Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Sailors will get their first taste of league action Friday when they meet the winless Glenwood Springs Demons.
The 0-2 Demons, who will be playing as the host team, return 14 of the starters who were part of last year's 47-0 lost to the Sailors.
Friday's game will be the third time the Sailors have traveled this year. The local team enters with a 3-0 record, which includes a recent 24-7 win over Highland.
Craig Denney, Glenwood head coach, said he has a strong group of seniors returning, including five who are three-year starters.
"It's a good group of seniors," Denney said. "They are really stepping up."
But his seniors have not been able to pull out a win this season, having lost to Pueblo East 21-7, and Buena Vista 20-7. The Demons were scheduled to play Summit last weekend, but that game was cancelled because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The Demons prefer to keep the ball on the ground, having rushed for 153 yards and only passed for 40 in their last game against Buena Vista.
Leading the Demons will be defensive end Jeremy Wilson, who paces the Demons' 4-3 defense.
On offense, the Sailors' biggest threat will be running back Brandon Chicione, who led the team in rushing against Buena Vista with 90 yards.
Drake also said he is wary of Demon quarterback, junior Mike Bolitho, who gained some experience in his sophomore year. Bolitho's father also played for the Demons and led both the basketball and football teams to state championships.
Drake remembers him as an outstanding athlete.
Denney said he has not made any changes to his offensive game plan and said the Sailors have a tough line to break through.
"(Steamboat is) a solid team. We'll just come out and do the best we can do make it a ball game up to the last quarter," Denney said.
Denney's biggest concern is trying to slow down the Sailors offense.
Drake said while Glenwood is winless thus far, the Demons should be the best team the Sailors have faced this year. Glenwood has both size and quickness, Drake said.
The Sailors will be shorthanded Friday fullback Patrick Rogers will be out for the entire season with a broken ankle.
Rogers, a junior, injured his ankle late last week in practice and was replaced by sophomore Tom Higbee in the game against Highland.
Higbee was the Sailors' second leading rusher with 24 yards, despite the fact that he was brought up from the J.V. team late in the week and did not have much time to practice with the varsity prior to the game.
"We'll have everything ironed out this week to get the timing and everything down," Drake said.
"We have all the confidence in the world of him."
Despite the 24-7 win over Highland, Steamboat players and coaches said the team has much work to do.
"We want to work on our intensity," running back Joe Liefer said. "We don't want to look flat."
After a game that saw some costly penalties and one turnover, Drake said the players were disappointed in their performance.
"They were glad to win," Drake said. "But, they didn't really play the way they were capable of playing."