Steamboat seniors try football for the 1st time
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For 14 falls, Jevon Hovey played soccer.
In September, the Steamboat Mountain School senior started the season with the Sailors soccer team, playing on the pitch for about a month. Come October, Hovey was compelled to scratch his football itch and ditch football for American football.
“I played flag football when I was young, and I had a lot of friends who played football, so I always kind of wanted to play,” he said. “This year, I decided I was burnt out of soccer. I figured it was my last chance to try football before I graduated.”
Hovey is one of four players, three being seniors, that decided to play for the Steamboat Springs High School football team for the first time in their high school careers. For Hovey, it was the first time ever, which was admittedly daunting.
“I didn’t know anything about what I was getting myself into besides that it was football and everybody was bigger than me,” he said.
Seniors Leo Davies and Cole Gedeon, typically year-round skiers, joined the Sailors team with junior and fellow Alpiner, James Lahrman. Davies said he watched Gedeon play in the first game, a 33-26 win over Manual, and was convinced to join with Lahram the following week.
“They ski in the (Steamboat Springs) Winter Sports Club, so they do a lot of elite-level training,” Steamboat Springs football head coach Shawn Baumgartner said of the group. “They didn’t have a lot of football knowledge, but they had a lot of athletic ability that they were able to help us with.”
Davies, who is slotted in at wide receiver and cornerback for the Sailors, came in with some football skills, as he played in the secondary back in middle school.
“Wide receiver was a little intimidating at first, because I’m used to playing defense, hitting someone rather than getting hit,” Davies said. “This last game, I got to run the ball a little bit, and it was a lot better than I thought.”
Part of the team
The team and the coaches welcomed the newcomers with open arms. With two weeks remaining in the season, the players have meshed with the long-time players.
Gedeon has become a go-to target at wide receiver for freshman quarterback Cade Gedeon, while Lahrman has been an option in the backfield.
“Cole’s a big body. He’s got some speed and athletic ability out there, so he can make some plays,” Baumgartner said.
Davies said having leg strength built up through skiing was a benefit, as was his familiarity with film. With the SSWSC, he spends time analyzing the small movements of his slalom run via film. So, he had the right mindset going into watching football film, or adjusting subtleties on the field. He said the physicality of the sport has been the greatest challenge he’s faced since starting football.
Hovey utilized his existing skillset and became the team’s kicker. Even before senior kicker Jack Tracy went down with an injury, Hovey took over the booting duties.
“It’s not that different,” Hovey said. “I was pretty comfortable. I wasn’t that nervous or anything.”
He was worried kicking would be his only job, though, but he’s also gotten some time on the field as safety, which has been a solid transition position for him, since he has time to react to what’s happening.
With both sports having 11 team members, Hovey said he expected soccer and football to have more commonalities.
“It was strange to me that there’s such a specific set of instructions for every play,” he said. “At the beginning, I felt there wasn’t as much art to it. You couldn’t really express yourself quite as much as you could in soccer, you weren’t as free. Over the last few weeks I’ve kind of started to break into it a bit more. I think they’re very different.”
Typically, senior athletes are leaders and captains of their respective teams. Since these Sailors are essentially rookies, they aren’t necessarily helping others on the field but still serve as older, experienced athletes for underclassmen to look up to.
“They have that maturity both mentally and physically,” Baumgartner said. “To be able to step in and play at the varsity level, that physically maturity really does help. … We’re just really happy to have them.”
‘It’s not easy’
Davies, Gedeon, Hovey and Lahram are still skiing with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, and with snow on the ground, practices have picked up.
Hovey and Davies, both Alpine skiers, said they attend early-morning practices before school and traveled to a ski camp to Copper Mountain this past weekend.
“It’s pretty much year round,” Davies said. “We probably get three weeks off year in the spring.”
Of course, in between all that are classes and clubs and homework. Davies is part of Model U.N., National Honor Society and Student Council. As seniors, Hovey, Davies and Gedeon are also working to get college applications submitted. Both said it’s overwhelming balancing it all.
“It’s not easy,” they said.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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