Sailor football shutout by Bulldogs in season opener
Craig — If everything had gone perfectly for the Steamboat Springs High School football team Friday night in Craig, there wouldn’t be anything for the coaches to talk about today. As it was, there was nothing perfect about SSHS’s 27-0 season-opening loss to Moffat County, so the Sailor coaching staff knows it has lots of work ahead.
“This is not the end of the season,” Steamboat coach Lonn Clementson said. “This is the beginning of the season, and our job as coaches is to teach how to come back from this. We’ll watch film tomorrow morning, and we’ll put it to bed, and we’ll get better.”
Without a couple of key players, including senior captain Connor Frasier, who was still nursing a lacrosse injury, it was a tough road for Steamboat at the Bulldog Proving Grounds. The offense struggled to move the ball, although it had its chances, especially in the first half.
Sailor defensive back Payton McElhiney intercepted Bulldog running back Brett Loyd on a flea flicker attempt on the game’s first play from scrimmage, but the SSHS offense was forced to eventually punt from inside the Bulldogs’ 35-yard line.
Steamboat’s second possession ended with a blocked field goal, the third an interception, the fourth a fumble, and the fifth and final of the half, a missed 49-yard field goal attempt by senior Joe DeLine.
Moffat County led 7-0 at the half via a 6-yard touchdown run by Eddie Smercina late in the second quarter.
“We just ended up making a few too many mistakes,” Clementson said. “We are still very optimistic, and we have a bye week next week. We are here to teach kids how to improve and how to respond to tough situations like this.”
The game got away from Steamboat in the third quarter, when Moffat County went up 14-0 on a 4-yard run by Loyd. The score became 20-0 when Smercina broke loose for a 70-yard run just a few minutes later.
The Bulldogs continued to grind into the fourth, scoring their final touchdown on an 8-yard run by quarterback Keenan Hildebrandt. The Sailors found a little momentum on their final drive but eventually turned the ball over on downs with less than a minute to play.
“They made fewer mistakes than we did,” Clementson said. “We saw some good things from some kids. The nice thing is, we got a bunch of live special teams, which, I’ve said before, is really important. We have to be ironman football players.”
With this week having been “Zero Week,” Steamboat (0-1) will have a bye next week. The Sailors’ next game will be Sept. 11 at Aspen, with their home opener coming the following week against Battle Mountain at Gardner Field.
Moffat County plays host to Rifle next Friday.
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