Sailor football hopes to carry momentum into Friday’s home opener
Sailor football schedule
Aug. 28 @ Moffat County, 27-0 L
Sept. 11 @ Aspen, 7-6 W
Friday vs. Battle Mountain, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 vs. Delta*
Oct. 3 @ Grand Junction Central*
Oct. 9 vs. Palisade*
Oct. 16 @ Eagle Valley*
Oct. 23 vs. Rifle*
Oct. 30 vs. Summit*
Nov. 6 @ Glenwood Springs*
*indicates league games
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs High School football team made a giant leap from its first game to its second. But as the opposition continues to fine-tune its operation, SSHS coach Lonn Clementson hopes the Sailors understand they need to follow suit.
“We need to improve even more into this game. There are no easy opponents,” Clementson said. “Battle Mountain is a good football team. We are going to have to play our best football and compete with them for four quarters.”
SSHS (1-1) will host Battle Mountain (1-1) at 7 p.m. Friday on Gardner Field in Steamboat, the Sailors’ first home game of the young season. Battle Mountain is coming off a 21-7 loss to Eagle Valley after defeating Middle Park in its first game, 50-14.
Last season, Steamboat beat Battle Mountain in Edwards, 24-14.
“It’s always a great team to play,” Sailor senior lineman Jake Crouch said of Battle Mountain. “Playing that Zero Week game was a little bit different for us. But we came together that next bye week, and we put it together. We found out what we did wrong, and we fixed it for Aspen.”
The Sailors are coming off a surprising 7-6 win at Aspen, a team that had been 2-0 entering the contest. On the flip side, Steamboat opened its season with a 27-0 loss at Moffat County in Zero Week, but managed to regroup with a bye week between its first and second games.
“That extra week really helped us,” said junior quarterback/defensive back Matthew Hansen. “We didn’t want to start off the season 0-2, so everyone buckled down. The seniors did great leading and showing how to practice hard.”
Moffat County simply wore down an undermanned Steamboat team in that first game, but the Sailors found a way to flip the script against Aspen. The Skiers scored first, capitalizing on a fumbled kickoff return by senior Joe DeLine, but a failed 2-point conversion would ultimately ruin them.
A DeLine touchdown run late in the first half was followed by a successful DeLine extra point attempt and a 7-6 halftime lead. The second half was about the Sailor defense, which saw neither team add points to the scoreboard en route to Steamboat’s first win of the season.
“That was a huge win for us. We really played together in that game, came together as a team,” Crouch said. “We knew we had to buckle down. We knew we had to play better than we did. We came together as a team. We knew our assignments, and we did our jobs. The team played great together and that’s the result we get from it.”
While the Sailors’ offense has only accounted for seven points this season, the general feeling is there is nothing to worry about. Clementson was pleased with that side of the ball against Aspen and is excited about the offense under the direction of new offensive coordinator Shawn Baumgartner, former head coach at Hayden.
Hansen and sophomore Payton McElhiney will continue to share snaps at quarterback for SSHS this week, though Clementson hinted that expected senior starter Zach Holm could return next week. The reason for his absence hasn’t been made public.
Two games into the season, however, it’s been DeLine’s workhorse nature at running back that has literally carried the offense.
“Joe has worked hard, but he hasn’t done it alone. None of us can do anything alone,” Clementson said. “I think a ton of progress has been made offensively. If you look at the total numbers, the first week, we had a hard time protecting the ball. The second week, we were able to protect the ball, and the offensive line did a great job overall giving our running backs lanes to run in.”
Following Battle Mountain, SSHS will host Delta on Sept. 25 in its league opener before traveling to Grand Junction Central on Oct. 3.
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