Steamboat loses to No. 1 Glenwood Springs, 25-20 |

Steamboat loses to No. 1 Glenwood Springs, 25-20

Luke Graham

Steamboat's Jasper Gantick, right, manages to swat the ball out of the hands of Glenwood's Bennett Nicola while both are in the air in the end zone, not allowing Glenwood to get the two-point conversion during Friday night's game. The Sailors lost, 25-20.

— If Class 3A No.1 Glenwood Springs is the measuring stick in high school football, the Steamboat Springs team wasn’t too far off Friday night.

In fact – for a team coming into the season with more questions than answers – Friday’s 25-20 loss in Glenwood Springs showed a lot about the Sailors.

It showed they could play with the top team in the state.

It showed on any given night, Steamboat can probably play with any team.

Unfortunately, the loss also showed that the young Sailors team still needs to learn how to avoid mistakes, especially when it’s against a team the caliber of the Demons.

Primed for an upset, Steamboat missed two field goals – both which would have given the Sailors the lead – and had three second-half fumbles that thwarted potential scoring drives.

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“I think you have these character games,” Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said. “This could potentially be one. We know we can play with the No. 1 team in the state right now. We played with them and made more mistakes than they did. This is one we can build on.”

Right from the start, it was evident Steamboat was ready to play.

After forcing a fumble on Glenwood’s first drive of the game, Steamboat used only one play to take an early 7-0 lead.

Sailors quarterback Austin Hinder found Alex Wood over the middle of the field for a 33-yard strike.

“The last game it seemed like Austin was looking for me a lot,” said Wood, who finished the game with five catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. “We knew the whole week with my motions, I was going to be open. That was a play we just put in” Thursday.

Glenwood came right back on the next drive and quarterback Dakota Stonehouse ran in from 10 yards.

After both teams were forced to punt, Steamboat put together its most impressive drive of the night.

Using seven plays – all runs – and covering 80 yards, the Sailors moved the ball down the field before Jay Hanley took it in from 4 yards out to give Steamboat a 14-7 lead.

Glenwood cut the lead to 14-10 on a Taylor Parsons field goal, before Stonehouse found Kevin Screen from 5-yards outs to put the Demons up 16-14.

Steamboat got the ball back with 37 seconds left in the half and moved the ball into field goal range.

That’s when things started going wrong for the Sailors.

First, Ben DeLine’s 41-yard attempt sailed just wide left. Then, on the opening drive of the second half, DeLine’s kick was tipped at the line of scrimmage and went right of the post.

After a Glenwood field goal pushed the score to 19-14, Steamboat moved the ball down to the Glenwood 20-yard line after a 54-yard Joe Dover run.

But two plays later, Hinder was sacked and stripped of the ball, wiping out the Sailors opportunity.

Still down six, Wood picked off Stonehouse, giving Steamboat the ball at its own 46-yard line.

Seemingly with the momentum, Steamboat couldn’t get anything going and had to punt. Then, in a sign of the game, the Steamboat defense forced a Glenwood 3-and-out, only to have the ball squirt through Nigel Hammond’s hands on the ensuing punt giving Glenwood the ball at the Steamboat 40-yard line.

Stonehouse then found Connor Riley from 18-yards out giving Glenwood a 25-14 advantage.

Steamboat, however, wasn’t done.

After Glenwood missed a field goal, Steamboat drove down the field and Hinder found Hammond from 16-yards out to cut the Glenwood lead to 25-20 with 25 seconds remaining in the game.

Unfortunately, the ensuing onside kick didn’t take the bounce the Sailors were looking for, and one Stonehouse knee later the game was over.

“We stuck it in there on them, we just had way too many errors,” Hammond said. “You can’t win with big errors like that. We came in and stuck it to the No. 1 team in the state. We just couldn’t punch it in when we needed to.”

Although the loss makes it a little tougher for the Sailors to make the playoffs, Finch said a lot of good things came out of the game.

Such as the Steamboat defense.

Stonehouse came into the game lighting up defenses around the state. Friday he had his toughest night of the year.

“Steamboat is by far the best team we’ve played all year,” Stonehouse said. “They’re an awesome team.”

Steamboat next plays at 7 p.m. at home against Rifle on Friday.