Delta ‘the have-to-win’ game for Sailors |

Delta ‘the have-to-win’ game for Sailors

Luke Graham

— It’s not hard to pull out the football schedule and see the games a team is supposed to win.

When Steamboat Springs High School football coach Aaron Finch looked at this year’s schedule, tonight’s 7 p.m. game at Delta was one he probably circled and thought Steamboat had a good chance to win.

But as has been said before, there are no easy games in the Western Slope League. Take, for example, last year’s game between then-league favorite Steamboat and winless Delta.

The Sailors had to overcome five turnovers and block two fourth-quarter field goals to hold on for a 10-7 win.

Fast forward to today.

“This is a game we should probably win,” Finch said. “And in our league, the should-wins are the have-to-wins.”

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The Panthers (1-4 overall, 1-3 in league play) have been competitive in most of their games this year before falling apart in the second halves. Delta features two of the better skill position players in the league in quarterback Kevin Osborne and running back Luke Schmalz.

“We’re just a more experienced team making the same old mistakes,” Delta coach Kirk McLaughlin said. “But we’ve yet to put a full game together, and that comes down to focus.”

McLaughlin, in his first year as the head coach for the Panthers, said he knows Steamboat is a dangerous team with playmakers all over the field.

“Steamboat’s got talented kids at the skill positions that can make big plays,” McLaughlin said. “We have to stop that running back from making big plays and keep the mental mistakes down.”

Steamboat gets some good news this week when offensive weapons Cody Harris and Joe Dover return.

The Steamboat offense is still improving in only its third week in the “pistol formation.”

“We’ve worked a little bit on schemes this week,” Finch said. “We’re still in that learning mode and we’re going to continue to get better, but we definitely worked on some different nuances.”

Finch said the key to the game will be setting the tone early.

“I know (defensive coordinator Lonn) Clementson likes it when we start ahead,” Finch said. “You need to come out and set the tone of the game if you’re going to be successful in the long run.”

With Steamboat undertaking its first long road trip of the year, Finch said there’s concern how the team will react on the road. Still, Finch expects the Sailors to be ready.

“We have to get off the bus and have ourselves ready to play,” Finch said. “Offensively, we have to do things we’ve been doing. Defensively, we have to play aggressive.”

If you go

What: Steamboat at Delta football

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Delta High School, 1400 Pioneer Road

Radio: AM 1230

Last year’s game

Steamboat 10, Delta 7

After Steamboat’s Jay Hanley scored from 7 yards out on the second drive of the game, the Steamboat offense struggled for most of the game. Steamboat added a 44-yard Ben DeLine field goal and got blocked field goals by Nigel Hammond and Shaun Forney in the fourth quarter to preserve the win.

Western Slope standings

Palisade, 5-1 overall, 4-0 in the Western Slope

Glenwood Springs, 5-0, 3-0

Eagle Valley, 4-1, 2-1

Rifle, 3-2, 2-1

Steamboat Springs, 3-2, 2-1

Moffat County, 2-3, 1-3

Delta, 1-4, 1-3

Battle Mountain 1-4, 1-3

Cortez 1-5, 0-4

Season statistics

First Downs 53

Rushes-Yards 173-745

Comp-Att-Int 44-67-4

Yards Passing 577

Total Yards 1,322

Punts-Avg. 23-40

Fumbles-lost 14-8

Penalties-Yards 30-215


Steamboat 14-33-43-24-114

Opponent 35-30-24-47-135



S: Jay Hanley 69-336, 1 TD; Nigel Hammond 36-184, 3 TD; Fraser Egan 11-36; Austin Hinder 43-210, 3 TD; Eric Bonner 6-9; Dylan Pivarnik 2-(-1); Alex Wood 2-(-8); Kevin Stokes 1-(-2).


S: Hinder 43-64-3, 565 yards, 7 TD; Alex Wood 1-3-1, 11 yards.


S: Cody Harris 9-113; Hammond 13-218, 4 TD; Hanley 4-42; Ben DeLine 2-13; Egan 1-4; Matt Lettunich 7-96, 1 TD; Wood 5-69, 2 TD; Cole Krahenbuhl 1-11; Hinder 1-11.

Defense (tackles-sacks)

S: Hammond 70-3; Harris 31-2; Stokes 39-0.5; DeLine 44-2; Lettunich 51-2; Cole Krahenbuhl 23-0; Mac Marsh 32-4; Egan 32-0.5; Graham Geppert 19-0; Hanley 21-3; Wood 12-0; Bonner 4-0; Jasper Gantick 6-0; Carl Steele 2-0; Andrew Houk 3-0; Derek Morris 2-0; Pivarnik 2-0; Jack Spady 1-0; Brandon Gorney 1-0; Mitch Lekarczyk 1-0.