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Sailors back on top

Friday was payback time for the Steamboat Springs football seniors.

Sailor Kris Gayer remembers the Moffat County Bulldogs taking the league title away from his eighth-grade team. Though it took four years for Steamboat to avenge that defeat, the Sailors 22-12 victory in Craig on Friday night appeared worth the wait for the Sailors seniors.

“To come back and steal it back is amazing,” Gayer said.



Steamboat’s win moved the Sailors into the top spot in the Western Slope and assured them a high seed heading into the playoffs. Steamboat’s last regular season game is on Halloween night against non-league opponent Battle Mountain in Minturn

At 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the league, it isn’t as if the Sailors should surprise anyone anymore, but coach Mark Drake repeatedly leaves the field after wins struggling to find words to explain what it’s like to be with this team.



Friday was no different.

“In 1979, when we won the state championship we had some awesome talent,” Drake said, while walking to the visitor’s locker room after the game.

Then he stopped.

“Not that this team doesn’t have talent; it does,” Drake continued. “But they have heart like I’ve never seen. They are the most outstanding bunch of kids.”

Last season, Moffat County came to Steamboat and left on the winning end of a 14-13 overtime score, clinching the third league spot to shut the Sailors out of the playoffs. This year’s seniors watched their older teammates linger on the football field in disbelief that a season could end in such disappointment.

“I knew we weren’t going to have a season like last year,” senior Chris Dombey said. “I think coach Drake knows that we wouldn’t have let what happened last year happen this year.”

Heading into the final week of the season, all Steamboat can do now is await the outcome of a Friday game between Moffat County and Palisade, which will determine the final standings and set the playoff spots.

Steamboat can go to Battle Mountain on Friday relaxed because that game has no league bearing. It also could be a chance for Drake to rest some players who have spent the past month or so on ice during the weekends.

Junior Brad Bonner has been a game-time decision since the beginning of October, but he’s played in every game. Though the first play of Friday’s game against the Bulldogs had no bearing in the outcome, it certainly set the tone.

Drake called for a screen pass to the left side that went for 44 yards. It was the perfect play. The Bulldogs brought nearly everyone at quarterback David May, looking for a quick sack and early momentum. Instead, the Sailors line let the Bulldogs rush. May dumped it off to Bonner. Bonner caught the ball and turned to find a wall of red and white to block for him, as he darted 44 yards down the side line, the one directly in front of Moffat County’s coaches, players and fans.

The Sailors scored a few plays later. The Bulldogs didn’t score until the fourth quarter.

“This is a great win,” May said. “To us seniors, it means a lot.”


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