High School sports preview, Oct. 20 to Oct. 22
Steamboat Springs — 6 p.m. Thursday Steamboat (11-3) at Battle Mountain (12-2)
It’s all on the line for the Sailors as they head to Battle Mountain. The game’s winner will secure the Western Slope League championship. The Huskies will be looking for the sweep against Steamboat for the fifth consecutive season. They won the first matchup against the two teams, 3-0, picking up two crucial goals on corner kicks.
That game was the first in a two-game skid for the Sailors, but they’ve been rock solid ever since, winning their last five games by a combined score of 26-2. Battle Mountain has been tough as well. That win against Steamboat kicked off an eight-game winning streak that the team is hoping to carry into the postseason.
6:30 p.m. Thursday Steamboat (8-11) at Summit (6-9)
1 p.m. Saturday Steamboat at Glenwood Springs (8-9)
The Sailors have already beaten both teams they’ll see this weekend, but beating them both one more time is crucial for the squad.
Steamboat’s currently slotted in at 30th in Class 4A. That’s good enough to get the squad into regionals, which includes the top 36 teams, but a slip this weekend could change that math and leave the Sailors on the bubble.
If they do make it in, they’d be at the bottom of the pile, going on the road to a regional to play one of the top teams in the state. How valuable would such a trip really be? Very, said coach Wendy Hall. The experience alone would be critical for a young team like Steamboat’s, plus, there’s always the opportunity to pull off a huge surprise and advance. Thanks to being on the “surprised” side of such a Cinderella story a year ago, Steamboat’s well aware that such a run is possible.
7 p.m. Friday Steamboat (0-7) at Aspen (1-6)
The Sailors have every chance in the final two weeks of the season to pick up a win. Both Friday’s opponent, Aspen, and next week’s, Coal Ridge, have had rough seasons, each team winning just one game.
The opportunity’s definitely there, but Steamboat won’t be in any position to seize it if it can’t generate offense. The Sailors have struggled mightily to move the ball, averaging just more than 100 yards per game of offense and 2.2 yards per carry rushing. The team did well to slow down Moffat County’s attack last week, especially in the first half. Such strong defensive efforts only means so much, however, if the offense doesn’t score.
7 p.m. Friday Soroco (5-2) at West Grand (6-1)
The Rams couldn’t stop Plateau Valley when it mattered the most last week, picking up their first league loss of the season. That defeat didn’t ruin their chances for a league championship, however, and this weekend’s game against the league’s top team still retains all the importance of a title fight.
Allowing long third- and fourth-down conversions hurt the Rams last week, but the team’s stalled offense was perhaps more of a concern. The squad didn’t win the battle on the line, or at least not often enough, and that kept the team’s powerful running game from taking the game over. That matchup on the offensive and defensive line will decide the game in West Grand, too.
5 p.m. Friday Soroco (9-9) at West Grand (12-4)
The Rams faced and won their “must-win” games last week, so Friday’s matchup against a tough squad of Mustangs doesn’t bear quite the weight those matches did. A win isn’t likely to move Soroco up the league standings, nor is a loss likely to move it down.
Still, the trip to West Grand offers a huge opportunity to beat a quality team on the eve of the district tournament. The Mustangs are a hard hitting, senior-heavy squad, and it would be a huge boost to Soroco to hang in for a long match or a win.
4:30 p.m. Friday Hayden (3-12) vs. North Park (5-11)
1 p.m. Saturday Hayden vs. Plateau Valley (5-11)
Friday’s game is out of districts, but a win Saturday could help the Tigers climb one spot in the district standings. Still, both games are important for a team that’s been oh-so-close late this season to pulling off head-turning victories.
Hayden opened its season losing eight of its first nine sets but has taken at least one from each of its last three opponents and pushed its two more recent foes, Soroco and Vail Christian, all the way to five sets. That’s a strong in-season turnaround for the team. The one thing missing is a win, and both North Park and Plateau Valley are mediocre enough teams that Hayden should have a shot.
7 p.m. Friday Hayden (3-4) at Plateau Valley (3-3)
The Tigers have moved the ball fine between the 20s all season, but their offensive acumen has disappeared inside the red zone. They’ll need to find it to have a shot at knocking off Plateau Valley.
The Cowboys picked up their best win of the season last week by going to Oak Creek to beat Soroco. They did it thanks to the one-two punch of Marlon Castillo and Layne Christensen. They took turns taking snaps and took turns breaking off big plays. Beating Plateau Valley has to start with stopping them. After that, the Tigers’ offense needs to find a way to finish drives.
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