Steamboat Springs football team loses season finale |

Steamboat Springs football team loses season finale

Luke Graham

— There isn't much questioning the strength of football in the Western Slope League.

After the 16-team playoff bracket is unveiled on Sunday, it's feasible four teams from the Western Slope will dot the field.

The question then remains, how good is Delta?

The little known town is often overshadowed in 3A. But with a ho-hum 35-0 win against Steamboat Springs on Friday, the Panthers secured second place in the league and are almost assured moving up from 13th in the Wild Card standings.

"You get into the playoffs and a lot of it's matchups," Delta coach Ben Johnson said. "We like our kids. Offense and defense, we will go play hard."

That sums up a dangerous Panthers team. After stumbling out of the gates, outside of Rifle maybe no team has been more impressive.

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Delta loss to Rifle 21-0 last week, the closest any team has come to the undefeated Bears.

The number 21 jumps out. It was more than 22 points lower than Rifle's season average.

That nasty defense was on display Friday. The Panthers held the Sailors to 168 yards of total offense, controlled the clock and won the field possession battle.

After jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first half, the Panthers didn't have to do anything special on offense.

The back breaking job came to open the second half. Delta went 66 yards in five plays — all runs — to take a 21-0 lead.

"They're great against the run and their pass coverage is good," Steamboat coach Lonn Clementson said. "Some days the person across from you is bigger, faster and stronger. We ran into that tonight and a lot these last couple of years."

The Panthers added two fourth quarter touchdowns for the end result.

Zach Decker had 114 yards on 16 carries, while quarterback Mitchel Whiteside threw for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Whiteside had two more touchdowns running.

Mitch McCannon led Steamboat with 60 yards on nine carries.

Football became secondary late in the third quarter, when Sailors wide receiver Skyler Kauf was taken off the field in an ambulance after getting tackled. Kauf gave the thumbs up before entering the ambulance.

"Skyler's going to be OK," Clementson said. "As far as I know he's going to do well."

The win puts Delta at 7-3 overall as the team waits for its playoff positioning. Steamboat ends the season 4-6, with 12 seniors departing the field for the final time.

"I just love the fact they can't wait to see us succeed," Clementson said. "The seniors are all about what people should strive to be."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email