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Sailor football pushed aside by Delta on homecoming

Delta's Jonny Ponce breaks free for a long touchdown run early in Friday's game against Steamboat Springs at Gardner Field. Delta won 49-0 on homecoming night for the Sailors.
Austin Colbert

SSHS football schedule

Aug. 28 @ Moffat County, 27-0 Loss

Sept. 11 @ Aspen, 7-6 Win

Sept. 18 vs. Battle Mountain, 14-10 Win

Sept. 25 vs. Delta, 49-0 Loss

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

— Once it started, the Steamboat Springs High School football team could do little to stop the onslaught of points put on them by visiting Delta Friday night at Gardner Field.

“They did what they needed to do, and once they broke the seal, so to speak, they really took it to us,” SSHS football coach Lonn Clementson said. “They just executed well, and they knew what they wanted to do. They were able to find weaknesses in our defense.”

After their first drive stalled due to penalties, the Panthers would finish their next six possessions in the end zone as they cruised to the 49-0 win over SSHS on homecoming night for the Sailors. It was the first game of league play for both teams.



“We started off a little sloppy, but then we got a little momentum going, and the kids started to make some plays,” Delta coach Ben Johnson said. “They came out real strong, I thought, and did a very nice job. We were just able to get momentum and get going a little bit.”

The teams swapped punts to open the game, and on Delta’s second possession, Panther junior quarterback Kole Roberts found junior Beau Byers on a 58-yard strike to make it 7-0. Steamboat went three-and-out on its next possession, after which a Brendan Atchley punt return for a touchdown gave Delta a 14-0 advantage.



Delta pushed its lead to 21-0 when Panther senior Jonny Ponce broke free for a 40-yard touchdown run as time expired in the first quarter.

“We had some things going,” Clementson said. “We started the game really well, but we had a lack of focus and started not executing.”

After a promising start, the Sailor offense never got rolling. Senior quarterback Zach Holm made his season debut for Steamboat, but suffered an apparent ankle injury early in the game. Clementson doesn’t think the injury is severe, but it still kept Holm from returning to the game.

Sophomore Payton McElhiney and junior Matthew Hansen did their best to fill in under center, but the Delta defense refused to let the Sailors get on the board.

“I thought the defense did a nice job,” Johnson said. “Steamboat does some nice things, and they got some good kids. I thought we tackled well in space and kept the quarterback contained a little bit.”

Delta added 21 more points in the second quarter. Scoring plays included an 11-yard TD pass from Roberts to Kory Mills, an 18-yard run by Ponce and a 12-yard pass from Roberts to Tristan Brown. Delta led 42-0 at halftime, and the entire second half was played with a running clock.

The Panthers’ final score came midway through the third quarter on a 17-yard run by Ponce, who finished with 110 yards on nine carries.

Steamboat’s best scoring chance came in the fourth quarter after a fumble recovery in Delta territory. The Sailors got as far as Delta’s 25-yard line before an interception ended any final hope of getting on the board.

“Delta is a quality football team. We knew that coming in,” Clementson said. “I did think we would be able to play more to our potential, but all the credit goes to Coach Johnson and that program.”

With the win, Delta goes to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in Western Slope league play. The Sailors drop to 2-2, 0-1. Other league scores Friday included Grand Junction Central rolling Glenwood Springs, 46-6, Rifle shutting out Eagle Valley 26-0 and Palisade beating Summit County, 49-6.

Steamboat’s next game is Oct. 3 at Grand Junction Central (3-1).

“Central is tough, and as I told my kids, it doesn’t get any easier,” Clementson said. “Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We just got to respond, and we have a week to do that and give Central our best shot.”

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert


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