Sailors battle for top ranking
Team looks to Palisade game
First Downs: Steamboat 54, Opponent 48
Rushes-Yards: Steamboat 129-912, Opponent 165-621
Comp-Att-Int: Steamboat 29-58-5, Opponent 14-57-1
Yards Passing: Steamboat 622, Opponent 197
Total Yards: Steamboat 1,534, Opponent 818
Punts-Avg.: Steamboat 1,534, Opponent 13-34
Fumbles-lost: Steamboat 8-3, Opponent 7-1
Penalties-Yards: Steamboat 33-260, Opponent 15-129
SCORE BY QUARTERS
S: Hinder 34-302, 5 TD; Fraser Egan 37-175, 3 TD; Joe Dover 43-403, 5 TD; Charles Wood 5-26, 1 TD; Dustin Siegel 7-35; Cody Harris 1-8; Jasper Gantick 1-(-19).
S: Hinder 29-58-5, 622 yards, 3 TD.
S: Wood 15-353, 3 TD; Cody Harris 5-122; Dover 5-107; Nelson Brassell 3-29; Gantick 1-11.
Steamboat Springs — The vibe around the Steamboat Springs High School football team is good right now.
Steamboat is 4-0 overall, 3-0 in the Western Slope League and is coming off its best performance of the season Friday, when the team thumped Eagle Valley, 35-14.
The offense has become more settled and is as dangerous as ever. The defense is giving up just more than 200 yards of offense a game and the character of the team seems to be taking shape.
In reality, it couldn’t have happened at a better time.
Steamboat travels to Palisade on Thursday for what won’t just be the game of the week in the league, but more than likely, in the state.
The Sailors and Bulldogs are in the top 5 of Class 3A, with some outlets listing Palisade as high as No. 2 and Steamboat No. 4.
“It’s huge,” Steamboat quarterback Austin Hinder said about Thursday’s game. “Next week will be huge. It’s going to be a war. It’s going to be one of the most fun games, rough games and violent games. It’s going to be a great game.”
Palisade comes into the game unblemished on the season, having outscored their opponents, 172-50, through five games. The Bulldogs feature a backfield as deep as Steamboat’s, with seniors Zach Adair and Aaron Wagler. Add in backup running back Travis Fehlman, and it’s no wonder most people think Palisade has a very good chance at winning a state title.
“We know we have to play our most physical game of the year to have a chance,” Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said. “The guys know that and we have a short week. They have a short week, too. We’ll be ready to get down there and make it the best game we can. But they’re very deserving of their ranking.”
Still, Finch said after Friday’s win he’s about as confident as he’s been all year. Offensively, Steamboat showed the team could maintain a drive and churn out first downs. The big-play potential still is there on every snap, but when the Sailors needed to sustain a drive, they were also able to do that Friday.
Much of that ability likely speaks to the development of Hinder.
After two shaky games to open the season, the junior has looked good the past two games, throwing for more than 370 yards.
“You start out at the beginning of the year with the mindset you have to score on every play,” Hinder said. “Early, it was I had to be perfect. I came back to reality. Now, it’s let’s just play football.”
The Sailors will certainly need both sides of the ball to show up Thursday, in a game that will make one team not only a favorite to win a league title, but a serious contender for a state title.
“It puts us in a position to challenge for bigger goals beyond the playoffs,” Finch said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re in a position where this game has some big meaning for both teams. One of us will fall out of the top tier of the league. Those are fun games, no matter what the outcome is.”
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