Sailors to welcome Bulldogs |

Sailors to welcome Bulldogs

Christine Metz

— After a convincing 43-13 win in Glenwood Springs Friday night, Steamboat Springs quickly forgot about the opponent in which it had just crushed.

The Sailors’ minds were already focused on this week’s game the biggest game of the season the Palisade Bulldogs at home.

Last year, the Sailors lost by just three points to the Bulldogs in Palisade.

With each team boasting identical overall (4-0) and league (1-0) records this year, the stage is set for another big showdown.

“(The Glenwood game) felt good. We were up a lot from the last couple of games. (But) Palisade is next,” said the Sailors’ Zach Forcum following last week’s game in Glenwood. Forcum was Steamboat’s lead tackler against the Demons.

His teammate, quarterback Tanner Barr, had a similar response.

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“(Tonight) we were a lot better then we have been,” Barr said. “But, we’re thinking Palisade all next week.”

This Friday’s homecoming matchup will feature the league’s lone 4-0 teams.

“We’re real excited about it,” Sailors coach Mark Drake said. “We’re going in 4-0 and 4-0. It just should be a solid and great high school football game.”

Ranked as No. 4 in the state by the Rocky Mountain News, Palisade has not lost a game this season.

The Bulldogs have outscored their opponents, two of which were 4A schools, by a margin of 102 to 63.

From last year’s league championship team, the Bulldogs are returning seven offensive and five defensive players, including their leading running back Chad Kelly and quarterback Josh Roseberry.

“(Palisade is) predicted to win the league. It’s going to be quite a challenge for the kids,” Drake said. “We have to play a good, sound game; we can’t make errors or mistakes. But we can give them all that they can handle.”

In its league opener this past weekend, Palisade was given a scare against Delta, which fell short of upsetting the Bulldogs after a 31-26 defeat.

The Bulldogs gained a sizeable lead early in the game, but the Panthers, ranked sixth in the league and winless on the season, came back in the second half to make it a close game.

“They gave them a good, sound ball game. It showed (Palisade) is not invincible,” Drake said.

Drake’s No. 1 concern is the Bulldogs putting up big numbers, which keeps the starting players well rested and gives the second- and third-stringers more experience.

With a couple of key Steamboat players questionable for Friday’s game vs. Palisade’s well-rested lineup could be a big factor in the ball game.

The matchup with Glenwood left Steamboat hurting. Fullback Tim Higbee is bothered by persistent headaches, tackle Will Zimmerer has a sprained ankle, tackle Steve Mahosky has a hip injury and defensive safety and backup quarterback Joel Adams has a broken finger and sore knee.

The Sailors are expecting the Bulldogs to run a 4-4 defense and an offense that utilizes both an I-formation and split-back set.

Leading the Palisade offense will be Kelly, who has rushed for 273 yards in the Bulldogs’ first three games against Grand Junction Central, Montrose and Florence.

The Bulldogs amassed 646 rushing yards and 446 passing yards in the same three games.

Roseberry returns as quarterback and has found receivers Jesse Campos, Kelly and Mark Widegreen to help him complete 17 passes for 311 yards.

Not only will the Sailors have the spark of homecoming going into the game, but they also want to erase the memory of a close 36-33 loss on the Bulldogs’ turf in 2000.

“Last year, we should have beaten them,” defensive end Mike Radford said.

“(Palisade players) said it was the toughest game of the season.”

With homecoming happening and home field advantage, Radford said the Sailors chances are good this year.