Steamboat Springs Coming off an emotional three-point loss to Palisade on Sept. 29, the No. 10-ranked Steamboat Sailors football team looks to regroup and score a big victory against the Battle Mountain Huskies tonight at home.
Quarterback Rusty Eck, who threw for 188 yards last week in the 36-33 upset, leads his team onto Gardner Field tonight for the Sailors' 2000 homecoming contest set to begin at 7 p.m.
Eck has been a star for the 4-1 Sailors this season, completing more than 50 percent of his passes, and rushing for more than 250 yards. He is joined in the backfield by running backs Stewart Beall, Derek Haverley and Hunter Maddox.
Haverley leads the trio with 314 yards on the ground, followed by Beall, who has 308 yards. Maddox averages more than 12 yards per carry and has about 150 yards in rushes.
The Huskies, 2-3 and 0-2, have been significantly better than in their past two seasons. For the past two years, Battle Mountain failed to win a game.
Last week against Delta, the team nearly pulled off another victory, losing 42-34 in a tight contest with the Panthers.
Battle Mountain shows experience this year with nine starters returning for both its offense and defense. The Huskies run an I-formation and are led by their tackles who weigh in at more than 500 pounds of muscle combined.
The meaty tackles will be challenged by the Sailors' front line that consists of ends JoJo Bucci and Wes Adams, and tackles Tristan Covillo and Dillon Gottshall. Covillo, who tore his meniscus in his left knee against Highland on Sept. 15, will suit up for the game despite his injury. Covillo has opted to finish the year with a brace on his knee and will undergo surgery at the end of the season.
Doctors have cleared Covillo to play despite the tear.
Sailors coach Mark Drake talked about the determination shown by his player.
"The doctor said 'no' it can't get any worse than it is," Drake said. "We put him in a brace, and now it's just a matter of if he can tolerate the pain, then he can play.
"I mean, hell, it's his senior year and he wants to be a part of it and he wants to play really bad. So, you know, I think it's remarkable on his part, as long as we aren't going to be doing any further damage."
Covillo isn't the only player wincing through an injury. Offensive guard Sam Ecker has a broken hand but is slated to start. Offensive lineman Scott Middleton has a knee injury and is scheduled for surgery next week. He may see action for a few plays, however, so he can participate in his team's homecoming game.
The Sailors, who have run for more than 1,500 yards this season, will look to shave the Huskies with their passing game, too. Eck has thrown for 490 yards this year on 34-65 passing.
Steamboat hopes to come out strong as usual and not suffer an emotional letdown after the war with Palisade. The Sailors defense will have to stop Huskies quarterback Kyle Ferguson, who is in charge of the shots for the offense.
Huskies coach Scott Wiedeman said his team will have to be better at not giving up the big plays.
"We're moving the ball offensively pretty well," Wiedeman said. "But, we have some mental mistakes that sometimes costs us some points on the board. Part of our weakness is giving up the big play on defense."
Wiedeman says his team has improved tremendously from last season but is aware of the Sailors' powerful offensive attack.
"Steamboat's a machine," Wiedeman said. "They're very, very talented and very, very strong. They're well coached, well disciplined. It's going to take a superb effort on our part for us to even have a hope."
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