Steamboat welcomes Berthoud to Gardner Field for playoffs |

Steamboat welcomes Berthoud to Gardner Field for playoffs

Luke Graham

— Despite having an undefeated year, a league championship and a team that many think can make a run at the Class 3A football crown, most of Steamboat's team could enter new territory today.

Fourth-seeded Steamboat welcomes 13-seeded Berthoud for a first-round playoff game at 7 p.m. at Gardner Field.

And although a large contingent of Steamboat's players have been to the playoffs, not many have experienced success.

The past two seasons, the Sailors were bounced from the first round of the playoffs. Two seasons ago, it was Fossil Ridge, with Pueblo County doing the damage last season.

"We've never been past that first round," Steamboat's Joe Dover said. "It's a fact that we all know there is no tomorrow now. If we play (today) and lose, we don't get any more football. You don't get to go out and play football again."

Save for quarterback Austin Hinder, linebacker Cody Harris and lineman Andy Ar­­anyosi, no one on Steamboat's roster has seen the second round.

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Hinder, Harris and Aranyosi were freshmen when they were called up to play in the playoffs on a team that lost to Pueblo County in the second round.

Berthoud, the 2007 3A state champion, comes in having finished third in the Tri-Valley Conference. The Spartans started the season 1-2 — including a 20-14 loss to Moffat County — before winning six of their past seven games.

That lone loss down the stretch came at the hands of Tri-Valley champion and No. 3 overall seed Mountain View. Berthoud missed an extra point and a late field goal before falling, 7-6.

The Spartans run out of the spread formation on offense. First-year quarterback Zach Ruebesam (825 yards passing, 375 yards rushing) leads a run-oriented attack. Berthoud has four players, including Ruebesam, who have rushed for more than 300 yards, including Kent Flynn's 1,076 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.

But where Berthoud earns its reputation is on the other side of the ball. The Spartans have allowed just 15 points per game this season, including just more than 10 in their last five.

"A lot of our kids have been here before," said Berthoud coach Dan McGinn, whose team won its 2007 state championship as a No. 10 seed. "A couple kids were on that team. Every year is a new year, but right now there is a feeling that we've been here."

McGinn said his team has been focusing on keeping Steamboat's athletes under wraps and focusing on doing what his team has done well. Although the team has leaned on its defense this year, McGinn said the offense is rapidly improving under Ruebesam, a sophomore.

The X factor in the game might be the weather. Today's forecast calls for a high of 35 degrees with a low of 20 degrees. There is also a 60 percent chance of snow.

Still, neither McGinn nor Steamboat coach Aaron Finch said that should be a problem.

"Our kids grow up running around in the snow," Finch said. "The more, the merrier. The higher the snow on the sidelines, the happier we are."

As with any playoff game, the key should be what team takes care of the ball better. Berthoud has turned the ball over only 18 times this season, and Steamboat has turned it over just nine times.

"If you can steal the ball and keep it in your offense's hands," Finch said, "you're at a huge advantage."

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

If you go

What: Four-seeded Steamboat football vs. 13-seeded Berthoud

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Gardner Field

No tailgate

Because of expected bad weather, the Steamboat Springs High School Booster Club will not have a tailgate before the game.

Season statistics

2009 Steamboat Springs football statistics


139 First Downs 132

266-2,061 Rushes-Yards 352-1,406

125-210-3 Comp-Att-Int 89-189-18

1,663 Yards Passing 1,218

3,724 Total Yards 2,624

16-30 Punts-Avg. 34-33

21-6 Fumbles-lost 16-9

70-584 Penalties-Yards 83-696


Opponent 21-27-34-75—157

Steamboat 118-161-65-77—421

■ Rushing

Connor Landusky 31-103, 1 TD; Austin Hinder 106-656, 10 TD; Dylan Pivarnik 12-54, 1 TD; Jake Miller 1-(-1); Joe Dover 91-1,070, 18 TD; Michael Savory 8-65, 1 TD; Evan Hornstein 6-75, 1 TD; Tyler Samlowski 8-32, 1 TD; Jack Verploeg 3-7.

■ Passing

Hinder 118-195-2, 1,573 yards, 21 TD; Miller 1-2-1, 8 yards; Savory 3-10-0, 8 yards; Dover 3-3-0, 74 yards, 1 TD.

■ Receiving

Verploeg 19-155, 2 TD; Jack Spady 42-782, 10 TD; Cody Harris 10-67, 1 TD; Pivarnik 15-214, 4 TD; Bryce Mayo 6-52, 1 TD; Landusky 2-20; Dover 29-359, 4 TD; Sam Robards 1-8; Jackson Coe 1-6.

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