Sailors maintain ‘sense of urgency’ |

Sailors maintain ‘sense of urgency’

Football faces Rifle challenge tonight

Luke Graham

— If Steamboat Springs High School’s football coaches want to know how their team stands for the remainder of the season, today’s game at Rifle will provide a good indication.

For the first time this year, the Sailors are coming off a loss – and it was a defeat in which they were beat in every phase of the game.

Steamboat also is playing in Rifle, where the Bears traditionally have been tough to beat.

“I think we had a hard time getting off the bus and getting going early in that game,” Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said about last week’s 39-14 loss to Palisade. “The guys understand we need to get better. This week is an opportunity to do that.”

In Rifle, Steamboat finds a team rich in tradition. The Bears have reserved a place in the playoffs for more than a decade.

Although Rifle has struggled to a 1-4 overall record and 1-2 record in Western Slope League play, the Bears present some problems for the Sailors.

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Rifle was expected to be led by first-year coach Bill Kucera – who has a state championship as a coach in Nebraska – but because of back surgery, Kucera hasn’t coached a game this season. Defensive coordinator Anthony Alfini has taken the interim role.

Part of Rifle’s problem has been turnovers, but perhaps more concerning is its defense. During five games, Rifle surrendered 40 points a game.

Still, Finch is wary of the matchup. Considering Rifle’s tradition and that the team is playing at home, the Bears automatically are a dangerous opponent.

Adding to the intrigue is that Steamboat sits in third place in the league – the last spot for a guaranteed playoff berth – and Finch said this game holds great importance.

“They are a type of team that makes you very nervous,” Finch said. “If they put it together, they could be a real challenge. They have a great tradition and history. You can never take them lightly.”

Finch is optimistic the Sailors will respond well after the loss to Palisade. With only five weeks left before the end of the regular season, Finch said it’s essential the Sailors treat today as the start of the march to the playoffs.

“Hopefully, we have a sense of urgency,” Finch said. “If we execute and take care of our business, we should be fine. That will be our focus.”

– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail

If you go

What: Steamboat football at Rifle

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Rifle High School

Radio: AM 1230

Last year’s game

Steamboat 42, Rifle 27

Joe Dover ran for 213 yards and two touchdowns to help the Sailors clinch the No. 3 spot in the league.

After the first half saw the two offenses combine for 551 yards and 55 points, Steamboat’s defense shut Rifle out in the second half. In four second-half possessions, Rifle finished with three turnovers and a three-and-out. The Sailors also limited the Bears to 89 yards of offense in the second half.

Western Slope standings

Glenwood Springs 6-0 overall, 4-0 league

Palisade 6-0, 4-0

Steamboat Springs 4-1, 3-1

Moffat County 2-3, 2-2

Rifle 1-4, 1-2

Montezuma-Cortez 2-2, 1-2

Delta 2-3, 1-3

Battle Mountain 0-5, 0-3

Eagle Valley 0-5, 0-3

Sailors season stats

First Downs:

Steamboat: 61

Opponent: 63


Steamboat: 154-976

Opponent: 220-965


Steamboat: 42-81-5

Opponent: 18-64-1

Yards Passing:

Steamboat: 703

Opponent: 271

Total Yards:

Steamboat: 1,679

Opponent: 1,236


Steamboat: 10-37

Opponent: 16-34


Steamboat: 12-4

Opponent: 11-2


Steamboat: 41-315

Opponent: 26-202


Steamboat 49-45-37-28-159

Opponent 29-28-21-14-92



S: Hinder 46-282, 5 TD; Fraser Egan 42-241, 4 TD; Joe Dover 49-413, 5 TD; Charles Wood 5-26, 1 TD; Dustin Siegel 9-44; Cody Harris 1-8; Jasper Gantick 1-(-19).


S: Hinder 42-81-5, 703 yards, 4 TD.


S: Alex Wood 17-361, 4 TD; Cody Harris 6-146; Dover 12-140; Nelson Brassell 3-29; Gantick 1-11; Charles Wood 1-3; Jack Spady 1-3.