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Sailors boys lacrosse looks to keep program momentum going

— If you’re Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse, what exactly do you do for an encore?

The past two seasons can best be characterized as wildly successful with back-to-back drives to the Class 4A Final Four. But in 2013, the Sailors had a legendary coach who practically jumpstarted the program with a talented roster, and in 2014, new Steamboat coach Jay Lattimore was handed the keys to a Ferrari roster full of talent and experience.

This year could be different — much different — but the goal will always remain the same, Lattimore said.



“Every team changes each year,” the second-year coach said. “We want to take the little things from last year, like our leadership and dedication to the game, and implement that.”

Gone from last spring are the likes of Ben Wharton, the 4A player of the year for the 15-3 Sailors. They’ll also miss the leadership of the departed Michael Wong on defense, and all-state goalie Kaleb VanArsdale.



Even with a roster packed with upperclassmen last season, Lattimore made it a point, especially in the latter half of the schedule, to get sophomores and juniors valuable field time in critical moments.

Steamboat dashed past its first two playoff opponents, including a revenge victory of sorts at Valor Christian. The Sailors ultimately fell at Ponderosa in the semifinals, and the Bruins went on to win the state championship.

“Last year, I was getting young players time because I just knew they’d have to step up a lot this year,” Lattimore said. “And I’ll continue to do the same with this group.”

A few of the key holdovers from that Final Four squad are seniors Willy Gunn, Mitch McCannon and Sam Rossman. Gunn and McCannon combined to score 66 goals as juniors.

Then there’s the crew that was called upon in spot duty last year, made a difference and earned even more playing time as the season headed toward the playoffs.

“Guys like Joe DeLine, Jackson Draper and Nick Simon are frontrunners, who can get a lot of junior field action,” Lattimore said. “They all have to step up. We’re going to play more team ball, for sure.”

The Sailors’ quest to make it three straight Final Fours was supposed to begin last weekend, but their game at Douglas County was postponed due to snow on the field in Southern Colorado. That means Steamboat will begin 2015 at home this Friday against Eagle Valley, a rising program that struggled to a 3-12 record last season but is already 2-1 this spring.

This month alone, Steamboat will play Valor Christian (March 17), Thompson Valley (March 27) and Windsor (March 28), all of which are ranked in the Colorado High School Activities Association’s preseason top 10. With all the recent success in the program, Lattimore and company know there’s a fairly big target on their backs.

“I try to tell the guys that the players before them put Steamboat on the map,” Lattimore said. “There are teams worried about us, but at the same time, we have a lot to prove.”

Steamboat’s game against Eagle Valley Friday starts at 4 p.m. at Gardner Field.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll


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