Steamboat football seniors prepare for 1 more stand |

Steamboat football seniors prepare for 1 more stand

Luke Graham

The seniors who will be playing their last home game Friday include, from left, Skyler Kauf, Chris Harris, Michael Yost, Thomas Tarcha, Jack Lupori, Nathan Parks, Mike Lekarczyk, Christian Ramirez, Ben Custer and Penn Lukens. Not pictured are Dylan Wilkinson and Brad Ryan.

— As a sophomore, Nick Harris is composed and well-spoken.

Most importantly, he sounds genuinely excited about the future of the Steamboat Springs High School football team, and he looked toward the prime reason two grades ahead of him.

Twelve seniors will take the field for the last time at 7 p.m. Friday at Gardner Field against Delta.

It's a unique blend.

There are cowboys and skiers, wrestlers and lacrosse players. And for those 12, the past three years inevitably will have an effect on the rest of their lives.

"That class has been ridiculously helpful," Harris said. "Really, when they were juniors, they were pretty much the seniors since we had only three seniors. They've been a big help. They have the most heart. They taught us don't ever go down without a fight and show that every game and every practice."

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Most of the members of the class were thrust into action two years ago. What followed wasn't pretty.

The group and Steamboat endured two consecutive winless seasons. It was a streak for which they didn't want to be known.

While some quit and some joined, the core of 12 remained at the heart of the team.

"The easy way out is to always quit," Steamboat coach Lonn Clementson said. "Especially when you have naysayers all around you. We all want to be state champions now. We all want to be in the playoffs now. It doesn't work out that way. But if you want to put in effort, good things will happen."

There were lowlights, blowouts, near misses and Friday nights when they looked like they didn't belong. But each Monday, the team would show up ready for the next week.

As sophomores, they were forced into action. As juniors, they were forced to lead. Now as seniors, they've learned to win, entering the week at 4-5 overall with a chance to beat another playoff-bound team.

When teams are winning, it's easy. When teams grow together while losing and start to succeed, that's when it becomes a special group.

"We've grown incredibly close as a group," senior Skyler Kauf said. "The connections and relationships I've built with my teammates surpasses any win total. We've learned you have to persevere through everything."

One last Friday will mark the end for Kauf, Nathan Parks, Mike Lekarczyk, Dylan Wilkinson, Ben Custer, Brad Ryan, Michael Yost, Thomas Tarcha, Chris Harris, Jack Lupori, Christian Ramirez and Penn Lukens.

It's a group that has endured a lot but, maybe most importantly, has laid the groundwork for future success.

"They stayed and believed in each other. They believed in a team," Clementson said.

"This really is a special group. You don't have to win games to know how special these guys really are."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email

Senior Night

Friday is Senior Night for the Steamboat Springs High School football team. Twelve seniors are being honored. They will be recognized at 6:40 p.m.