Steamboat football faces rival Moffat County |

Steamboat football faces rival Moffat County

Sailors hope to end season by ending Bulldogs’ playoff hopes

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs High School senior Christian Ramirez looks for an open teammate during the Oct. 1 game against Delta. Steamboat plays at 7 p.m. today at Moffat County High School.

— It's never hard to find motivation when playing your natural rival, but for a winless Steamboat Springs High School football team, today's game could set several things in motion.

A win at the 7 p.m. game today at Moffat County High School would start the offseason right. But more immediate, with a win tonight, Steamboat would all but eliminate Moffat's chances of making the Class 3A playoffs.

The Bulldogs (5-4 overall and 4-2 in the Western Slope League) were ranked 16th in the Wild Card standings entering the week.

Seven league or conference winners get automatic bids, and the next nine spots are based on Wild Card standings.

So for a Steamboat team (0-9, 0-6) what better way to remember a forgettable season than by keeping your natural rival home for the playoffs?

"If it came down to one," Steamboat coach Lonn Clem­entson said, "you'd love to beat your rival."

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It could be tough going for Steamboat, however. The Bulldogs have won three straight and five of their last seven. If Moffat wins today, the team should have the playoff advantage over two other Western Slope League hopefuls: Delta and Rifle. The Bulldogs beat each team this season.

There is still the possibility of teams ranked lower in the wild card standings winning their leagues and jumping the Bulldogs, but all Moffat can take care of at this point is today's game.

"We're in a must-win to give ourselves a chance at the playoffs," Moffat coach Kip Hafey said. "With a loss, there is no way. With a win, there's a chance. Three weeks ago, with our win against Rifle, we talked to our kids and said, 'This is the start to your playoffs.'"

Offensively, both teams will want to run the ball and chew up the clock. Moffat has been more successful running this year, at times dominating the time of possession.

Steamboat has struggled to find an offensive identity all year, but it showed promise in the second half of last week's loss to Battle Mountain. The Sailors gained 140 of their 216 yards in the second half.

The game likely will come down to which team runs the ball more effectively and limits its turnovers. But the longer Steamboat keeps it close, the more the pressure turns to Moffat.

"You want to beat your rival, and if you can keep them from going to the playoffs, that's a great thing," Clementson said. "We want to do everything we can to send our seniors off with a win."

— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail

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