Homecoming matchup features two teams looking for first victory | SteamboatToday.com

Homecoming matchup features two teams looking for first victory

Steamboat Springs freshman Tanner Raper pulls in a pass while running through drills at practice Wednesday evening. The Sailors are busy this week preparing to face the Roaring Fork Rams in Friday night's homecoming football game. Steamboat and Roaring Fork will both be looking for the first win of the season.
John F. Russell

— With just four games remaining on the 2016 football schedule, Steamboat Springs head coach Lonn Clementson said Friday night’s showdown with Roaring Fork might just be the biggest game of the season.

“We want to put it all together and have our best game of the season for homecoming this Friday night,” the coach said Wednesday. “Our problem all season has been consistency. We have had problems getting all 11 players doing their specific job for the entire game. We have great kids, and they are playing their hearts out. Some folks will look at the win-loss column and make a snap judgment, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.”

The story isn’t much different on the other side of the field, where the Roaring Fork Rams have come close to a victory but are still looking for the first win of 2016.

“This is big in that if we lose this game we are done, we will just be playing out the season,” coach Jeff Kelley said. “If we are as good as we think we are, then we are good enough to compete and win the next three games. If that happens our final game of the season will be at home against Basalt — a team that was one of the teams picked to win the league. If we can do that then our destiny is in our own hands.”

The Roaring Fork coach has looked at the schedule and sized up the opponents. He feels like a four-game run at this point is still possible.

“It’s every team’s goal to win the league at the start of the season,” Kelley said. “That’s what our kids are working for, and it’s early enough that it could still happen.”

But to do it, the Rams will need to get past the Sailors in Steamboat. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. Friday, and the Sailors are sure to be pumped up for the homecoming showdown.

Clementson isn’t looking for league titles at this point but he is hoping the Sailors, who have struggled this season, can turn a corner. He said inconsistency has hurt the team at crucial times, including the team’s 49-0 loss to Basalt last week. In that game, the Sailors gave up 21 points in the second quarter and made key mistakes that resulted in points for the other team.

“We might be in it for the first quarter, but then we let things get away from us,” Clementson said. “We’ve been working really hard this week to clean up our mistakes, and we are optimistic that will payoff this Friday.”

The Sailors will face a team that understands the struggles that come with losing. In the first four games this season, a banged-up Roaring Fork team has been outscored 149-41.

The team lost its starting quarterback Hayden Bernot in the first quarter of the team’s first game this season. He returned last week and helped spark his team to a solid performance in a 36-33 loss to Moffat County.

Steamboat and Roaring Fork have both played Battle Mountain this season. The Sailors lost 24-7 in the first game of the season, and Roaring Fork fell to the Huskies the following week 13-7.

Clementson expects the Rams to come into Gardner Field ready to play.

The Steamboat coach said the key to winning will be stopping drives and limiting Roaring Fork’s ability to create big plays — something that Steamboat couldn’t seem to do against Basalt last weekend.

That means that Steamboat’s defense will need to stop Aldo Pinela, who led the Rams last week against Moffat County, averaging just over 8 yards per carry. The Roaring Fork back finished the night with 111 yards on 13 carries.

Steamboat will also need to contain Bernot, who has proven he can create big plays. Last week, he completed just three of his 12 pass attempts, but the Rams managed to collect 160 yards against the Bulldogs on those pass completions.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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