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Steamboat player learns lessons despite losses

Michael Savory blends classroom with football

Steamboat Springs High School senior Michael Savory has started the past two years for the football team. The likely valedictorian plans to attend a top-level university to study chemical engineering.
Matt Stensland

— As teammate after teammate came to console Steam­boat Springs football player Michael Savory after Friday’s season-ending loss to Moffat County, there was a common theme in each helmet pat and half hug.

“Thanks for leading us this year,” one teammate said.

So even as Savory fought back the emotions of a winless season Friday night, it’s not hard to see why his teammates look up to him.



The senior is a natural leader, using his acumen in the classroom to make him a better football player and the things he learns on the football field as a linebacker and running back to make him a better person.

Understand that at this point next year, Savory will be at one of the top colleges in the country studying chemical engineering and basking in his freshman year. Come graduation, he’ll likely be the valedictorian.



But none of that mattered Friday night.

“This was a tough year,” an emotional Savory said after Friday’s loss. “But it’s always been fun to be a Sailor.”

Tale of 2 seasons

Savory, Tanner Anderson and Connor Landusky were three starters to return from last year’s team that made a run to the state championship game.

After Landusky blew out his knee, Savory and Anderson were two of the few seniors to make it through the entire year and play in every game.

Savory admits that last year was a blur. Winning was normal, and losing seemed like the last thing that would happen. Steamboat won 13 games straight before falling to Valor Christian in the state championship game.

“Last year was almost like a dream,” Savory said. “I didn’t really realize, but it seemed like winning was what we did. There wasn’t another option. This season was somewhat of a reality check. I know this team has worked hard. It’s been tough with the experience. But it’s definitely seeing life is going to knock you down. You’re not going to always be on top.”

Even with that, it was hard to find anyone who worked harder than Savory in the offseason.

Football is his sport. So Savory, for the most part, was a leader in offseason drills. One in particular stuck out to coach Lonn Clementson.

In January during the ball drill — a change of direction, high-intensity drill — a few players were throwing up. One player made it a point to let everyone know he was working so hard and throwing up.

“Michael’s co­m­­­ment was, ‘Well, did it taste like victory?’” Clementson said. “He knew and had always known it takes tremendous effort where you’re so uncomfortable and mentally about to break is where you find success. Both him and Tanner have done that. Sometimes the rest of the herd is going to follow you; sometimes they don’t.”

A bright future

As tough as the season has been, Savory said he might have learned more this year than last.

Savory, who registered a 33 on the ACT and a 1,990 on the SAT, hopes to attend school at Stanford University, Colorado School of Mines, Duke University, Vanderbilt University or Rice University.

His father and grandfather were valedictorians, and he said he’s made it his goal to do the same.

Savory said the classroom and the football field aren’t so different.

He isn’t the biggest guy on the field, but he treated football like a class. Savory goes into tests knowing he’s done all he could to study.

In football, it’s been the same thing.

So even as the reality of a 0-10 season started to set in for Savory after Friday’s loss, the senior realized this season wasn’t a lost cause. Maybe more than anything, it was a key learning experience in a future that looks bright.

“Really, throughout last year and this year, I realized the effort I put into things pays off,” Savory said. “I see it in school. I see it on the field. Putting in the time is worth it. I’ve dedicated myself to football just like I have to school. I’ve seen the results. I think I’ll have that dedication throughout my life.”


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