Steamboat to face Rifle at 7 p.m. today
Sailors looking for 1st win on the road against Bears tonight
October 7, 2010
Steamboat SpringsSteamboat Springs — In a way, the Steamboat Springs and Rifle high school football teams came into the season facing similar situations. — In a way, the Steamboat Springs and Rifle high school football teams came into the season facing similar situations.
Steamboat Springs — In a way, the Steamboat Springs and Rifle high school football teams came into the season facing similar situations.
Steamboat returned just three starters, a number reduced to two in the first game of the year after Connor Landusky was lost for the season with a knee injury. Rifle returned only two starters and four seniors.
Each team welcomed new coaches — Lonn Clementson for the Sailors and Damon Wells for the Bears. Wells previously coached at Rifle from 2005-07.
But each team's success through the first half of the season couldn't have been much different.
Steamboat (0-5 overall, 0-2 in the Western Slope League) travels for a 7 p.m. game today at Rifle (4-1, 2-0) in a contest that could be a close, physical, drawn-out affair.
"Damon Wells is a great coach," Clementson said. "They're running the team the way he ran it a few years ago. They play hard for him and each other. They're just a really good football team."
For most, seeing Rifle tied atop the league standings is a bit of surprise.
Since Wells left the position at the end of 2007, it's been a revolving door of coaches, and more losses than usual.
Rifle finished 4-6 last year, and not many expected much more than that out of the young and inexperienced group.
"One thing is, we began the year with such a young group, we were preaching getting a little better every day," Wells said. "We didn't want to let success or failure be dictated by wins or losses."
The two teams share two common opponents. Rifle beat Eagle Valley, 7-6, and Olathe, 34-6, earlier in the year. Steamboat lost to Eagle Valley, 21-12, and to Olathe, 36-0.
But the Sailors have looked like a much-improved team the past two weeks. Steamboat outgained Eagle Valley and Delta. And after being outscored 113-13 in their first three games, the Sailors have had opportunities each of the past two weeks to come away with a win.
"We don't fell sorry for ourselves," Clementson said. "The improvement that's happened has happened for a reason. We've made mistakes. It's not like we feel like the ball has bounced the wrong way every time. It's football. We expect to keep improving."
Rifle is coming off a game against Eagle Valley in which it scored only seven points but got the win. Steamboat's offense has moved the ball effectively the past two weeks but has struggled immensely inside the red zone.
Although the teams are on opposite sides of the standings, the coaches expect a physical, tight game.
"Nobody is flat, ever," Wells said about playing Western Slope League foes. "Hardly anybody in our league comes out and lays an egg."
— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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