban said.

Since Ban transferred, he had to sit out half of last year’s season, playing the other half on junior varsity. It was a nice transition for the former 8-man football player, because he was able to learn more about 11-man football and familiarize himself with the Sailors’ playbook.

“Kiowa was traditionally a good football school from when I was coaching in Hayden,” Baumgartner said. “He's a good open-field tackler and good open-field runner. That carries over when you get into those situations since it (8-man) is such a wide-open game and you do get exposed really quickly, especially defensively in one-on-one situations.”

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In 8-man, it’s make the tackle or the runner might get a touchdown. Ban said the game is a lot quicker and even more taxing as a result, which is why 11-man, in some ways, is easier. But the competition is definitely heightened in 11-man, and Ban embraces that challenge.

“Adding three people on a side is actually a big difference; it's a lot slower of a game,” Ban said. “Eight-man is a lot faster of a game, and you have to be a fast person. It’s that speed you get from 8-man that gets you going into 11-man.”

Steamboat Springs High School senior Austin Ban carries the ball against Battle Mountain on Friday, Oct. 12 at Gardner Field. (Photo by Leah Vann)

Ban leads the team with 474 yards rushing this year, averaging 5.1 yards per carry while scoring seven touchdowns, second behind senior quarterback Drew Bowers, who has 10. Ban ranks as the third best tackler on the team with 16 total tackles.

“He’s a great running back, has great vision and is hitting the hole hard,” Baumgartner said.

Despite the success, Ban wants more for the Sailors, who have dropped four out of their last seven games by one score, including a 35-33 homecoming loss to rival Battle Mountain.

“Not having big results kind of sucks, but we've grown so much,” Ban said. “The guys have seen how much we've grown since last year. We're not losing by five or six touchdowns like we were last year.”

There’s more that he can do, and he has two more games left in the regular season to prove it.

“My goal is to get more touchdowns because in the last two games, I haven't gotten one,” Ban said.

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email lvann@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.

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