Sailors’ injuries hurt more than loss |

Sailors’ injuries hurt more than loss

Melinda Mawdsley

High school football players are supposed to leave the field on the shoulders of their teammates — or at least on a school bus. They are not supposed to leave in an ambulance, and so the only huddle the Steamboat Springs football team could muster after a tough 28-22 loss to Arvada on Saturday was a makeshift huddle around injured teammates Daniel Coloccia.

Coloccia’s injury was unknown as he left the North Area Athletic Complex, but the sirens that were blaring as the ambulance arrived at the stadium near Golden were silent as it left the track.

While the Sailors were visibly affected by the loss, Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said the players and coaches were more concerned about the health of Coloccia, a senior who returned to Steamboat this season after spending a couple of years going to school and playing hockey in Denver.

Even more unfortunate for Steamboat is that Coloccia wasn’t the only Sailors player injured, possible seriously, in Saturday’s game. Senior Tyler Fosdick, a 145-pound quarterback who plays like he’s 235 pounds, took a hard shot to his head in the closing seconds of Saturday’s loss, as he hung in the pocket to try to create one big play for the win.

Instead, he was left with a broken facemask and busted up chin.

“That shot Tyler took was a clean hit, but it’s one that scares you as a coach,” Finch said.

Fosdick was up and walking around after the game. Though he was still dizzy from the hit, he had enough energy to be upset that the Sailors lost their season opener. Five turnovers, several big plays from the Reds and some ill-timed penalties and bad snaps were to blame for the final score.

“We need to work the kinks out,” Fosdick said. “It’s nothing really big. It’s the little things. … I think we need to work harder.”

Effort was something Finch said he had seen so much of in the opening weeks of practice.

“Our motto for this game was, ‘the next play,'” he said. “The first game, you are going to make mistakes. The number is frustrating because I know how hard these guys have worked. It was a close game. No mistakes, and we beat them.”

Probably. The Reds scored all 14 of their first-half points off Steamboat turnovers. Despite the miscues, the Sailors held a slim 16-14 halftime lead, partially thanks to the poise of the team’s veterans.

After Kyle Shinkle picked off Fosdick’s first throw of the game, which was deflected, the Reds took less than two minutes to score. But Steamboat came back on its next possession, driving 77 yards to even the score. The Sailors mixed in a few carries from senior Brad Bonner with a couple of passes, including a 13-yard completion to Coloccia on third down.

Steamboat got its first touchdown of the season with 4 minutes, 10 seconds left in the first quarter when Fosdick connected on a 34-yard completion to senior Charlie Pappas. The pair hooked up again on what may have been the best play of the game from either side.

With less than 10 seconds left in the second quarter, Fosdick was forced to scramble to his left. From the line of scrimmage, the senior lineman ran back toward his quarterback and smacked an Arvada defensive lineman so hard the Reds’ player went airborne, allowing Fosdick to stop, plant his feet and make the across-the-body throw to a wide-open Pappas in the right corner of the end zone.

“I felt like we were lucky we were ahead at halftime with all the mistakes we made,” Fosdick said.

Fosdick converted both extra points following the touchdown strikes to Pappas. Steamboat’s other first-half points came on a safety after a bad snap that sailed over the Arvada punter and out of the end zone.

Except for a few big plays from Arvada’s passing game, Steamboat’s defense, which showed off its new 3-5 scheme, played relatively well. Led by linebackers Clay McKenzie (13 tackles and one sack), Pappas (seven tackles) and senior lineman Chris Baumann (seven tackles), Steamboat held Arvada’s ground game in check, particularly around the goal line.

The Sailors cushioned their 16-14 lead mid-way through the third quarter off a 6-yard run from Bonner on a third-and-goal. Bonner led Steamboat with 48 yards on 17 carries, but the Sailors rushed for an abysmal 2 yards as a team.

Most of the negative yardage came from the 13 times Fosdick was dragged down in the backfield, a number that must decrease if the Sailors plan to win games and keep their starting quarterback, safety, placekicker and punt returner healthy.

“We are one deep,” Fosdick said. “We don’t have a second team really.”

Nearly every Steamboat starter played every snap of Saturday’s game, a statistic not uncommon at smaller schools, but the Sailors are a 3A squad. Arvada, which is a 4A school, has eight players who go both ways, coach Bob Bozied said.

The difference between the Reds’ season-opening loss and Saturday’s win was the differential in turnovers and their ability to execute on offense, led mostly by the emergence of third-string quarterback Johnnie Abeyta. He led Arvada to the come-from-behind win in the fourth quarter.

“He didn’t take one snap this week,” Bozied said. “He got it done.”

Steamboat has little time to sulk. It hosts defending 3A champion and league favorite Palisade at 7 p.m. Friday at Gardner Field at the Steamboat Springs High School.

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