Steamboat defense rises to the challenge |

Steamboat defense rises to the challenge

Luke Graham

— With the way the Steamboat Springs offense had been playing, the defense almost had become an afterthought.

That certainly changed Friday night against Glenwood Springs.

The best performance of the year for the Sailors defense came in the team’s 25-20 loss at Glenwood Springs.

Sure, the Sailors gave up 25 points and 349 yards of total offense – but that doesn’t tell really tell the story.

Playing against one of the state’s top offenses in Glenwood Springs, Steamboat’s defense easily gave Glenwood its toughest game of the year.

Demons quarterback Dakota Stonehouse came into the game completing 72 percent of his passes and averaging 220 yards and three touchdowns a game.

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Friday, Stonehouse completed 43 percent of his passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns to go along with an interception.

“I can’t say enough how (defensive coordinator Lonn) Clementson approached the game and what weaknesses were there,” Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said. “We made it a tough go for them.”

Considering the Sailors defense forced two turnovers, a turnover on downs and four “three-and-outs” against a Demons team that had been averaging 40 points per game, Finch said the Sailors had every opportunity to win the tough contest.

“Going into the game, we felt as a staff if we could hold them to three touchdowns, we’d have a really good chance to beat them,” Finch said.

Steamboat certainly had its chances. But after the offense scored on two of its first three possessions, things didn’t go well for Steamboat.

Two missed field goals and three second half turnovers stopped Steamboat’s upset bid.

Still, Finch said with the way the defense played and with the way the offense is capable of playing, Steamboat should feel good about where the team stands now.

With Rifle coming to town Friday in a game that most likely will determine the No. 3 seed out of the Western Slope League, Finch said it’s another tough game as the season winds down.

But knowing where the defense is, and what the offense can do, has Finch smiling heading into the biggest game of the year.

“It’s a big game,” Finch said. “When you’re headed toward the playoffs, you want to go in with momentum. If you’re able to beat teams like Rifle, you believe you can be successful.”

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