The Steamboat Springs Sailors begin their 2000 campaign against Middle Park at home. The game starts at 7 p.m. Friday at Gardner Field.
Breckenridge Derek Haverly's 57-yard run was too much early on for the West Grand High School Mustangs on Saturday, as the Steamboat Sailors amassed nearly 200 yards rushing, and beat the Mustangs two touchdowns to none in Summit County.
Haverly, who injured a groin muscle during the scrimmage, broke free down the left sideline on his first carry of the day, setting up quarterback Rusty Eck's three-yard touchdown run two plays later.
Steamboat traveled to Summit High School on Saturday to play the Mustangs and the Summit Tigers as a final test before their opening game on Sept. 1 against Middle Park High School.
Steamboat is ranked 10th in the state 3A conference by the Denver Post, while future foes Palisade High School and Rifle High School are numbers three and five respectively.
The Sailors played sloppy at times throughout the rainy afternoon, but finished the day with about 340 yards on the ground, including Haverly's 57-yarder against the Mustangs.
Running back Stewart Beall was responsible for most of his team's rush yards against Summit and West Grand, as he bowled over defenders en route to scoring one of his team's four touchdowns. Beall looked unstoppable at times, creating holes for himself and running through opposing defenders.
Quarterback Eck also had a solid performance, demonstrating his size and power after being tackled by a Tiger defender, who was then carried from the field in a stretcher.
Against West Grand, Steamboat managed about 225 yards on offense, including a 30-yard strike to tight end Tim Hays that set up another touchdown. The Sailors were just one of six passing, but made up for their incompletions with rushing yardage.
Defensively, the Sailors held the Mustangs to about 75 yards of offense, and had key performances from their linebacking crew. Senior linebacker Jo Jo Bucci sacked West Grand quarterback Tom Leitner for a 7-yard loss early on, throwing him down in a windmill-type fashion that drew praise from his teammates on the sideline. Bucci was named as a player to watch by the Denver Post prep football preview 2000 for his play as the Sailors snapper on offense.
The Mustangs had runs of 10, 5 and 10 yards early on, but finished with fewer than 60 yards total on the ground.
Haverly, who sat out the second scrimmage with the groin pull, offered comments on the sideline during the team's scrimmage with Summit.
"Our main goal was to be aggressive and keep the intensity," Haverly said. "Overall, it was an average day."
Against Summit, the Tigers and Sailors scored two touchdowns apiece, the most thrilling a 57-yard interception return by Sailor linebacker Jamie McKelvie.
"That was my first interception in a while," McKelvie said. "I had some last year that I didn't quite snag."
The Tigers scored on touchdown passes of 30 and 3 yards, while their running game never mustered much damage.
Tanner Barr, backup quarterback for the Sailors, ended the day for his offense with a 17-yard run around the right sideline and a 15-yard play action pass, before a final pass fell incomplete.
Head coach Mark Drake was pleased with the outcome of the scrimmages, though he said he expected a better performance in Friday's game at Middle Park.
"We need a better surge from the offensive line," Drake said. "On the defensive side, we saw a lot of good, aggressive tackling."
Defensive coordinator Bruce Wenzlau said he was especially pleased with the play of linebackers Blake Julian and Bucci, along with Dillon Gottshall and Tristan Covillo, senior defensive linemen. Junior linebacker Gaspar Perricone also had stops for losses.
"I thought the defense played very well," Wenzlau said. "They had some good hard hits. The kids were aggressive."
Julian assessed his team's performance against Summit and West Grand.
"I think we did mediocre at best," Julian said. "There's a lot of room for improvement."