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Steamboat’s season debut Saturday

Melinda Mawdsley

Arvada coach Bob Bozied remembers the feelings running through his head and body 35 years ago during the week leading up to his first varsity game as a coach. They weren’t much different than what was going through his mind Aug. 28, when he opened his eighth season at Arvada against Grand Junction.

“I don’t think it ever changes,” Bozied said this week from Arvada High School. “It’s a very anxious feeling. You wonder if you got everything done, even if you did, and that everyone got it. … Over the years, from my perspective, we coaches don’t have as much control on the field as we think we do. One of the neat things is watching kids be athletes and react to different situations.”

If there is any anxiousness inside Steamboat Springs coach Aaron Finch, he did a good job masking it Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s been a good week so far,” he said. “You know in college how you’re always behind until finals? We’ll be caught up by noon on Saturday.”

Steamboat (0-0) opens the season against Arvada (0-1) at noon Saturday at the North Area Athletic Complex just off Colorado Highway 93 between Golden and Boulder.

It will be the first varsity game for Finch as head coach. It will be the first varsity game for several Sailors. It also will be the first time Steamboat has gotten on the field in an 11-on-11 situation since it left Florence on the losing end of a semifinal game in November.

“From my perspective, I’m more than ready to get going with the season,” Finch said. “I know the players are anxious to stop beating on each other and see where they are at. We know we have great athletes and kids that work hard. The schemes we’ve put together we feel good about, but nothing’s been tested.”

The Reds, on the other hand, have been tested, coming up just short in a 23-6 loss to Grand Junction on Saturday. The game was close — 16-6 — until the fourth quarter. Arvada was held to just 224 yards in total offense by Grand Junction’s blitzing zone defense. The Reds attempted 45 passes but only gained 15 yards on 27 rushing attempts. Don’t expect those attempts numbers to be much different Saturday.

“We are going to throw it 50 times this week,” Bozied said. “We are a very spread offense. In a passing game, we’re not trying to throw it down the field the whole time. My philosophy is to get the ball to the athletes.”

Sounds familiar. Last year, the Sailors relied heavily on their passing game, even with a lead. This year, don’t be surprised to see Steamboat running first and passing second, particularly on Saturday.

“I want them thinking about executing this week,” Finch said. “Half our playbook we have not installed, and we will look to do that as move forward. … School started this week, and we realized there were a couple things we didn’t have in that we really wanted to have in by this weekend.”

Steamboat traveled to Granby on Saturday for a three-team scrimmage with Middle Park and Estes Park. That one opportunity to face different teams almost didn’t happen because of Middle Park’s injuries and a blizzard that closed Trail Ridge Road. Estes Park eventually was able to make it.

“On the running game we were effective even though we weren’t doing things as well as we could,” Finch said. “It’s hard to know where Estes is this year, but they gave us some good challenges defensively.”

While there is some anticipation regarding Steamboat’s offense this season, there is certainly a high level of excitement surrounding the debut of its new defense. Few high school teams play a 3-5 set, but with the new scheme comes added levels of discipline and responsibility.

The roots of the defense, Finch said, are essentially a nickel defense with added help in the secondary if need be. Finch said Grand Junction did not pressure Arvada’s quarterbacking duo of Donny Freeny and Mike Rosales much last week, opting instead to drop back in coverage to open up the short middle areas of the field.

“We want to give them a lot of different looks,” Finch said.

— To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com


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